Thursday, June 25, 2015

Climate change: Taking it to court

The Netherlands is one of the countries most at risk from climate change, but its government isn't doing enough to stop it. So a group of Dutch citizens went to court to get a tougher emissions-reduction target, and won:

A Dutch court has ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020, in a case environmentalists hope will set a precedent for other countries.

Campaigners brought the case on behalf of almost 900 Dutch citizens.

They argued the government had a legal obligation to protect its citizens from the dangers of climate change.

The case was a straight-out tort, made possible by the clear and obvious harm the plaintiffs would suffer if emissions continue: sea levels would rise and they would be under water. That's not going to be possible everywhere. OTOH, a case from people in low-lying regions, or areas affected by flooding or drought, might be an interesting option in New Zealand.