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Historic climate litigation result stands after Dutch court victory

Climate litigators are celebrating after a second landmark court victory that will hold the Netherlands government to account for greater action on climate change.

The Hague Court of Appeal has upheld a historic win for the Urgenda Foundation on behalf of 886 Dutch citizens in their climate case, rejecting the Dutch government’s arguments.

A day after the UN IPCC report outlined the urgent climate action needed to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees, the Dutch court today affirmed that any less than a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by the Netherlands government before 2020 would be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dutch emissions are currently only 13% lower compared to 1990 levels and have stagnated during the last six years.

The original legal victory by Urgenda inspired a wave of climate lawsuits worldwide, brought by people determined to hold their governments accountable for a lack of climate action.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “Today’s news shows just what a powerful tool climate litigation has become in holding decision-makers to account for their climate inaction.

“For a second time now, a Dutch court has ruled that the country’s government has a constitutional duty to protect its citizens from the impacts of climate change and that anything less is a violation of their human rights.

“This second victory shows that Dutch judges have been clear about what the government must do now: accept both decisions and refocus its efforts on reducing its carbon emissions by 25% by 2020.

“This is the climate case that started it all, inspiring similar lawsuits worldwide. It has completely changed the debate on climate policy and will inspire people everywhere to use the power of the courts to hold their leaders to account for greater action on climate change.”

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