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Dutch Court Rules Climate Inaction Illegal

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It is Now Illegal Not to Cut CO2 Emissions!

The Dutch are known for progressive social legislation and intelligent policies. Now they have added a new twist to the climate change story: three Dutch judges have ruled that government plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

A court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch government to cut national CO2 emissions by at least 25% within five years.

This was the first climate liability suit brought under human rights and tort law. Climate change committments have been made between states, where there is no real enforcement mechanism. This ruling brings civil legislation in national courts into play. It is likely there will be similar cases before the courts in several countries by the time the Paris talks roll around in October. If a similar case were brought to the court in Canada, and if the case was not thrown out immediately, it would eventually go to the Supreme Court. What an interesting battle that would be! Would our Federal Government fight it tooth and nail?

The judges’ ruling included a statement that could be addressed directly to our current Prime Minister: “The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch effort.” Just because other are not acting is not a satisfactory excuse for the Dutch (or us Canadians) to go on pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.



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