Monday, April 20, 2015

Dutch suit over Climate Change

This is a story that is interesting because it is (somewhat) unexpected.  Holland is one of those places where environmental matters are treated with utmost seriousness.  The place is crawling with bicycles, the trains run often and on time, while preparations for rising sea levels is both serious and extensive (which is to be expected in a nation that has significant areas below sea level.)

And yet, we see that there are Dutch citizens willing to take their government to court for lack of action over Climate Change.  If those folks believe the Dutch government is being irresponsible, they should come here to see what real irresponsibility looks like.  But that is pretty much the whole point.  The Dutch have made the progress they have made because they have citizens like this.  And these activists are totally correct—not even the Dutch government is doing nearly enough.

Unfortunately, suing the government is not going to help much because the real problem is that the budgetary constraints forced on the country by the EU means they cannot spend what is required to meaningfully address the problem.  And in an odd way, the Dutch are partly responsible for that too.  One of the hard-core neoliberal crazies is Jeroen René Victor Anton Dijsselbloem, the Dutch Labor politician who has been president of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) since 11 February 2013.  He is enforcing the party line that made the Euro an instrument of neoliberal policy when it was signed into being in Maastricht Holland in 1992.  So even though Dijsselbloem is behaving in a wholly irresponsible way, he probably thinks he is the adult in the room.  I'll bet Herr Schauble just loves the young man.

Dutch Citizens Are Taking Their Government To Court Over Climate Change

Charlotte Alfred  04/17/2015

A group of Dutch citizens headed to court this week in a bold effort to hold their government accountable for its inaction over climate change.

The case, which opened at The Hague on Tuesday, was first filed by the Urgenda Foundation, a sustainability group, and 900 co-plaintiffs in the Netherlands in 2013.

The plaintiffs' lawyers argue that the current policies of the Dutch government are insufficient to halt climate change, and that the government is thus illegally endangering its citizens. They are asking the court to force the Netherlands to reduce its carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a far greater reduction than the government is currently aiming for.

The stakes are high for the Netherlands. Rising sea levels are a major concern for the low-lying country, where 60 percent of gross domestic product is produced below sea level.

The case also has the potential to set a stunning legal precedent -- that governments are required under human rights law to protect their citizens from climate change.

The idea came from Dutch lawyer Roger Cox, whose book Revolution Justified argues that the judiciary must force governments into action on climate change. “You cannot ruin your world and accept that this climate change will have human rights infringement effects all over the world and then decide that there’s no role for the law to play,” Cox told Pacific Standard this week.

The court is expected to rule within six months, according to The Guardian.

As Michael B. Gerrard, a professor of environmental law at Columbia University, explained to Vice News on Thursday, several similar attempts in the U.S. have ended in failure. "Who knows whether something will emerge that will inspire some U.S. judges," Gerrard said.

The case has already inspired some in Europe. A Belgian group called Climate Case is preparing a similar class action suit against the Belgian government, "because we do not want to organize a farewell party for humanity," the group says on its website.

"We are doing this because we love our country, the Belgians and our children," one of the group's founders, Serge de Gheldere, says on the Climate Case website. "Consider it as a lawsuit of love." more


  1. This is good news. Hopefully we'll start to see a domino effect as more citizens join class-action suits against their governments to put an end to this wilfull destruction. Can we name lobbyists and superpac-type funders as co-defendants?

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