Supreme court upholds Urgenda ruling, Dutch state must cut pollution

December 20, 2019 | News

"The Supreme Court reproves the Dutch State for acting inconsistently on this major policy issue and for failing to substantiate its inconsistency.”

The Dutch State must have lowered greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 25% in 2020 compared to 1990 levels. On Friday, the Dutch Supreme Court came to this conclusion in the civil action brought against the Dutch State by climate action group Urgenda.

Environmental Law and Administrative law partner Gerrit van der Veen commented: “The Supreme Court has affirmed the Court of Appeal's ruling that the Dutch State must lower greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% (compared to 1990 levels) before the end of 2020. The Supreme Court based its decision on Articles 2 and 8 of the ECHR and stressed that on several occasions EU Member States have expressed the necessity of lowering emissions by at least 30% in 2020.”

Gerrit continued: “In this light, the Supreme Court, confirming the decision of the Court of Appeal, strongly censured the State in that until 2011 the State's very policy was to achieve the 30% target in order for its policy to remain credible, but then lowered its reduction target without explaining why that would constitute responsible policy. Thus, the Supreme Court reproves the Dutch State for acting inconsistently on this major policy issue and for failing to substantiate its inconsistency.”

This final decision marks the end of a case that lasted nearly six years. Late 2013, Urgenda, backed by almost 900 co-claimants, brought legal action against the Dutch State. Urgenda claimed that the State was acting unlawfully against its citizens by failing to pursue adequate policies to tackle climate change.

Before today's Supreme Court's ruling, Gerrit van der Veen was interviewed by Dutch magazine Elsevier. The article can be read here (in Dutch). Gerrit also commented in the Dutch newspaper het Financieele Dagblad. Click here to read the article (in Dutch). 

 

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