State must achieve higher reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in short term

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The Hague, 09 oktober 2018

The emission of greenhouse gases must be reduced by at least 25% by the end of 2020 compared to the level of 1990. That has been ruled today by The Hague Court of Appeal in the case between Urgenda and the Dutch State. With this ruling, the Court of Appeal has upheld the judgment of The Hague District Court in the climate case.

Urgenda and the State both agree that the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, entails serious risks for life on earth. Urgenda therefore wants the State to take action to achieve lower emissions sooner than within the time frame currently envisaged by the State. The Hague Court of Appeal shares Urgenda’s view on this matter. Considering the great dangers that are likely to occur, more ambitious measures have to be taken in the short term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the life and family life of citizens in the Netherlands. The Court of Appeal has based its ruling on the State’s legal duty to ensure the protection of the life and family life of citizens, also in the long term. This legal duty is enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Court disagrees with the State that courts have no right to take decisions in this area. The Court has to apply directly effective provisions of treaties to which the Netherlands is party. These provisions form part of the Dutch legal order and even take precedence over deviating Dutch laws.