(3BL Media/Justmeans) - There was big news coming out of Europe last week, other than the ongoing Greek banking crisis. A district court in The Hague made a ruling in a climate change lawsuit that could have far-reaching consequences. A group called the Urgenda Foundation, along with some 900 co-plaintiffs, filed suit against the Dutch government for not taking sufficient action against climate change. The case was filed in November 2013, after a letter written a year earlier, asking for more action received a response that acknowledged that the Dutch government's action were insufficient. The lawsuit was based on “the principle that the government can be held legally accountable for not taking sufficient action to prevent foreseeable harm.”
The action was largely inspired by the book, Revolution Justified, written by the Dutch lawyer Roger Cox, who made the case for such a suit in a piece published in The Guardian. He later gave a TEDx talk on the subject entitled “How EU Action Couild Save Earth from Climate Disaster.”
The suit made three specific requests of the court:
To declare that global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a violation of fundamental human rights worldwide.
To declare that the Dutch State is acting unlawfully by not contributing its proportional share to preventing a global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius.
To order the Dutch State to drastically reduce Dutch CO2 emissions even before 2020 to the level that has been determined by scientists to be in line with less than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming; that is, to reduce Dutch emissions by 40% by 2020 below 1990 levels.
The court upheld the position of the plaintiffs, ruling that, “the State must take more action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands. The State also has to ensure that the Dutch emissions in the year 2020 will be at least 25% lower than those in 1990. The parties agree that the severity and scope of the climate problem make it necessary to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Based on the State’s current policy, the Netherlands will achieve a reduction of 17% at most in 2020,