The judge said exactly what we wanted and had the courage and wisdom to say to the government: `You have a duty of care toward your citizens,”‘ said Marjan Minnesma, the director of Urgenda….
National and international celebrations for climate breakthrough
The Hague, 24 June 2015 – Urgenda and nine hundred co-plaintiffs were victorious in the climate case today, forcing the Dutch government to adopt more stringent climate policies. The district court of The Hague has granted the plaintiffs’ claims, and the government is now required to take more effective climate action to reduce the Netherlands’ considerable share in global emissions. This is the first time that a judge has legally required a State to take precautions against climate change. This verdict will provide support to all the other climate cases around the world.
“All the plaintiffs are overjoyed by the result. This makes it crystal clear that climate change is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with much more effectively, and that states can no longer afford inaction. States are meant to protect their citizens, and if politicians will not do this of their own accord, then the courts are there to help,” says Urgenda director Marjan Minnesma, who in 2013 initiated this case against the Dutch State with a team of lawyers and nine hundred co-plaintiffs. “It’s all up to the State now. Luckily, sustainable solutions are ripe for the picking.” [Ernst had planned to become energy self sufficient when she purchased her land at Rosebud and install alternate, non harm causing energy producing systems. Legal fees and court costs have destroyed that plan.]
State ordered to further limit greenhouse gas emissions Press Release by the Court, Den Haag , 24-6-2015
The Hague District Court has ruled today 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 Urgenda Foundation had requested the court for a ruling.
State must provide protection
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. Moreover, the costs of the measures ordered by the court are not unacceptably high. Therefore, 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. [Emphasis added]
Verdict in Dutch climate case – with English subtitles by Urgenda, June 25, 2015
Urgenda and nine hundred co-plaintiffs were victorious in the climate case June 24th 2015, forcing the Dutch government to adopt more stringent climate policies. The district court of The Hague has granted the plaintiffs’ claims, and the government is now required to take more effective climate action to reduce the Netherlands’ considerable share in global emissions. This is the first time that a judge has legally required a State to take precautions against climate change. This verdict will provide support to all the other climate cases around the world.
The discretionary power of the State to fulfill its public duties does not significantly alter this fact.
The Court is able to rule in this case, on grounds of the legal responsibility of the court to offer judicial protection against unlawful behaviour also in cases against the government.
But it is here also the case that, since the severity of the danger increases the legal duty of the government there are also fewer reasons for such restraint by the court.
The trial costs will be covered by the State. In budgeting these costs, the court has deviated from the usual rate for legal fees. The court is doing this, because this is a complicated case, in which large social and financial interests were covered. The court will apply the maximum lump sum fee. … The court is demanding the State to cover the trial costs of Urgenda, representing itself and has budgeted these costs at 13,521 euros and 82 cents, to be multiplied by the legal interest rate starting 14 days after this verdict.
Netherlands ordered to slash greenhouse gases by Dutch court, Ruling calls for 25% cut by 2020 from benchmark 1990 levels by Mike Corder, The Associated Press, June 24, 2015, CBC News
A Dutch court ordered the Netherlands Wednesday to slash greenhouse gas emissions to help fight global warming, a landmark ruling in a case brought by hundreds of concerned citizens that could pave the way for similar legal battles around the world.
Climate activists in a packed courtroom in The Hague erupted into cheers as Presiding Judge Hans Hofhuis told Dutch authorities to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020 from benchmark 1990 levels. The country currently is on track for a 17 per cent reduction, and it is not clear how it can achieve the further cut.
Environmentalists hailed the ruling as a victory in efforts to push governments to take more action to tackle global warming against a backdrop of slow-moving international negotiations aimed at forging a global agreement.
“The verdict is a milestone in the history of climate legislation, because it is the first time that a government was ordered to raise its climate ambition by a court,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe. “We hope this kind of legal action will be replicated in Europe and around the world.”
Greenpeace called the Dutch ruling “a game-changer in the fight against climate change.”
The Dutch case may have already helped spur environmentalists in other countries into legal action.
Activists say a similar case is coming in Belgium and in Norway, a coalition of non-government groups is working on a case challenging their government’s licensing of new oil blocks in the Arctic, saying it violates the constitutional obligation to protect the climate.
“This is a great victory. The judge said exactly what we wanted and had the courage and wisdom to say to the government: `You have a duty of care toward your citizens,”‘ said Marjan Minnesma, the director of Urgenda, the non-government group that brought the civil case on behalf of some 900 Dutch citizens.
Minnesma said Urgenda is ready to share details of its case with activists in other countries, saving them time and money in preparing the legal arguments. …
MUST LISTEN: 6:45 Min. Carol Off’s interview with Urgenda director Marjan Minnesma: “There is a Duty of Care.”
The Dutch plaintiffs argued — and the court agreed — that the government has a legal obligation to protect its people against looming dangers, including the effects of climate change on this low-lying country. Large swaths of the Netherlands are below sea level and vulnerable to rising sea levels blamed on global warming.
Government studying ruling
The Dutch government, which can appeal, said it was studying the ruling. [LISTEN TO INTERVIEW ABOVE, FOR INTERESTING COMMENTS BY MARJAN ON THIS]
Environment Minister Wilma Mansveld said the government and Urgenda “share the same goal. We just hold different opinions regarding the manner in which to attain this goal.” Mansveld said the Dutch are working toward European Union greenhouse targets — cutting emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, from 1990 levels.
“Preventing climate change is the most successful when as many countries as possible join forces,” Mansveld said.
But judges said they want more action from the minister.
“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,” read a statement from the court.
To avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change, which is caused by heat-trapping carbon dioxide being released by burning fossil fuels, countries around the world have agreed that global temperatures should stay below a two-degree rise compared with pre-industrial times.
A UN climate science panel has stated that to have a two-thirds chance of staying below that mark the world must cut emissions by some 40 to 70 per cent by 2050.
While the Netherlands is known as a land of windmills, it is also a country with vast natural gas reserves that are used to power millions of households. It lags behind many of its European neighbours in the amount of energy it consumes from clean, renewable sources like wind or solar power.
According to the EU statistics agency Eurostat, only 4.5 per cent of Dutch energy consumption came from renewables in 2013, compared to an EU average of 15 per cent. Sweden led the way with just over 52 per cent.
Renewable energy accounted for about 10 per cent of total U.S. energy consumption in 2014, according to the country’s Energy Information Agency.
The Dutch court said it was difficult to judge the economic impact of its ruling on Dutch companies, but said “climate policy can have a negative effect for one sector, but a positive effect for another.”
Dutch business organization VNO-NCW did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the ruling’s possible effects on its members.
Bill Hare, senior scientist at Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organization based in Berlin, said the Dutch ruling’s impact could be massive. “[This] has the potential to become a precedent whose effect will ultimately flow through to undermining the markets for coal, oil and gas,” he said. [Emphasis added]
How EU action could save Earth from climate disaster: Roger Cox at TEDxFlanders March 29, 2014
Roger Cox is a Dutch attorney at law and pragmatic visionary. In his book Revolution Justified he calls for judicial intervention to save the planet and humanity. Due to the inaction of governments to adequately regulate greenhouse gases to avoid the dangers of climate change, governments themselves have now become a danger to society, Roger Cox says. That’s why according to Roger, the law is now our only hope of really averting dangerous climate change and of breaking the status quo in the energy world. Following the script of his book Roger sued the Dutch government before the court in the Hague for it’s failing climate policies, in cooperation with the Dutch NGO Urgenda and a thousand Dutch citizens as plaintiffs. He is also setting up a network of plaintiffs for similar proceedings in other European countries.
Roger Cox – Do states have a constitutional duty to safeguard the environment? 2:24 Min. March 2, 2015