Netherlands’ Supreme Court forces government to act on climate change

The Union Journal

Dutch High Court orders state to improve emissions reduction target in landmark ruling

The highest court in the Netherlands has upheld a ruling requiring the government to slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% of 1990 levels by the end of next year.

The Urgenda case was started in 2012 by a group of some 900 individuals who said they would take the government to court unless it started acting seriously to prevent climate change.

The case was initiated in 2013 by environmental activist group Urgenda - a name that is a fusion of "urgent" and "agenda" - together with almost 900 other claimants.

The Dutch High Court on Friday ordered the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% below 1990 levels by the end of next year in a ruling that could have repercussions around the world. In 2015, the court in The Hague ordered a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020.

Because of climate change, "the lives, well-being and living circumstances of many people around the world, including in the Netherlands, are being threatened", Justice Kees Streefkerk, the chief justice, said in the decision. The District Court of The Hague found the probability of damage to current and future generations to be so large and concrete that "the state must make an adequate contribution, greater than its current contribution, to prevent risky climate change". In October 2018, The Hague Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Urgenda. "Every country is responsible for its share", he said.

"Urgenda is a portmanteau phrase, a mix of" urgent" and" agenda".

The court said that the Dutch courts do have the power to determine if the government is meeting its obligations, as set down in the European treaty of human rights, which commits the state to protecting its citizens.

The case has impressed related lawsuits towards governments internationally, akin to in Belgium, France, Eire, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Switzerland and Norway, additionally by plaintiffs throughout the planet from the European Union, a part of a much bigger tendency of taxpayers in search of motion from the courts local weather issues. The plaintiffs are now awaiting a decision in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit about if the trial is able to move forward. It was the first time a court had ruled that a national government was legally bound to follow through on promises made in worldwide climate agreements. A federal suit on behalf of young people awaits trial in OR after a labyrinthine path of pretrial filings and appeals that have reached the Supreme Court twice already.

Michael Gerrard, supervisor of the Sabin Heart for Regulation at Columbia College Regulation Faculty, said in an e-mail:"You've been 1,442 local weather lawsuits internationally".

Among the plaintiffs in the situation, Damian Rau, was 12 years old once the case was initially registered.

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