Dutch government loses world's first climate liability lawsuit

The Dutch government has lost a landmark legal case over its greenhouse gas emissions plans.

The environmental group Urgenda brought a class action suit over climate change on behalf of some 900 citizens, including children. The suit claimed that the government’s action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is insufficient, and is therefore “knowingly exposing its own citizens to dangerous situations”.

Urgenda asked that the court in the Hague “declare that global warming of more than 2 °C will lead to a violation of fundamental human rights worldwide”. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, governments must cut emissions to between 25 and 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 to have a 50 per cent chance of avoiding 2 °C. Yet European Union states have signed up for 40 per cent cuts by 2030.

Three judges agreed with the class action suit, ruling that government plans to cut emissions by 14-17 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were illegal. The ruling said: “The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts.”

The court ordered the Dutch government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020.

The rest of this story can be read here.

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