Urgenda Landmark Climate Case
The 2015 Urgenda Climate Case against the Dutch Government was the first in the world in which citizens held their government accountable for contributing to dangerous climate change. On 24 June 2015, the District Court of The Hague ruled the government must cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). The ruling required the government to immediately take more effective action on climate change.
The case, which was brought on behalf of 886 Dutch citizens, made climate change a major political and social issue in the Netherlands and transformed domestic climate change policy. It inspired climate change cases in Belgium, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland and the US.
In September 2015, despite calls from leading scientists, lawyers, citizens, companies and the 886 co-plaintiffs for it to accept the decision, the Dutch government decided to appeal the judgment. It made this decision even though it is taking steps to meet the target set by the Court. The appeal was heard at the Hague Court of Appeal on 28 May 2018. On 9 October 2018, the Hague Court of Appeal decided to uphold the 2015 court decision. In other words Urgenda won again.
To facilitate better understanding of the case, the Urgenda Foundation has made documents relevant to the Climate Case available in English. Here you can find translations of legal documents, including the summons, statement of reply, pleadings, judgment and a summary.
New titles Urgenda Case
- Dellinger, M., "See You in Court: Around the World in Eight Climate Change Lawsuits", William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, 42 (2018), No. 2, pp. 525-551.
- Loth, M., "Too Big to Trial? Lessons from the Urgenda Case", Uniform Law Review, 23 (2018), No. 2, pp. 336-353.
- Loth, M., "Climate Change Liability after All: A Dutch Landmark Case", Tilburg Law Review, 21 (2016), No. 1, pp. 5-30.
The Peace Palace Library has created a bibliographic overview on the Urgenda climate case. It provides materials available in the Peace Palace Library catalogue, both in print and electronic format.