Natural Justice have developed a series of summaries of significant court cases from across the world related to climate change and rights of nature. These are designed for the public, policy makers and practitioners and provide a snapshot of cases that are being brought to courts in order to advance the protection and rights of nature, including seeking ways to hold governments accountable for their international commitments to reducing carbon emissions.
Urgenda Foundation v The State of the Netherlands
Until 2011, the State of the Netherlands felt it was necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. However, later, the State aligned its policy with the European Union’s emissions target, lowering the target to 20% without providing scientific reasoning. A citizen’s platform, Urgenda, approached The Hague District Court asking for the Court to order the State to achieve a more ambitious level of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020. In 2015, The Hague District Court ordered the State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020. The State appealed the decision.
The State of the Netherlands v Urgenda Foundation (Urgenda II)
The State of the Netherlands appealed a decision of The Hague District Court which ordered the State to achieve a more ambitious level of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020. This case was brought by the Urgenda Foundation, a citizen’s platform established to challenge the unambitious goals of the State after it changed it’s goals from a 30% to a 20% reduction. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands agreed with the lower court and ordered the State to adopt a more ambitious target, finding that the government’s failure to take responsibility for the Netherlands’ contribution to the climate crisis is a breach of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).