In a ruling that will provide a precedent for similar cases in the future, the highest human rights court in Europe decided on Tuesday that the Swiss government had breached the citizens’ human rights by not doing enough to address climate change.

The finding in favour of the nearly 2,000 Swiss women who initiated the lawsuit by the European Court of Human Rights is anticipated to have a ripple effect on court rulings throughout Europe and beyond, giving communities more confidence to file climate challenges against governments.

However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) dismissed two more climate-related cases due to procedural issues, indicating the complexity of the expanding wave of climate litigation. Two of them were brought by a former mayor of a low-lying coastal town in France and a group of six young Portuguese individuals against thirty-two European states.

The over 64-year-old Swiss women, known as KlimaSeniorinnen, claimed they were in danger of dying during heat waves due to their government’s inaction on climate change. They contended that they were more susceptible to the effects of climate change because of their age and gender.

The Swiss government, according to Court President Siofra O’Leary’s decision, has not established a national carbon budget nor met its own emissions reduction commitments.

“It is clear that future generations are likely to bear an increasingly severe burden of the consequences of present failures and omissions to combat climate change,” said O’Leary.

Leader of KlimaSeniorinnen Rosmarie Wydler-Wälti stated she was having trouble understanding the decision’s whole implications.

“We ask our lawyers, ‘Is that right?’ repeatedly. It’s the best you might have had, they tell us. “The greatest triumph imaginable.”

The decision was noted by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, which appeared on behalf of the Swiss government in court.

“Together with the authorities concerned, we will now analyse the extensive judgement and review what measures Switzerland will take in the future,” it stated in a statement.