The Urgenda climate case against the Dutch Government

Together with 900 citizens the Urgenda Foundation filed the Climate Case against the Dutch Government. On 24 June 2015 Urgenda won a lawsuit against the Dutch State, forcing it to take more measures against climate change.

The Urgenda Climate Case is the first case in which regular citizens have managed to hold their government accountable for taking insufficient action to keep them safe from dangerous climate change. On June 24 2015, the District Court of The Hague ruled that the Dutch government is required to reduce its emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). This means that the Dutch government is now, effective immediately, forced to take more effective action on climate change. It is also the first case in the world in which human rights are used as a legal basis to protect citizens against climate change.

In September 2015, despite calls from top scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the almost 900 co-plaintiffs, the Dutch government decided to appeal the historic verdict. Urgenda is currently preparing its response.  Scroll down for more information on the case, including the English translations of our legal documentation, information on other climate cases emerging around the world, videos, photos and latest developments...

Latest news

  • 29 September 2015 - Despite pressure from parliament, the Dutch government refuses to pull appeal in landmark climate case
    Despite calls from top scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the almost 900 co-plaintiffs, the Dutch government declined to pull the appeal against the historic verdict in the Dutch climate case. 

    “To appeal the outcome of this case only weeks before the start of the climate summit in Paris shows that the Dutch government is still not treating this issue with the urgency it so desperately needs.” Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda and initiator to the climate case. “We have full confidence in the outcome of the appeal.” Read the full press release here.
    • 1 September 2015 - Dutch government to appeal in groundbreaking climate case

      The Hague, 1 September 2015 - The Dutch government today announced its intention to appeal against the verdict of the district court in The Hague in the Dutch Climate Case last June.

      We have full confidence in the outcome of the appeal” Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda reacted. In its letter to parliament the government also announced it will start taking measures to reach the target that was ordered by to court, pending the appeal. In its verdict the District court of The Hague ordered the Dutch government to reduce its emissions by a minimum of 25% by 2020 compared to 1990. The Netherlands are currently on a path towards 17% in 2020.

      Marjan Minnesma :“The government knows 25% is not nearly enough if you consider the enormity of the dangers that climate change poses to us. Much more is needed, so we hope that politicians in the Netherlands will take their responsibility and make a true effort to speed up the transition towards a 100% sustainable economy. We have been waiting for political leadership on this topic for a very long time.

      In its letter announcing the appeal the government mentions a number of legal questions as the reason for appealing the judgement.

      Marjan Minnesma: “The Dutch government has the opportunity to put these legal questions directly to the Supreme Court instead of first going through the Court of Appeal. That would save a lot of time and money. If it is legal clarity that de government wants, going straight to the Supreme Court is the fastest way to get there

      The government officially published its announcement (Dutch) here. Dutch parliament will be hearing experts and debating the case later this month before the government takes a final decision on the appeal. The deadline for appealing is 24 September 2015.

      Statement Dutch government in English and in Dutch.

      • 24 June 2015 - Urgenda wins the case for better Dutch climate policies

        The Hague, 24 June 2015 - Urgenda and nine hundred co-plaintiffs were victorious in the climate case today, forcing the Dutch government to adopt more stringent climate policies. The district court of The Hague has granted the plaintiffs claims, and the government is now required to take more effective climate action to reduce the Netherlands considerable share in global emissions. This is the first time that a judge has legally required a State to take precautions against climate change. This verdict will provide support to all the other climate cases around the world.

        "All the plaintiffs are overjoyed by the result. This makes it crystal clear that climate change is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with much more effectively, and that states can no longer afford inaction. States are meant to protect their citizens, and if politicians will not do this of their own accord, then the courts are there to help," says Urgenda director Marjan Minnesma, who in 2013 initiated this case against the Dutch State with a team of lawyers and nine hundred co-plaintiffs. "It's all up to the State now. Luckily, sustainable solutions are ripe for the picking."

        Read Urgenda's full press release here
        Read the court's press release here
        Read the transcript of the court session at which the Verdict was brought here


    Further reading

  • Climate Case Explained

    Click here to get a better understanding of the climate case. All our legal documents translated into English, as well as a chronological overview of the proceedings. 
  • Revolution Justified

    The idea for a Dutch climate case came from the book Revolution Justified written by Dutch lawyer Roger Cox, who is also one of the lawyers representing Urgenda in the climate case.
  • Global Climate Litigation

    A simular case has started in Belgium and another climate case is being prepared in Norway. Read more about global climate litigation and the Oslo principles here.

 

    • Videos

    • There was enormous support from the public for the court case. Hundreds of people came to The Hague to listen to the hearing and many more watched via livestream. When the judges read aloud the verdict, the audience erupted in joy and more than a few tears were shed. We managed to catch some of this elation in the video below, and have also provided English subtitles for the full reading of the verdict.

In addition, you can see the full version of the judge reading out the verdict below (in Dutch with English subtitles).

The day of the hearing, 14 April 2015, was also an exciting day. The video below gives a short overview of the arguments presented in court and the widespread (international) media coverage. In addition, while everyone else was at the court house, a ten year old reporter went to hear what members of parlement had to say about it.

PHOTOS

credit Urgenda / Chantal Bekker


 

mede-eisersMede-eisersmede-eiserkinderemede-eiserMarjan Minnesmamede-eisers

courtmede-eisersmede-eisersSpeechMarjan MinnesmaMarjan MinnesmaDutch TVmede-eiserJoos Ockelsmede-eisersMaurits Groen Wakawakalawyermede-eisercourtcourtMarjan MinnesmacourtcourtBernice Notemboom - professional adventurer

Borgchild des Bouvrie - Grandparents climate campaign

Joos Ockels

Gregor Slato