Last month, The District Court in the Hague ruled in favour of sustainability foundation Urgenda, and imposed a legal duty on the government to reduce at least 25% of the Netherlands’ emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

Based on the State’s current policy, the Netherlands will achieve a reduction of 17% at most in 2020, which is below the norm of 25% to 40% for developed countries deemed necessary in climate science and international climate policy, and in a breach of the duty of care to its citizens. The complete verdict (in video or text) can be found at Urgenda’s website.

This is the first time that any judge has legally required a State to take such precautions, important precedent in the movement against climate change. Belgium has already launched a similar case against its government, Norway and Australia are planning to do so, and in the Philippines citizens are demanding legal action on fossil fuel companies. On July 1, a US Court ordered US judge ordered the Washington State Department of Ecology to consider statewide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Coming within the same month that Pope Francis released an strong worded, scientifically informed encyclical on the environment, civil society is heaping the pressure on politicians to forge a new deal on climate change at the UN negotiations in Paris this November.

Written by