Leading climate scientists, lawyers, doctors and scholars from around the world are calling on the Dutch Government to reconsider its plans to appeal the historic Urgenda judgement by a Dutch Court ordering the government to dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2020.
In a letter submitted yesterday to the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and Vice Prime Minister Asscher, renowned climate experts James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes and Michael Gerrard were among the 20 signatories urging the government to “accept a judgement which is solidly based in existing law, jurisprudence and the need to protect people from the harm associated with climate change”.
Earlier this month, the Dutch Government announced plans to appeal the decision. The deadline for filing an appeal is September 24, leaving just one more day for the government to formally submit an appeal – and just one more day for others to try and persuade it otherwise.
The groundbreaking court ruling, announced in June, “offers new hope for progress on a problem which has been dogged by inertia in international negotiations,” the letter reads. “The court simply applied existing law and science in order to protect present and future generations from harm. In the face of these grave and imminent threats, governments have a legal duty to act.”
The Urgenda judgement was the first climate liability suit brought under human rights and tort law and was the first time a court has determined that states have an independent legal obligation towards their citizens.
According to the court, the Dutch Government must cut its emissions by at least 25 percent within the next five years. The three judges ruled that the government’s original plans to cut emissions by just 14-17 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.
“To accept that governments have duties under the law to protect humanity from the dangers of climate change and that they need to do more to fulfil these would represent a display of leadership that the world needs at this time,” reads the letter.
“To solve the climate crisis, governments must accept that both the science and the law require them to act. The Netherlands now has an opportunity to lead the way in spreading this simple but powerful idea.”
Photo: Urgenda / Chantal Bekker