The Dutch supreme court on Friday ordered the government to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 percent by 2020 in a landmark case brought by an environmental group.
Campaigners from the Urgenda group cheered as judges dismissed an appeal by Prime Minister Mark Rutte‘s government against two earlier rulings telling it to cut emissions.
“The consensus in climate science and in the international community that developed countries will have to reduce their emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 is of special importance,” the judgement said.
“The court of appeal has rightly decided that the Dutch state has a positive obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to meet a reduction target of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 percent of 1990 levels by the end of 2020.”
Urgenda brought the case in April 2015 on behalf of some 900 citizens of the Netherlands, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change as around a third of the country lies below sea level.
“History is written,” Urgenda said in a tweet, describing it as a “win for the planet.”
Dozens of campaigners gathered outside the court in The Hague for the ruling, which is the final decision of the Dutch judiciary on the matter.
The Dutch government appealed both a lower court’s verdict backing Urgenda that same year, and an appeals court decision in the environmental group’s favor in 2018.
Greenpeace described the ruling as an “immense victory for climate justice.”
Congratulations @urgenda! This is an enormous legal victory for climate protection. Laggard governments take note: act now on the #ClimateEmergency, or see you in court. #ClimateCasehttps://t.co/7TqCIhcmuA
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) December 20, 2019
“The Dutch government must act now, there is no time to lose,” Greenpeace campaigner Faiza Oulahsen said, calling for the closure of coal-fired power stations and reduction of animal factory farming.
“Measures now will have to be drastic and the government owes that entirely to itself, because this verdict has not been taken seriously by prime minister Rutte for four years.”
In 2018 Dutch MPs unveiled ambitious new climate legislation aimed at reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050, while introducing an annual review to ensure targets are met.
But the government has also faced mass protests by farmers against separate legislation to cut emissions of pollution containing nitrogen.