A Netherlands court orders its government to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions

Don’t get too used to that ice.
Don’t get too used to that ice.
Image: Reuters/Michael Kooren
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The Netherlands is negligently violating its citizens’ human rights by not doing enough to lower its emissions of greenhouse gases, a Dutch district court ruled today in a landmark judgement, as it ordered the national government to speed up cuts to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

The case was brought by 900 Dutch citizens, led by the advocacy group Urgenda, who sued the national government for negligence. The lawsuit argued that the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change is indisputable, that climate change can be avoided if emissions are dramatically reduced, and that an inadequate reduction policy “poses a real threat for its citizens’ effective enjoyment of human rights.”

The Netherlands is currently on track to reduce its carbon emissions by only 14-17% by 2020, compared with emissions in 1990. Tjhe court ordered the government to reduce emissions by 25%—a much more aggressive target that will require new efforts beyond closing coal power plants and installing new offshore windmills.

Similar court cases have been initiated in Belgium and the Philippines, according to the BBC. In the United States, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, president Barack Obama has moved to cut emissions by regulating carbon dioxide emissions, but has faced a series of court challenges from business groups.