Everyone “talks the talk” about taking action to stop global warming and the destruction of our planet. And some gains have been made, here and there. But coordinated action on the parts of every major government has not happened, for any number of the usual reasons. Here’s a legal action that may carry sufficient weight to force needed change. I’ll add comments afterwards.
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‘A Win for the Planet!’:
Dutch Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling Mandating Climate Action
December 20, 2019
The nonprofit that brought the case called it “a groundbreaking decision that confirms that individual governments must do their fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Advocates for climate action celebrated Friday after the Supreme Court of the Netherlands upheld a landmark ruling that found the Dutch government is obligated under international human rights law to more ambitiously reduce greenhouse gas emissions that drive global heating.
The case was initially launched in 2013 by the nonprofit Urgenda Foundation on behalf of hundreds of Dutch citizens and has been repeatedly appealed. An Urgenda spokesperson said after the ruling:
“Today, at a moment when people around
the world are in need of real hope that
governments will act with urgency to
address the climate crisis, the Dutch
Supreme Court has delivered a ground-
breaking decision that confirms that in-
dividual governments must do their fair
share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The court ruled that the Dutch government must cut emissions by at least 25% compared with 1990 levels by the end of 2020 …
“because of the risk of a dangerous
climate change that can also seriously
affect the residents of the Netherlands
in their right to life and well-being,”
… according to a translation from BuzzFeed News.
Tessa Kahn, co-director of the Climate Litigation Network, took to Twitter to highlight former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson’s reaction to the ruling:
The ruling is “a victory for the climate, for our planet, and for future generations,” declared Greenpeace International general counsel Jasper Teulings, who welcomed the news in a tweet. “Now let’s put this in action.”
Urgenda’s win “could inspire people worldwide to hold governments legally accountable for #ClimateChange,” the Greenpeace International account said on Twitter.
“This puts all laggard governments on
notice: act now or see you in court.”
Reporting on the news out of the Netherlands Friday, Forbes pointed out that “inspired by the success of Urgenda’s case, other organizations brought their representatives to court. Similar legal initiatives are taking place in several countries, including Belgium, Canada, Pakistan, and the United States.”
Meanwhile—as the environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Europe noted Friday—Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands is suing fossil fuel giant Royal Dutch Shell for its contributions to the global climate crisis.
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On the surface, this ruling by a Supreme Court suggests that serious, major, widespread action will be taken. And I recall something in the U.S. Constitution that says something like its citizens being entitled to the “right to life and well-being.” However …
You might note that the ruling was made over a year-and-a-half ago! “Looking and hoping” that our governments will take rapid corrective action may be futile … and frustrating! The organizations whose actions caused the problem have political action committees, which will do what they can to ensure “business as usual.”
The question for me, then, comes back to a quote I saw on one of the climate marches …
“The greatest threat to our planet is
the belief that someone else will save it.”
I try to focus these blogs on actions that individual readers can take to make a positive difference. It goes back to a policy I was taught at age eight, when I went on my first canoe trip:
Always leave the campsite better
than it was when you got there.
Well, Planet Earth is our campsite. In fact, it’s our home. I recall recently reading an interesting analogy that the mythical “Garden of Eden” is real … that it’s actually our planet. Having been to all seven continents, when you experience the diversity of beauty and resources it offers, it truly is a rich Garden of Eden.
In terms of corrective action, I asked D, the entity my wife channels, for suggestions:
“Each individual reading this already knows
of something he or she can do to help the
planet. It can be for something as simple
as regularly recycling or for something
like purchasing an electric car and get-
ting rid of your gasoline vehicle. Each
of you knows what is possible for you
to make the world a tiny bit better.
“Take a step, even if it’s a baby step.
Then take the next step. Steps add
up far faster than you can imagine.
But do something. Action, not
words, will make the difference.”