Court orders Dutch government to cut greenhouse gas emissions

A Dutch court ordered the government of the Netherlands on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions more than the country already had planned.

The ruling said the government should cut the country’s carbon emissions by at least 25 perfect over 1990 levels by 2020 rather than its stated goal of 14 to 17 percent, the Guardian reports

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In his ruling, the judge wrote that “any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.”

A green group organized about 900 citizens to sue the government over its reduction target, which is lower than the international standard for developed countries. The case was the first time climate change has been considered under human rights and tort law. 

A United Nations panel of scientists has said developed countries should look to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent over 1990 levels by 2020 to have a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. The group suing the Dutch government accused it of “knowingly contributing” to climate change by not setting its emissions goals higher. 

Pier Vellinga, the chairman of the group that brought the case, told the Guardian that the ruling “is of enormous significance, and beyond our expectations.”