04.24.2020

Dutch officials reveal measures to cut emissions after court ruling

ordered the government in December to reduce emissions by 15 megatonnes in 2020. The judges accepted Urgenda’s argument that climate change posed a dangerous threat to human rights and the Netherlands needed to accelerate its actions to meet its international commitment of a 25% cut compared with 1990. To comply, the government has adopted 30 of the proposals in Urgenda’s “54 Climate Solutions Plan”, which was drawn up in collaboration with 800 civil society groups and other organisations. The headline change is a 75% reduction in capacity at the country’s three coal-fired power stations, all of which have been opened in the past five years. The government is also reportedly in negotiations to close one of these plants. In addition, it will provide about €400m for household energy saving measures such as double glazing, €360m to compensate farmers for livestock reductions, and €30m for LED lighting in greenhouses. Along with earlier steps – including lower speed limits to control emissions of nitrogen dioxide, €2bn for rooftop solar and other forms of renewable energy, solar panels on all school rooftops, more sustainable forestry and changes in the use of concrete, the measures are expected to save 8 megatonnes of emissions this year and provide extra benefits in terms of air quality and wildlife habitat. Minnesma said this should be seen as a “promising start” because the government is still about 4 megatonnes short of its obligations. She said the coronavirus lockdown should not be used as an excuse to backpedal. The package was presented to parliament on Friday afternoon. The government said the measures would provide an economic stimulus and also help to reduce nitrogen pollution, which has been the subject of other legal actions. MPs said the package should inspire activists across the world to pursue litigation against governments that drag their feet. “Without a doubt this should encourage climate lawsuits in other countries. It’s a shining example,” said Green party politician Tom van der Lee. “This package wouldn’t be there without an order from the highest court. Without that verdict, the government would have chosen a slower trajectory.” The environmental law charity ClientEarth said the result was unprecedented in Europe and testament to the impact of climate litigation, which is spreading around the world. “The Urgenda case should be considered a groundbreaking success, not just legally, but for driving real world action on climate change,” Sophie Marjanac, a ClientEarth lawyer. The Dutch legal system’s ease of access and political independence of judges helped to make the case possible. If Urgenda had lost, they would only have had to pay €18,000 rather than the government’s extensive costs. The Urgenda case has been closely watched around the world. While climate activists have welcomed the outcome, they urge the Netherlands to raise ambition beyond 2020 compliance with the orders of the supreme court. “The Netherlands now needs to lay out a strategy to reach net zero by around the middle of this century,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.]]>

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