“The Hague District Court has ruled today that the State [of the Netherlands] 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 State must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment. The State is responsible for effectively controlling the Dutch emission levels. […] the State should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts. Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.
With this order, the court has not entered the domain of politics. The court must provide legal protection, also in cases against the government, while respecting the government’s scope for policymaking. For these reasons, the court should exercise restraint and has limited therefore the reduction order to 25%, the lower limit of the 25%-40% norm.”
The decision was made on the basis that the Dutch government has a duty to take “appropriate” steps to protect lives within its jurisdiction, including from foreseeable harm. This is (to me) a very unexpected ruling, which will hopefully have impacts on other countries either acting individually or collectively in the upcoming climate change conference in December.
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