Urgenda returns to court in the climate case, and demands punishment from the state

Urgenda returns to court in the climate case, and demands punishment from the state

Previously, Urgenda was able to dictate that the Dutch state should do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Now that this has not happened, Urgenda demands a punishment.

The Climate Organization has threatened to return to court in May if the cabinet does not come up with additional climate measures within a month. Since the climate portfolio was given a new name with Secretary of State Dylan Yesilgus, the government was given a little more time.

But according to Menesma, it’s taking a long time now. “What’s necessary doesn’t happen, it seems to have to go back to court,” Menesma says.

Urgenda case, what was it again?

The Urgenda case revolves around reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands. Sustainability organization and Dutch state Urgenda both believe this should happen, but they differ on speed.

The state wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent in 2020 compared to emissions in 1990. Urgenda thought that was too little. More than ten years ago, in the United Nations climate treaty, the Dutch country promised to emit at least 25 percent of carbon dioxide by 2020.

Urgenda found in 2013 that the state had not done enough to achieve that goal and filed a lawsuit. Both the Court and the Court of Appeal ruled in Urgenda’s favour. The Dutch state subsequently appealed in cassation.

In December 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that Urgenda was right. This means that greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands must be reduced by 25% by the end of next year compared to 1990.

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Between 100 million and 2 billion

The Climate Organization is demanding a fine from the state that, according to Minisma, could amount to between 100 million and 2 billion euros. “It is up to the judge to choose the amount. It is possible that we will also go to the European Court of Human Rights to file a complaint against the Netherlands.” The state must pay such a penalty if it does not act according to the rules within a certain period.

In response, Yesilgos described it as “disappointing that the Urgenda Foundation will go to court again.” In the coming weeks, the government will consider measures to halve carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, and has emphasized that measures are not waiting.

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