Ground breaking climate change case

In a ground breaking climate change case the Dutch Court has today ordered the State to take more action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands.

The case was brought by Urgenda (a contraction of “urgent agenda”) a citizen’s group drawn from civil society, and by several hundred individuals

The court decided that if the state fails to act to reduce emissions and prevent climate change in accordance with international law then it is failing in its duty of care.

The Court said the state could not hide behind the argument that the solution to climate change does not rely solely on Dutch efforts.

It decided that any reduction in emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take a lead.

The Court decided that the Dutch reduction targets (15%) were too low and below that deemed necessary by climate science and international policy by which Annex I countries must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 % by 2020 to realise the 2degrees centigrade target.

The court ruled that the state had acted negligently towards Urgenda by starting from a reduction target for 2020 of less than 25% compared to the year 1990.

The court limited the reduction order to 25% on the basis that this was the minimum amount consistent with Dutch legal obligations: to order more would be to enter the state’s realm of policy making.