'A Win for the Planet!': Dutch Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Mandating Climate Action

Advocates for climate action celebrated Friday after the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld a landmark ruling that found the Dutch government is obligated under international human rights law to more ambitiously reduce greenhouse gas emissions that drive global heating.

The case was initially launched in 2013 by the nonprofit Urgenda Foundation on behalf of hundreds of Dutch citizens and has been repeatedly appealed.

“Today, at a moment when people around the world are in need of real hope that governments will act with urgency to address the climate crisis, the Dutch Supreme Court has delivered a groundbreaking decision that confirms that individual governments must do their fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” an Urgenda spokesperson said after the ruling.

The court ruled that the Dutch government must cut emissions by at least 25% compared with 1990 levels by the end of 2020 “because of the risk of a dangerous climate change that can also seriously affect the residents of the Netherlands in their right to life and well-being,” according to a translation from BuzzFeed News.

Tessa Kahn, co-director of the Climate Litigation Network, took to Twitter to highlight former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson’s reaction to the ruling:

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The ruling is “a victory for the climate, for our planet, and for future generations,” declared Greenpeace International general counsel Jasper Teulings, who welcomed the news in a tweet. “Now let’s put this in action.”

Urgenda’s win “could inspire people worldwide to hold governments legally accountable for #ClimateChange,” the Greenpeace International account said on Twitter. “This puts all laggard governments on notice: act now or see you in court.”

Reporting on the news out of the Netherlands Friday, Forbes pointed out that “inspired by the success of Urgenda’s case, other organizations brought their representatives to court. Similar legal initiatives are taking place in several countries, including Belgium, Canada, Pakistan, and the United States.”

Meanwhile, back in the Netherlands—as the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth noted Friday—Urgenda is also suing fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell for its contributions to the global climate crisis.

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