On 24 June 2015 the Urgenda Foundation, together with 900 citizens, won the Climate Case against the Dutch Government, forcing it to take more measures against climate change. On 9 October 2018 the judge in High Court again ruled in favour of Urgenda and the climate. The State appealed again. The case will be heard before the Supreme Court on 24 May 2019.
The 2015 Urgenda Climate Case against the Dutch Government was the first in the world in which citizens established that their government has a legal duty to prevent dangerous climate change. On 24 June 2015, the District Court of The Hague ruled the government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). The ruling required the government to immediately take more effective action on climate change.
The case was upheld by the Court of Appeal on 9 October 2018. Following this judgement the State appealed to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country.
The case will be heard before the Supreme Court on 24 May 2019, from 9:00 to 11:00 (address: Korte Voorhout 8, The Hague). We encourage members of the public to attend this historic hearing. If you are interested in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can inform the Court on the number of people planning to attend. We suggest that you arrive at the court early in order to clear security checks.
Press can contact the Supreme Court directly to register their attendance at the following address: email@example.com.
The Climate Case, which was brought on behalf of 886 Dutch citizens, made climate change a major political and social issue in the Netherlands and transformed domestic climate change policy. It inspired climate change cases in Belgium, Colombia, Ireland, Germany, France, New Zealand, Norway, the UK, Switzerland and the US.
Following the ground breaking judgement of the district court on 24 June 2015, the Dutch Government decided to appeal the case in September 2015, despite calls from leading scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the 886 co-plaintiffs for it to accept the decision. It made this decision even though it is taking steps to meet the target set by the Court.
The appeal was heard at the Hague Court of Appeal on 28 May 2018. On 9 October 2018, the Hague Court of Appeal decided to uphold the 2015 court decision. In other words Urgenda won again (press release of Urgenda here and press release of the Court of Appeal and the judgement here).
On 8 January 2019 the State filled its ground of appeal to the Supreme Court. On 12 April 2019 Urgenda filled its written defence to the Supreme Court (a translation of the defence will be made available here as soon as possible).
The case will be heard at the Supreme Court on 24 May 2019, from 9:00 to 11:00 (address: Korte Voorhout 8, 2511 EK, The Hague).
Despite its appeal to the Supreme Court the State announced it would uphold its commitment to implement the order to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2020. Following a report of the Environmental Assessment Agency which showed the State is not on track to achieve the 25% reduction target by 2020, the State announced it close at least on coal fired power plant and that it would present an additional package of reduction measures in order to implement the judgement in late April. This decision has been postponed until mid-June.
24 May 2019 – Hearing before the Supreme Court: On 24 May 2019 the Urgenda Climate Case will be heard before the Supreme Court. The hearing will commence at 9:00 am in the Korte Zaal (Korte hall), address: Korte Voorhout 8, 2511 EK, The Hague.
12 April 2019 – Urgenda submits its written defence in the appeal before the Supreme Court: Urgenda has submitted its written defence in the appeal before the Supreme Court on 12 April 2019. It its submission Urgenda outlines the dangers of climate change and the duty of the State to reduce its emissions by 25% at a minimum before 2020. The Dutch version of the written defence is available here. A translation in English will be made available as soon as possible.
9 January 2019 – Dutch government submits its grounds of appeal: The Dutch Government has filed its ground of appeal before the Supreme Court. The grounds can be downloaded here (in Dutch). Despite its initial announcement to file the appeal because of its principled disagreement with the Court of Appeal with regards to the separation of powers, the State challenges wide range of determinations that were made by the Court of Appeal.
16 November 2018 – Dutch government fights obligations to act on climate change: On Friday, 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. Read further here.
9 October 2018 – Urgenda wins appeal in historic climate case: the Hague Court of Appeal upheld the groundbreaking 2015 decision of the District Court, in which it ordered the Dutch Government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. The Court ruled that failure to do so would amount to a violation of the rights of Dutch citizens. You can read the verdict and the press release here.
9 October 2018 – Judgement in the Appeal of the State. The Hague Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its judgement in the appeal launched by the State at an open hearing on 9 October 2018 at 10:00 am. The hearing will be live-streamed by the Court. For more information click here.
18 April 2017 – The Urgenda Foundation published the Notice on Appeal: The Dutch Government and Urgenda will appear to the court on May 28th 2018. Here you can download the document: Urgenda Notice On Appeal
29 September 2015 – 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 – The Dutch government announces its intention to appeal against the verdict of the district court in The Hague in the Dutch Climate Case:
“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.
24 June 2015 – Urgenda wins the case for better Dutch climate policies: 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.”
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 2018 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.
credit Urgenda / Chantal Bekker