Court has ordered Netherlands to reduce carbon emissions by 25% within five years in the world’s first climate change liability lawsuit

Court has ordered Netherlands to reduce carbon emissions by 25% within five years in the world’s first climate change liability lawsuit

In the first climate change liability lawsuit brought under human rights and tort law, a court in Hague today concluded that the threat posed by global warming was severe and acknowledged by the government of Netherland in international treaties. Therefore the government’s climate policy was ruled illegal and the three judges ordered the government to reduce carbon emissions by at least 25% within five years. Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions by just 14-17% by 2020 compared to 1990 were rejected as inadequate to protect the citizens from the effects of climate change.

The lawsuit was brought by The Dutch ‘Urgenda’ Foundation. Read the article ‘Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling’ from The Guardian and the article ‘Oslo Principles on obligations to reduce climate change (time for legal sanctions)‘. A similar lawsuit is underway in the neighboring country of Belgium.

Netherland’s per capita CO2 Emissions from fossil fuels in 1990 was 14.1 tons and the average emissions between 1990 and 2011 was 14.8 tons.

  • A 14% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 would lead to 12.1 tons in 2020 (or 14.3 tons on average between 1990 and 2020).
  • A 25% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 (or 2013) would lead to 10.6 tons in 2020.

The diagram below shows Netherland’s CO2 Emissions from fossil fuels in tons per capita since 1990 (black bars). The striped black bars illustrate a 25% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 (or 2013). The green bars illustrate the Contribution Free level in ClimatePositions – due to Netherland’s exceedances since 2000 the accumulated Climate Debt is now $4,298 per capita (see the ‘ranking‘ by Nov. 2014).

 

Netherlands, lawsuit CO2 reductions

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Source on CO2 Emissions: EIA, U.S. Energy Information Administration and data on preliminary national CO2 Emissions are from Global Carbon Project (links in the menu “Calculations”).
Drawing of three Dutch judges by Claus Andersen, 2015.

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