A Human Rights Lawsuit Aiming to Tackle Climate Change

By Ena Cefo

The Urgenda Foundation together with 900 co-plaintiffs is leading a lawsuit against the Dutch government for failing to reduce gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The lawsuit follows the release of the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations by legal experts who outlined governments’ pre-existing legal responsibilities—to “avert climate change and its catastrophic effects” and “to ensure that the global average surface temperature increase never exceeds pre-industrial temperature by more than 2 degrees Celsius”—on the basis of currently existing international human rights law, environmental law and tort law. The Urgenda case requests that the court: “(1) declare that global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a violation of fundamental human rights worldwide ... (2) declare that the Dutch state is acting unlawfully by not contributing its proportional share to preventing a global warming ... [and] (3) order the Dutch state to drastically reduce Dutch CO2 emissions... by 40% ... below 1990 levels.” The hearing began on April 14th, 2015 in the district court in The Hague.