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. On October 9th the judge in High Court again ruled in favour of Urgenda and the climate.

Latest developments

The 2015 Urgenda Climate Case against the Dutch Government was the first in the world in which citizens held their government accountable for contributing to 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, 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, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland and the US.

In September 2015, despite calls from leading scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the 886 co-plaintiffs for it to accept the decision, the Dutch government decided to appeal the judgment. 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.

You can find the press release of Urgenda here.
You can find the presse release of the Court of Appeal and the judgement here.

16 November 2018 - Dutch government fights obligations to act on climate change

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

9 October 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.

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 Notice on Appeal from Urgenda, court date is set on May 28th 2018

Amsterdam April 18th 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 - 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


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