Top Swiss party demands Council of Europe pullout after climate ruling

Top Swiss party demands Council of Europe pullout after climate ruling
Top Swiss party demands Council of Europe pullout after climate ruling

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This handout photograph taken and released by Liberate and Renovate Switzerland in Lausanne on April 9, 2024, shows climate activists posing after spraying with orange paint the building a sales center’s building of German carmaker Porsche. Activists sprayed a Swiss Porsche outlet with orange paint in a campaign to ‘Liberate Switzerland’ from cars, following a historic ruling by Europe’s top rights court faulting the country for climate inaction. — Liberate and Renovate Switwerland / AFP pic 

GENEVA, April 9 — Switzerland’s biggest political party demanded a withdrawal from the Council of Europe after the continent’s top rights court today ruled that the country was not doing enough to tackle climate change.

The hard-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) slammed the verdict, calling the decision by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg “scandalous”.

“Switzerland must withdraw from the Council of Europe,” the SVP said in a statement, adding that the court’s job was to “dispense justice and not make policy”.

The SVP comfortably topped the Swiss general elections in October but holds just two of the seven seats in the power-sharing government, and is often at odds with its coalition partners.

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The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said it had taken note of the verdict and would consider what actions it required.

“This ruling is final. This detailed judgement will be analysed with the authorities concerned and the measures that Switzerland must take for the future will be examined,” it said in a statement sent to AFP.

The ECHR found that the Swiss state had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the “right to respect for private and family life”.

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The historic decision could force governments to adopt more ambitious climate policies.

“With today’s ruling, the Strasbourg judges have turned themselves into puppets of activists and have now finally lost their credibility. Your brazen interference in Swiss politics is unacceptable for a sovereign country,” the SVP said.

Ideological Strasbourg judges were attempting to erode Switzerland’s legal institutions in the name of “cheap climate activism”, it said.

They “did not even consider the fact that Switzerland is exemplary in reducing carbon dioxide emissions”, it said, adding: “Switzerland has had almost CO2-neutral energy production in the past with hydropower and nuclear power.”

The SVP said the ECHR was “increasingly interfering in national affairs that were not an issue when it was founded — or when Switzerland joined in 1963. It is unacceptable that political decisions are made by courts.”

Besides pulling out of the Council of Europe, the party called for a renewed discussion over the priority of national law.

The SVP, which has its roots as a farmers’ party in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, became a national force focused on opposition to closer ties with the European Union, any concession of Swiss independence, and mass immigration.

Meanwhile, activists sprayed a Swiss Porsche outlet with orange paint Tuesday in a campaign to “Liberate Switzerland” from cars, following the court’s ruling.

Four members of a Swiss activist group, act now, splashed bright orange paint across the facade of a Porsche sales centre near the western city of Lausanne early Tuesday, the group said in a statement. — AFP

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