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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance


Climate change litigation - Dutch Supreme Court confirms state obligation to reduce greenhouse gasses by the end of 2020

24 December 2019

On 20 December 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) confirmed that the Dutch State has a positive obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights ("ECHR") to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses ("GHG") by at least 25% by the end of 2020.

Rejecting the State's argument that it was not for the judiciary to rule on political questions, the Supreme Court affirmed the judiciary's role in determining whether political decisions were made within the limits of the law. The Court left the precise measures deemed most suitable to reduce GHG emissions to the Dutch Executive and Legislature to decide.

This case demonstrates the increasing use of litigation as a tool by climate change activists and the increasing relevance for businesses of legal developments and cases such as Urgenda which test liability for the effects of climate change around the world.

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