10 October 2018

Judge rules Dutch government 'acting unlawfully' on climate change

Ruling comes a day after climate scientists issued a call 'act now idiots,' and other cases are to follow.

The lawsuit brought by environmentalists led to the appeals court in the Netherlands ruling that the Dutch government must do more to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Playing catch-up

The Hague Appeals Court on Tuesday ordered the Dutch government to cut greenhouse missions faster than planned, to at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by the end of 2020.  Emissions of greenhouse gases in the Netherlands last year were only 13 percent below benchmark 1990 levels. Presiding Judge Marie-Anne Tan-de Sonnaville rejected the government's appeal of a 2015 district court ruling. The court stated, ‘the government has done too little to prevent the dangers of climate change and is doing too little to catch up,’ adding ‘there is a clear chance that the reduction will fall far short of the 25 percent goal, which is unacceptable’ and ‘the state is acting unlawfully and in violation of the duty of care.’ The 2015 ruling had been the culmination of a lawsuit by the environmental group Urgenda, filed on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens.

‘Mincemeat’

Urgenda said the the judge had made ‘mincemeat’ of the government's appeal, and all governments across the world are now ‘on notice’ as similar cases are now underway in several countries across the world. A new Dutch government promised to cut emissions by 49 percent by 2030, but envisaged a reduction of only 23 percent by 2025. The ruling came a day after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that stressed the importance of minimizing global temperature increase, calling people ‘idiots.’