State to bring cassation proceedings in Urgenda case

The State will bring cassation proceedings in response to the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Urgenda case. The government would like the Supreme Court to consider a question of principle, namely how the government’s policy choices are reviewed by the courts. The cassation proceedings will not diminish the government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2020. The government will continue to make every effort to achieve this goal.

Last month, the Court of Appeal in The Hague upheld a previous judgment in Urgenda v. The State of the Netherlands, in which the district court ruled that carbon emissions in the Netherlands must be reduced by 25% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2020. Early next year, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) will present a forecast of carbon emissions in 2020. If the forecast indicates that additional measures will be needed to meet the target, the government will act accordingly.

The government has an ambitious climate agenda. It is commencing cassation proceedings to address the question of principle regarding the government’s freedom of choice in relation to policy. The court has found that the Netherlands has an obligation to reduce carbon emissions under the European Convention on Human Rights. In its judgment, the court limits the State’s freedom of choice in establishing policy on the scope of this reduction. This could have significant consequences for governments’ freedom to make climate policy and in other areas.