Netherland government loses landmark greenhouse gas appeal

Netherland government on Tuesday lost a legal appeal against a landmark court ruling which ordered it to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 percent by 2020.

The Hague appeals court upheld a 2015 court victory by environmental rights group Urgenda, which sought to force a national reduction of emissions blamed for global warming.

“The state is acting unlawfully and in violation of the duty of care,” the ruling said, according to the Netherland news agency ANP.

The government had argued that “because the court made a policy and political choice” it had overreached its powers.

The low-lying Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to sea level rises caused by climate change.

Urgenda director Marjan Minnesma, center right, hugs members of her legal team after the court turned down an appeal of the Dutch government against a 2015 landmark ruling ordering the government to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020 in a climate case that activists hope will set a worldwide precedent, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Urgenda hailed the decision, saying on Twitter: “The judge made mincemeat out of the state’s appeal. A 25 percent drop by 2020 is only the minimum! The government needs to work!”.

The group brought the case in April 2015 on behalf of some 900 Netherland citizens.

The court at the time found in favour of the rights group, exhorting the government to do more in a ruling handed down a few months ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The global Paris deal sets out measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent temperatures rising by more than two degrees Celsius.

The appeals court ruling comes a day after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) said in a landmark report Monday that warming is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise and avoiding global chaos will require a major transformation.

The Netherland government has plans to close two of its oldest coal-fire plants by 2025.

Three remaining coal plants will have to shut by 2030, with the Netherlands committed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 49 percent by then.

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