Today Freerk Vermeulen pleads before the Supreme Court on behalf of Stichting Urgenda in its legal proceedings against the Dutch State to reduce its level of carbon emissions. He acts as cassation lawyer in this final phase in addition to the Höcker lawyers, who have been involved in this case since 2012. Urgenda asked for our assistance because in cassation procedures it is mandatory to work with specialised cassation lawyers.
If you want to follow the case, you can find the livestream here.
What is the Urgenda case about?
In 2013, Stichting Urgenda commenced legal proceedings against the Dutch State in order to compel the State to take adequate action to reduce its level of carbon emissions. In 2015 Urgenda won the so-called Climate case against the Dutch State. The State appealed but in 2018 the Court of Appeal in the Hague agreed with Urgenda. It ruled that the severity and scope of the climate crisis demands greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020 – measured against 1990 levels. The State appealed to the Supreme Court. Today, with the help of NautaDutilh Urgenda will argue that the State is indeed legally required to decrease its level of carbon emissions.
Why is NautaDutilh involved?
The Supreme Court is a court in third instance and rules only on matters of law. Hence, only specialised litigators are admitted to conduct proceedings before the Supreme Court. NautaDutilh took on the matter because we are convinced that if States fail to take adequate measures to prevent climate change in the political domain, then the rule of law requires courts to step in and protect the rights of their citizens. We also committed ourselves because this case is innovative and ground-breaking. It was the first in which a court held that a State breached a legal obligation towards its citizens by failing to take adequate climate action. The courts have held that not only the State has a duty of care under Dutch law but also has a human right obligation to reduce its levels of carbon emissions. The court decisions have sparked a public debate about climate change in the Netherlands and have inspired climate litigation against government throughout the world.