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Court jesters

17 Apr 2024 | News Roundup

Climate alarmists are very excited that the European Court of Human Rights, whatever that thing is, said Switzerland violated the rights of some old women to live in a climate that never changes, and now must protect them from too much heat by enacting policies that won’t have any effect even if they could figure out what precisely they’re being told to do. It seems a very odd way to govern oneself. Those engaged in an effort to hijack the democratic process through climate lawfare, especially internationally, should heed the warning in The Telegraph that if judges start making policy aggressively, nations might preserve their sovereignty by withdrawing from such international institutions. Or they could just ignore them and dare the court to, er, what exactly?

The ruling is of course “historic”. Euronews.green tells us so: “‘Historic’ European Court of Human Rights ruling backs Swiss women in climate change case”. And historic historicality comes with the territory; that piece even quotes one Sébastien Duyck, “senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)” that “While we do not have all the details yet – this decision is historic!” It must be. Exclamation mark!!! (To Reuters “Sustainable Switch” and “Daily Briefing” it was merely a “landmark” but give them time.)

The Associated Press concedes that it’s an odd way to govern oneself, or not, while praising it in a manner suitable for advocates not reporters, and also reports what’s going to happen as if they were also fortune-tellers:

“Europe’s highest human rights court ruled Tuesday that countries must better protect their people from the consequences of climate change, siding with a group of older Swiss women against their government in a landmark ruling that could have implications across the continent. The European Court of Human Rights rejected two other, similar cases on procedural grounds — a high-profile one brought by Portuguese young people and another by a French mayor that sought to force governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the Swiss case, nonetheless, sets a legal precedent in the Council of Europe’s 46 member states against which future lawsuits will be judged.”

Unless it doesn’t, as we often respond. But see it’s unprecedented, in that:

“Although activists have had success with lawsuits in domestic proceedings, this was the first time an international court ruled on climate change — and the first decision confirming that countries have an obligation to protect people from its effects, according to Heri.”

Heri being “Corina Heri, an expert in climate change litigation at the University of Zurich”. Strange field of study, one might say. Whereas she says “This is a turning point”. Zzzzzz.

If you’re wondering what the ruling said, well, it’s one of those modern news stories that refers extensively to something that is posted online but never provides, you know, the URL link thingy the kids are so into. (To be fair, it was well-hidden on the site and is also 260 brain-numbing pages long. If you can find anywhere in it an actual remedy ordered by the court, let us know.)

Politico somehow reached the conclusion that ECHR “rulings are binding on the Council’s 46 members, which includes all 27 EU countries” before noting that “Tuesday’s ruling doesn’t include any sanctions on the Swiss government, but it does create a precedent others can use to seek penalties in national courts.” Of the EHCR going tut tut and them going oh yeah? Some precedent that would be. Besides, what’s Switzerland meant to do? Invade China, burn down its coal plants, and capture and bury the resulting emissions?

Never mind. It’s also one of those “World ends, women and minorities hardest hit” deals, since, AP tells us:

“A group called Senior Women for Climate Protection, whose average age is 74, had argued that they were particularly affected because older women are most vulnerable to the extreme heat that is becoming more frequent.”

And, presumably, especially if they are also Persons of Colour. Although maybe Switzerland has as few of those as it also obviously does extreme heat waves.

Naturally the vast right-wing conspiracy leaped into action. “Landmark Swiss climate ruling faces backlash” warned Reuters “Sustainable Switch” in an email. Left-wing policies never face, ah, criticism, or opposition, or rational questioning following orderly procedures. No it’s always a “backlash”: emotional, atavistic and threatening. Thus Sharon Kimathi complained in the newsletter about “influential newspapers in Switzerland” that:

“criticized the climate change ruling against the Swiss government, saying it risked undermining democracy and the political clout of environmental groups if there is a backlash against voting for green parties wishing to use the ruling for their political agenda.”

It might, of course. But it doesn’t really matter.

What is crucial to grasp here is that just because some court says people have a right to something doesn’t mean they will actually get it. There are proposals in Canada, for instance, to deal with a terrible shortage of doctors in our “Best Health Care System in The World”TM by giving us the “right” to a doctor. (Including one in the Globe & Mail from one Jane Philpott, herself a doctor and formerly of all things Minister of Health for Canada, where health is a provincial responsibility, who um didn’t give us that right when she was in office.) But of what use is this right if there is no doctor? Why not give us the right to be tall, young and attractive while you’re at it? (Like being given a remedy for “extreme heat that is becoming more frequent” when it’s not, as an alert reader who crunched the numbers for the Basel Binnengen station since 1900 assured us.)

We are not just being snide, although we are being snide. How can the court guarantee people nicer weather, assuming you want it to be colder in Switzerland? And what if you don’t? As it happens, the average maximum in Geneva in July is 26.8C and the mean is 20.7, and in January it’s 5.3C and 2.1 so the place isn’t exactly an oven, now is it? (The comparable figures for Ottawa, Canada are 26.8/21.2 and -5.1/-9.8.) And at least in North America, when people get older they typically move to warmer places if they can afford it.

Possibly a court can guarantee a certain type of policy that certain types of people think will cause better weather. But it’s not the same thing. And is itself highly dubious on three grounds, starting with what if the activists are wrong about what will change the temperature.

Then there’s the Buster Scruggs question “And iffn I don’t?” because when we expressed confusion at the outset about what this “Court” even is, we were not suggesting that we don’t have Google on our computers. On the contrary, we were asking what people think a “court” is and where it gets its authority and what, if anything, they know about this one.

As the piece notes, this court-like object “is unrelated to the European Union”. More crucially, court rulings are just bits of paper unless there is a police force that can compel compliance. Who is going to arrest the government of Switzerland? Indeed, the story eventually mumbled that:

“Judge Siofra O’Leary, the court’s president, stressed that it would be up to governments to decide how to approach climate change obligations — and experts noted that was a limit of the ruling.”

True. And if I persuaded a court to order that I should tower over my fellows but it had no method of increasing my height it would be a “limit” of the ruling. To the world of fantasy.

As it turns out, the so-called European Court of Human Rights is part of the “Council of Europe”. Which is not the “European Council“ and has nothing to do with the “European Commission” or any of that rhubarb but is instead “an international organisation with the goal of upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe”. In short, plenty of jobs for the chattering classes virtue-signaling (this one court alone has 17 members who appear to be paid over a quarter of a million Euros per year, plus posh allowances), and no authority whatsoever. Especially over the countries currently contributing to the increase in human GHG emissions even as bien-pensant European bureaucrats and politicians cripple their own economies in pursuit of “Net Zero”. (Not that the EU has much either, plus Switzerland isn’t in it.)

It gets worse, of course, because the final obstacle to the court fixing the thermostat outside in Geneva is that it doesn’t matter a Matterhorn yodel what the government of Switzerland does about climate policy anyway when, according to its groveling response to COP26, “Switzerland’s share in global greenhouse gas emissions is around 0.1 percent.” As with the government of Ireland apparently believing that Irish emissions affect the weather in the Emerald Isle, and Chinese emissions the weather in the Middle Kingdom, these people are clods. Switzerland could go back to burning nothing and those poor old women would still be consumed by flames given China’s coal plant production. Or not, since the actual weather in Switzerland remains that of an alpine nation.

Also, Switzerland has evidently cut its emissions from over 45 million metric tons in 1973 to barely 33 today. If that lands you in the jug, who is safe?

Still, a turning point. World saved. Film at 11.

P.S. Judith Curry also took aim at this nonsense, offering “some text prepared to help inoculate us from this fresh new climate hell of litigation” including that the various texts on which the ECHR makes its rulings, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nowhere mention “climate” or “environment”. But then you already knew it was neither law nor jurisprudence but activism in a wig, didn’t you?

P.P.S. Speaking of a backlash, the Daily Mail put the headline “Europe’s highest court rules countries must ‘protect citizens from climate change’ after legal action by 2,000 Swiss women – paving the way for British eco mobs to force the government to implement green policies” on what was otherwise a fairly credulous account of the ruling.

9 comments on “Court jesters”

  1. “A group called Senior Women for Climate Protection, whose average age is 74, had argued that they were particularly affected because older women are most vulnerable to the extreme heat that is becoming more frequent.”
    This does rather strike me as ladies who lunch finding themsleves something else to do after lunch besides playing bridge, even if their claim of extreme heat is nonsensical, in Switzerland at any rate.

  2. I think it would be better, or at least possible, to let every person tell their own "true " temperature. This would be truly inclusive and solve climate change. Everyone could set their own ideal temperature.

  3. If it’s so bad for old women in the heat, why do they keep flocking to Arizona and Florida? They don’t seem to be dropping like flies in the heat (Phoenix Jul mean high 106.degF/mean low 84degF (41.4/29.2 degC).

  4. A nothing court makes a nothing ruling far away from Switzerland.Which isn't even part of the EU?Meanwhile China,India,et al built another coal
    plant or two in the last week.The theatre of the absurd!

  5. Empty words from empty headed bureaucrats in the "world courts", which get ignored more often that the fat girls at the high school hop!

  6. “It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights - the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery - hay and a barn for human cattle.” - P.J. O’Rourke

  7. If you haven't red the piece by Dr. Judith Curry linked in the 1st PS above, you definitely should. Excellent reading.

  8. A court without enforcement authority is nothing more than a philosophical discussion/debate club, no matter how fancy the name of the court.
    In this case, the ruling is apparently nonsense as they reportedly fail to specify the remedy.

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