Quantcast

Historic Climate Ruling Upheld by Dutch Appeals Court

Climate
A flood barrier in the Netherlands, a low-lying country vulnerable to climate change. Mischa Keijser / Cultura / Getty Images

A Dutch appeals court upheld a historic climate liability ruling Tuesday, affirming that the Dutch government has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, The Associated Press reported.

The original ruling, decided in June 2015, was the first time a court found that governments had a legal obligation to their citizens to protect them from climate change, The Guardian reported at the time.


The appeal ruling comes as a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized the need for urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"Considering the great dangers that are likely to occur, more ambitious measures have to be taken in the short term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the life and family life of citizens in the Netherlands," the court said in a statement reported by The Associated Press.

The original case was brought by the environmental group Urgenda, representing 900 Dutch citizens. The Netherlands' liberal government, lead by Mark Rutte, plans to reduce emissions 17 percent by 2020, The Guardian reported, but now two courts have agreed with Urgenda that that is not enough.

"The special report of the IPCC emphasizes that we need to reduce emissions with much greater urgency. The Dutch government knows that as a low-lying country, we are on the frontline of climate change. Our own government agencies recently concluded that in the worst case scenario sea levels might rise by 2.5 to three meters (approximately eight to 10 feet) by the end of the century. The court of appeal's decision puts all governments on notice. They must act now, or they will be held to account," Urgenda Director Marjan Minnesma told The Guardian.

The ruling could have consequences for similar cases around the world, in countries as widely distributed as New Zealand, Norway, Uganda and the UK.

"Governments can no longer make promises they don't fulfill. Countries have an obligation to protect their citizens against climate change. That makes this trial relevant for all other countries," Dutch Green leader Jesse Klaver told The Guardian.

In the U.S., the Trump administration is attempting to stall the climate liability case Juliana v. United States, being brought by Our Children's Trust on behalf of 21 young people who assert their constitutional rights have been violated by the federal government, which is aware of the dangers of climate change but continues to promote the use of fossil fuels.

The case is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 29, but the federal government filed a motion requesting a stay Friday until the Supreme Court can review the case, The Register-Guard reported.

Both the 9th Circuit and Supreme Court ruled in July the case could proceed to trial, so lawyers for the plaintiffs think it is unlikely the government's delays will succeed, despite this weekend's confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Attorney Philip Gregory told the Register-Guard Monday that a different decision was "doubtful" "given the fact that Justice (Anthony) Kennedy and the rest of the court, less than three months ago, determined the case should proceed forward to trial."

Back in the Netherlands, the Dutch government issued a statement Tuesday saying it would review the ruling for grounds for a further appeal, but also said that it would comply with the court's order and that a 25 percent emissions reduction by 2020 was "within reach," The Associated Press reported.

Minnesma recommended the government shut down coal-fired plants and reduce maximum speeds on some highways.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less