The Urgenda Foundation sued the Dutch government on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens for not having ambitious enough efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Within the legal context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, and European Union and Dutch law, Urgenda claimed that the Dutch government’s failure to commit to a greater emission reduction by the end of 2020, was unlawful because it violates proper social conduct and is contrary to the duty of care required of the Dutch Civil Code and Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Dutch government argued that it adheres to convention obligations and agreements and, acknowledging the climate problem, has adopted and proposed policies that will reduce emissions between 19-27% by 2020. The Hague District Court ruled in favour of Urgenda, ordering the government to limit GHG emissions to at least 25% below the 1990 levels by 2020. The Dutch government appealed the decision on 29 grounds, including, inter alia, inadmissibility, the asserted unlawfulness, the severity of climate change, and the trias politica role of the courts. The Hague Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, affirming that the Dutch government has done too little to prevent dangerous climate change and upholding the District Court’s judgment. The Dutch government has since filed for appeal to the Supreme Court.
Environmental Legal Questions: