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ClientEarth Communications

26th June 2018

Rule of law
Air pollution
Access to Justice for a Greener Europe

Dutch government can keep CO2 aviation rules secret – court rules

A court in Utrecht has ruled that the Dutch Government does not have to publish a report on how environmental standards for aircrafts are drafted.

Dutch environmentalists Natuur & Milieu, supported by Transport & Environment and ClientEarth, who filed the complaint, have called on Dutch and other European governments not to use this ruling as a free pass to keep how aviation rules are drafted secret.

ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said: “We are disappointed that the court ruled in favour of secrecy. Emissions from aviation have a global impact that affects all of us.

“The public has the right to access information on how these emissions will be reduced and participate in decisions that affect their health and environment. These issues are just too important to be regulated in secret.”

CO2 emission standards for aircrafts were established for the first time in 2016. A document from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN organisation dealing with the standards, contains information about how they were developed. The Netherlands is a member of ICAO, but refuses to give the report to Natuur & Milieu as well as other organisations, journalists and parliamentarians.

The judgment means the Dutch authorities have no obligation to make the report public.

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Director of Natuur & Milieu Marjolein Demmers said: “In order to be able to assess the standards, it is necessary to have clarity about what they are based on.

"Strict CO2 standards for aircrafts are important to limit emissions. But we can only assess whether the standards are ambitious enough, if we know exactly what they are based on."

Aviation Manager at Transport & Environment Andrew Murphy added: “Governments are continuing to hide behind ICAO secrecy rules to disguise the fact that proposed measures will do nothing to cut emissions from the sector.

“Either the Netherlands and other European governments open up ICAO to proper scrutiny by publishing these documents, or they should stop working through this agency until it changes its ways.”

Natuur & Milieu, together with Transport & Environment and ClientEarth, are examining the possibility of an appeal.