This was the week in which the Dutch court, called upon by the action group Urgenda, ordered the state to reduce CO₂ emissions by 25% (compared to 1990) before 2020. The judge obliged the state to massively increase the effort on behalf of the citizens. I watched the decision live on YouTube last Wednesday at 10 am. It made me cry. Twitter boomed shortly afterwards.
Most Dutch newspapers only made a small mention of the case. Facebook users waited a day to post it. It reached the New York times. What matters is that the news got out, also in the land of law. I can guarantee you that it is already causing a global snowball that will slowly but steadily turn us into a fully CO₂ neutral society.
So how did the court come to this decision? Some key points:
- The state has the duty to protect citizens.
- If called upon, the court hast the duty to correct the state if it does not adhere to this responsibility.
- The IPCC has proven a causal relationship between CO₂ and global warming, proof both the state and Urgenda agree upon.
- Global warming is dangerous for citizens.
- The point that you cannot show a direct causal relationship between Dutch CO₂ emissions and global warming related trouble in the Netherlands is not valid. It is the whole that counts here.
- It is possible and therefore mandatory to accomplish the given reduction.
- There is no reason to assume that shifting to sustainable energy sources would endanger the Netherlands’ economy or threaten its competitive global position.
- International climate treaties are irrelevant in this case, this is a reasonable minimum.
- Being highly industrialised increases the weight of this decision.
So it shall be done.
Now, similar cases are being held in Belgium and the US. People in Norway are preparing a case, and groups from Canada and Australia have already made phone calls with Urgenda. And law works such that judges will base their decisions on the landmark case.
Within the Netherlands, environmentalist political parties now have a lawful tool to force the attention on this problem, and present their solutions under a different light. The debate is no longer about ‘if’ but about ‘how?’. All party members have to listen to the court, that’s how it works here. It’s brilliant and it’s beautiful.
I’m looking forward to the avalanche.