Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Dutch Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that that the Netherlands had until 2020 to reduce CO2 emissions by 25%, a ruling which was upheld in a 2019 appeal.
Canadian assistant law professor Karinne Lantz thinks that the decision of the Dutch court might impact an ongoing Canadian climate lawsuit, because Canada is a signatory to the same treaties which got the Dutch Government into trouble.
What a Dutch Supreme Court decision on climate change and human rights means for Canada
October 4, 2020 10.16pm AEDT
PhD Student and Assistant Professor (part-time), Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Late last year, the Dutch Supreme Court issued a decision that could have implications for countries around the world.
The case, The Netherlands vs. Urgenda, established that a country’s inadequate action on climate change can violate human rights. For the first time, a court imposed a legally binding target and deadline for a government to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by at least 25 per cent from 1990 levels by the end of 2020.
Urgenda was a major victory for climate justice activists, who have launched human rights lawsuits attempting to require governments to take more substantial and timely action against climate change. This landmark decision could prove influential in Canada, where similar cases will be decided.
Urgenda and Canadian climate litigation
There are now at least four pending Canadian climate cases invoking human rights, including La Rose et al vs. Canada, in which the federal government’s effort to have the lawsuit stopped before it goes to trial was argued last week.
Why could Urgenda be relevant?
In Urgenda, the court concluded climate change poses a “real and immediate” threat to the right to life, which the Netherlands has a legal obligation to address under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). While this convention is not binding in Canada, Section 7 of the charter protects the right to life. Canada is also bound by international treaties recognizing the right to life.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/what-a-dutch-supreme-court-decision-on-climate-change-and-human-rights-means-for-canada-146383
The Dutch government has no big plans to build more nuclear plants, and the timeframe is extremely short, so it seems unlikely the Dutch will meet the court imposed GHG obligation.
A recent Dutch Government attempt to reduce GHG emissions by sacrificing their Agricultural Sector ended badly for the government, after efforts to force farmers to reduce nitrate fertiliser use provoked a confrontation between farmers and the Dutch Army.
As for Canada, it seems absurd for anyone to argue that global warming poses an imminent threat to the Canadian way of life. Almost all of the Canadian population lives in a narrow habitable zone just North of the US border, because the rest of the country is too cold for most people.
But Canadian politicians have said some unwise things about climate change over the years, and signed virtue signalling international treaties with onerous provisions. Canadian politicians have nobody to blame but themselves if their grandstanding political recklessness comes back to bite them.