In a move that has “put the rest of the world on notice,” the Dutch Supreme Court has upheld a landmark climate change ruling that requires the Dutch government to accelerate cuts of carbon emissions.
It was called an “immense victory for climate justice,” according to AP.
The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that the severity of the climate change crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020, according to the Guardian. This is higher than the 17% drop in emissions that was planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration.
The ruling was greeted with cheers in the courtroom an will act as a tailwind for similar cases worldwide. Similar cases are being planned in places like Norway, New Zealand, Uganda and the UK.
Marjan Minnesma of the Dutch Urgenda Foundation said: “I am extremely happy that the highest court in the Netherlands has confirmed that climate change is a real, severe problem and that government should do what they themselves have declared for more than 10 years is necessary, namely between 25% and 40% reduction of CO2.”
Jesse Klaver, the leader of the Dutch Greens, said of the original ruling that it was “historic news” and said “Governments can no longer make promises they don’t fulfil. Countries have an obligation to protect their citizens against climate change. That makes this trial relevant for all other countries.”
To comply with the ruling, one new coal plan would have to be shut down. The state had argued that the judges were “sidelining democracy” by trying to force the policy change.
But Judge Tan de Sonnaville was unconvinced, ruling: “Climate change is a grave danger. Any postponement of emissions reductions exacerbates the risks of climate change. The Dutch government cannot hide behind other countries’ emissions. It has an independent duty to reduce emissions from its own territory.”
It has now been more than four years since a lower court first ruled on the emissions cut. The Dutch government then appealed the verdict, saying the courts shouldn’t be able to order the government to take action. The government lost the appeal in October 2018 and then appealed a second time.
Damian Rau, one of the plaintiffs that filed the case with Urgenda, said the decision “will set the action we so urgently need into motion and will force governments into taking their responsibility. The judgment is an example to the world that no one is powerless and everybody can make a difference.”
Rutte’s administration had already pledged to cut emissions by 49% by 2030. However, in 3 decades, the country has only cut emissions by 13%.
There was no word on whether or not Greta Thunberg showed up to the ruling to lecture and ridicule and the judges, had the ruling not gone her way.