Did European climate inaction violate human rights?

STORY: Thousands of retired Swiss women are suing their government, alleging insufficient action on climate change violates their human rights.

(Bruna Molinari) "(Coughing) Excuse me, I have asthma because of climate. That's why I can't speak."

The case is being heard at the European Court of Human Rights as part of a six-year legal battle.

The outcome could result in orders for governments to cut CO2 emissions much faster than currently planned.

Here's what you need to know.

The Swiss seniors claim that their country's inaction in the face of global warming puts them at risk of dying during heatwaves.

The case alleges four violations of the European Convention of Human Rights, including the right to life.

It uses emerging evidence that older women are less able to regulate their body temperatures than others.

Gisele Sallin is a member of the group Senior Women for Climate Protection.

"The Swiss government has done too little on climate change. We have health consequences and for the quality of life for elderly people, and women are particularly vulnerable."

The case has twice been rejected by domestic courts.

The Swiss government argues that the case is inadmissible, saying it is without foundation and questioning whether the applicants count as victims.

In a sign of its importance, eight other European governments have joined the case.

They include Romania, Latvia, Austria, Slovakia, Norway, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

The elderly Swiss women's case is the first of three climate change lawsuits being heard at the Strasbourg court.

They could set an important precedent that could force European governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions much faster than planned.

The case has been fast-tracked and a verdict is due in 2023.

The fact it's been referred directly to the court's top bench - the 'Grand Chamber' - is seen as significant.

Only cases that raise serious questions about the Convention's interpretation are sent there.

81-year-old Bruna Molinari suffers from asthma that she says is aggravated by excessive heat.

She hopes the outcome will at least benefit generations to come.

"As a grandmother and mother, I think they have the right to have a climate that is better than the one we have."

"The climate situation is a catastrophe. One must move, it is already very late. Get a move on, please!"