Netherlands' Top Court Orders Government to Act on Climate Change

The Union Journal

Dutch High Court orders state to improve emissions reduction target in landmark ruling

In reaction to Friday's judgment in the Netherlands, Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and a former president of Ireland, stated,"Following the U.N. climate talks in Madrid, the urgency of raising our efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions couldn't be clearer".

The ruling meant a final defeat for the government in the case brought by environmental group Urgenda Foundation, on behalf of almost 900 Dutch citizens.

The High Court said its judgment is based on clear scientific evidence, endorsed by both Urgenda and the government, that "there is a real threat of risky climate change in the coming decades".

In order to fulfill the requirements of the ECHR, the government will need to increase the speed with which they are addressing climate change, "the European Union itself has stated that it considers a 30% reduction in 2020 to be necessary". In that case, the court, citing obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, stated that the government was "acting unlawfully" by not taking stronger action to reduce emissions and that "a reduction obligation of at least 25% by end-2020, as ordered by the district court, is in line with the state's duty of care".

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Damian Rau, was 12 years old when the case was first filed.

The ruling, greeted by cheers from supporters, means that the government must now reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 25% by the end of next year, when compared with 1990, the court said.

At the initial court case in 2015, judges ruled that the government is required it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% of 1990 levels by 2020, in line with worldwide treaties.

The government then appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court for the Netherlands.

Scientists say global emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants have to start falling rapidly as soon as possible to meet the Paris goal of keeping global warming by the end of the century well bellow 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F). "Our human rights depend on it".

There is every reason to believe that the newest members of that August body will be much more hostile to government-based actions, which are anathema to a whole generation of lawyers sucked by the Federalist Society, a front group of Koch Brothers preaching all the rules bad. The government had already committed to reducing emissions, but by a smaller amount.

"The closure of coal-fired power stations and reduction of animal factory farming are obvious measures, which the government has been postponing for years", Oulahsen said.

"Our country is to a large extent below sea level, so at a certain point in time if it goes as quickly as it goes right now, you might have a serious problem here", she said.

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