Dutch Court Upholds Climate Action as a Human Right
Perhaps establishing a new global precedent for a state’s obligation to its citizens in the face of a growing climate crisis, a Dutch court has ruled that the government has a legal duty to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The decision came in response to a 2013 law suit launched by the Amsterdam-based environmental nonprofit Urgenda Foundation and 600 Dutch citizens that argued the government was violating international human rights law by failing to take sufficient measures to combat rising greenhouse gas emissions.
A statement from the court reads, “The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty to provide care to protect and improve the living environment.”
In the United States, the youth-led movement Our Children’s Trust (OurChildrensTrust.org) is suing state governments and what they dub “the ruling generation” as accountable for climate inaction. As 350.org co-founder and Communications Director Jamie Henn noted after the ruling, “If the Netherlands sets a precedent, it’s a whole new ball game.” Other countries are weighing the situation, as well.