Despite calls from top scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the almost 900 co-plaintiffs, the Dutch government declined to pull the appeal against the historic verdict in the Dutch climate case.
“To appeal the outcome of this case only weeks before the start of the climate summit in Paris shows that the Dutch government is still not treating this issue with the urgency it so desperately needs.
” Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda and initiator to the climate case. “We have full confidence in the outcome of the appeal.”
Government intends to challenge the facts
In a debate last Thursday several parliamentary groups urged the government to allow a fast-track procedure that would have led the case straight to the Supreme Court, saving precious time and money. Several motions requesting the government to change its course in the appeal decision failed to obtain the required majority in a vote in Parliament today. The government argued against the motion because it wanted to be able to also challenge facts upon which the verdict is based. This requires the procedure to go through the Appeals Court.
During the initial proceedings, the State had acknowledged in a letter to Urgenda the need for developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%-40% before 2020 (compared to 1990) in order to have a reasonable chance of staying under 2 degrees of warming.
Despite the appeal, the Dutch climate case has made an impact in Dutch politics. “Climate change is now firmly on the political agenda, having been ignored for much too long.”
says Marjan Minnesma.
A global impact
The judgement has also made waves that go far beyond the borders of the Netherlands. “The climate case verdict has put the rights of citizens firmly at the centre of climate change debate. It has inspired citizens and organisations form all around the world. Several new climate cases are being prepared, so we’ll see a lot more climate litigation in 2016.”
A group of leading international scientists, lawyers, doctors and scholars working in the climate field sent an open letter to the Dutch Prime Minister and Vice Prime Minister, acknowledging their right to appeal, but respectfully asking them not to. Signers of the letter included experts James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, Richard Heede and Michael Gerrard. The Letter mentions the groundbreaking and historic character of the judgement “…which has given new hope for progress on a problem that has been dogged by inertia in international negotiations
.” Find the full letter here
What happens next?
If Urgenda wins the case at the Supreme Court (which can take 2-3 years), the Dutch government would still have to reach 25% reduction at the end of 2020, so waiting is not an option. Minnesma: “The government has confirmed its promise to start working towards the 25% reduction target in 2020 pending the case
The government will now formulate the grounds of its appeal, which it is not expected to file before early next year. Urgenda must reply before a hearing takes place to the Court of Appeal. A verdict is not expected before the end of 2016. After a verdict of the Court of Appeal, the parties will then have the opportunity to go to the Supreme Court.