CO2 emissions reach the Supreme Court of the Netherlands | Society

In June 2015, the Dutch justice set a historic precedent by ordering the Government to reduce by 25% by 2020, compared to 1990, the gases that cause the greenhouse effect (CO2). Urgenda, an NGO specializing in environmental sustainability, won the lawsuit that had been filed on the grounds that the authorities were obliged to protect the health of the citizen. In 2018, the Executive lost its first appeal, and the State's attorney said then that the courts had meddled in politics by stating that "if the rulers do not act against harmful industrial activities, the life of the current generation will be endangered". As the quota of emissions indicated by the judges is still far from being fulfilled, at the end of the year the case will again be seen in the Supreme Court.

Fulfilling Urgenda's request for 2020 requires, according to the Government, an investment of billions of euros, and although the Ministry of Economy and Climate does not reject the ruling, it has decided to go to the Supreme Court. "It's a matter of principle: we want to know if the judges will take the place of politicians there with their verdict," said Eric Wiebes, head of the department.

The judicial route followed by the case has coincided with the analysis of the Dutch agreement on climate, in charge of the Central Planning Office, specialized in macro economy. Presented in December after nine months of negotiations between 300 public and private organizations, the Executive and the industries, the pact aims to a reduction of CO2 of 49% by 2030, compared to 1990. The calculated cost can amount to 1,900 million euros per year. However, the Office said Wednesday that the planned measures, including the elimination of the use of natural gas and subsidies for electric cars, "may not be enough". It also points out that the middle and lower middle class, pensioners and citizens with subsidies will lose purchasing power due to the taxes derived from the plan.

The Government reacted immediately and proposed to reduce these rates from 2020 onwards for the population. In return, will set a "moderate" for the industry, particularly heavy. Support for the second-hand electric car, and the fight against pollution by agriculture "in exchange for extra money", in addition to storing less CO2, appear in turn among the new proposals. Unions and environmental groups showed their satisfaction at the change in government attitude, although the retouched agreement will return the experts to calculate their price. An answer is expected in April.

While the call of the Supreme Court for the final appeal arrives, Urgenda is not convinced by the government's economic argument on her case. Nor the possible citizen rejection of unpopular measures. "We are a constitutional state, not a banana republic. Judicial decisions are carried out, "says Marjan Minnesma, its director. In his opinion, "the closure of all coal power plants in the country" would contribute to reducing CO2.


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