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THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2015
Court orders Dutch govt to cut emissions
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 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) rise compared to pre-industrial times.
tal activists that could have
global repercussions, a court
ordered the government yes-
terday to cut the country s
greenhouse gas emissions by
at least 25 per cent by 2020 to
help fight global warming.
The ruling by The Hague Dis-
trict Court could lay the founda-
tions for similar cases around the
world, said the director of the
organisation that took the gov-
ernment to court on behalf of 900
Climate activists in the packed
courtroom clapped and cheered
as Presiding Judge Hans Hofhuis
read the ruling, which Greenpeace
called "a game-changer in the
fight against climate change."
The ruling came in the same
month that Pope Francis released
a massive encyclical on the envi-
ronment urging nations to quickly
overhaul their economies to cut
emissions and save the Earth.
Neighbouring France will also
host a significant UN conference
on fighting global warming later
this year in Paris.
The Dutch plaintiffs argued---
and the court agreed---that the
government has a legal obligation
to protect its people against loom-
ing 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.
The Dutch government can
appeal the ruling to a higher
court, but did not immediately
say if it would.
"This is a great victory---the
judge said exactly what we want-
ed and had the courage and wis-
dom to say to the government
you have a duty of care toward
your citizens, " said Marjan Min-
nesma, director of Urgenda, the
group that filed the case.
"A courageous judge. This is
fantastic," said Sharona Ceha,
Citizens must be protected
Urgenda Foundation director Marjan Minnesma hugs lawyer Roger
Cox, left, after a Dutch court ordered the government to cut
greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2020 in a
groundbreaking climate case that activists hope will set a worldwide
precedent in The Hague, Netherlands, yesterday. AP PHOTOS
another Urgenda worker.
"This is for my children and
Dutch government lawyers
swiftly left the courtroom after
the judgment. The Ministry
for Infrastructure and Envi-
ronment had no immediate
To avoid the most dan-
gerous impacts of cli-
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 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) rise
compared to pre-industrial
A UN climate science panel has
stated that to have a two-thirds
chance of staying below that
mark the world must cut emis-
sions by some 40 to 70 per cent
Overseas groups also hailed
the decision as a victory.
"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
"We hope this kind of legal
action will be replicated in
Europe and around the world,
pushing governments who are
dragging their feet on climate
action to scale up their efforts."
Trio added that the Dutch
court did not go far enough.
"The target should be much
higher than 25 per cent in order
to be truly in line with what is
needed to tackle climate change,"
The Dutch court said based on
current government climate pol-
icy, the Netherlands will cut its
emissions by only 17 per cent by
2020, compared with benchmark
"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.
It remains unclear exactly how
the court can enforce its ruling.
It has the power to impose fines
on those failing to carry out its
orders, but it has never used such
powers against the government
and Urgenda did not request such
a move, said judge Peter Blok.
Activists say a similar case is
coming in Belgium. In Norway, a
coalition of non-government
groups is working on a case chal-
lenging the Norwegian govern-
ment s licensing of new oil blocks
in the Arctic, saying it violates
the constitutional obligation to
protect the climate.
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