Netherlands: Court of Appeal rules Dutch Govt. must do more to protect climate


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10 October 2018

Victory for the Climate

Author: Bern Johnson, ELAW

[On October 9, 2018, the Hague Court of Appeal] ruled that the Dutch government must do more to protect the climate. Confirming the lower court's ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the Dutch government breached its duty of care by "failing to pursue a more ambitious reduction" of greenhouse gas emissions...

The Court, finding in favour of the Dutch NGO Urgenda, recognizing the "grave danger" of climate change and called for the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 25% lower than 1990 levels, by 2020. This victory follows yesterday's release of a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report with the sternest warnings yet about the terrifying threats posed by global climate change.

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9 October 2018

Dutch appeals court uphold landmark climate change ruling

Author: Arthur Nelsen, The Guardian


A court in The Hague has upheld a historic legal order on the Dutch government to accelerate carbon emissions cuts, a day after the world’s climate scientists warned that time was running out to avoid dangerous warming.
Appeal court judges ruled that the severity and scope of the climate crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020 – measured against 1990 levels – higher than the 17% drop planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration.
Judge Tan de Sonnaville rules that “The Dutch government cannot hide behind other countries’ emissions. It has an independent duty to reduce emissions from its own territory.”
Rutte’s administration has pledged to reduce emissions by 49% by 2030, but in nearly three decades, the country has so far only cut its emissions by 13%. 
Paul van der Zanden, a spokesman for the Netherlands’ economic affairs and climate ministry said … that a 25% emissions cut by 2020 was “feasible”.
Dennis van Berkel, the legal counsel for Urgenda, which brought the case, told the Guardian that the ruling “has consequences for all governments [from Norway to New Zealand and from the UK to Uganda]. By delaying [climate] actions and not increasing them to the highest possible level – they are violating the rights of their people.”

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9 October 2018

Europe's courts are holding governments to account for climate change

Author: Rick Noack, The Washington Post

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[A German] planned protest turned into a party after it was announced that a court had just temporarily blocked one of Europe’s powerful energy companies, RWE, from continuing to clear away one of Germany’s oldest forests [Hambach Forest] to make space for a coal mine ...
Courts in Germany and other European Union countries are posing a growing challenge to governments and business interests in regard to climate change in recent months, as scientists have stepped up their warnings that the world has little time left to prevent a human-made global disaster.
On [9 October 2018], an appeals court in the Netherlands ordered officials to cut greenhouse gas emissions more rapidly than so far envisioned, handing a victory to 900 citizens who had sued the government. Last month, a German court banned all old diesel vehicles from the city center of Frankfurt, after Germany’s top administrative court had found earlier this year that the highly polluting cars could be restricted from accessing busy roads across the country. Similar decisions could follow, potentially Tuesday, when a Berlin court is expected to make a ruling on the same grounds.
Several other lawsuits are still being processed, including one by a group of litigants from France, Germany, Sweden and other countries who argue that the E.U.'s failure to force member states to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions violates the law ... The E.U. itself is preparing to sue member states over their failure to cut emissions ...
When E.U. member states exceed their emissions targets, they can purchase the right to emit more from other countries that have not exhausted their limits. That way, the E.U wants to keep overall emissions limited and provide an incentive to countries to lower emissions themselves ... 
Germany may have to pay $70 billion over the next decade to compensate for its additional emissions ... [which can be explained by the fact that] it continues to heavily rely on coal, one of the most polluting energy sources ... [and] Germany’s decision to give up nuclear energy after the devastating 2011 Fukushima disaster and a lack of transport routes that would distribute renewable energy produced in northern Germany’s wind parks across the country.

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