Dutch government fights obligations to act on climate change

On Friday november 16th 2018, the Dutch government announced its intention to appeal the recent judgment of the Hague Court of Appeal in Urgenda’s high-profile climate case.

The Court of Appeal upheld the 2015 order of the District Court requiring the Government to reduce the Netherland’s greenhouse gas emissions. The appellate court determined that, as accepted by the Government in international climate talks, the Netherlands must reduce its emissions by at least 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels in order to stay below 2°C of warming and meet its human rights obligations.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment was published the day after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Special Report on 1.5°C of warming, which underlined the extreme urgency of reducing emissions in order to avert significant harm to people and ecosystems all over the world.

Dutch emissions are currently only 13% lower than they were in 1990. Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda, states: “We would much rather have worked side by side with our Government to reduce emissions, rather than have to fight them in court again. We are not convinced by the Government’s claim that they are only appealing to defend the principle that courts should not interfere with government policy-making.”

“The court was very clear; if we are to keep temperature increase to below 2°C, countries such as the Netherlands will have to reduce their emissions by 25% before 2020. The Government has itself previously accepted that this is the necessary rate of reduction. How they meet that target is entirely up to the Government to decide. But delaying action will inevitably lead to us missing the temperature targets in the Paris Agreement and will have catastrophic consequences for all of us. The Government’s decision to appeal is the exact opposite of the leadership that is needed before the climate talks next month.”

For more information on the Urgenda climate case click here.