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In historic ruling, Dutch court orders nation to cut emissions

Climate protest in the Netherlands.
A climate activist holding a placard in front of the Supreme Court in the Netherlands, where demonstration is restricted. People from several climate organizations gathered with eyes painted on their hands symbolising 'We are watching you.' Photo: Barcroft Media / Contributor/Getty Images

The Supreme Court in the Netherlands on Friday ordered the government there to cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the end of 2020.

Why it matters: This is the first time the courts have ever forced a country to address climate change and could set a precedent for courts in other nations, including the United States, in the absence of other action.

What they're saying: Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, per The New York Times said: “There have been 1,442 climate lawsuits around the world. This is the strongest decision ever. The Dutch Supreme Court upheld the first court order anywhere directing a country to slash its greenhouse gas emissions.”

One level deeper: The ruling was a success for environmental group Urgenda, "which filed the lawsuit in 2013 against the Dutch government with nearly 900 co-plaintiffs," NYT reports.

Go deeper on U.S. climate cases: Why the hottest global warming battle is in the courtroom.