Wednesday December 19, 2018
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Power to the people: Dutch people sue govt for inaction on climate change and win

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Recently in a landmark judgement, the people of Netherlands who sued their government for being inactive in the matters of climate change, were handed the victory.

The ruling mandated the Dutch government to reduce its greenhouse emissions at least by 25 per cent by the year 2020.

The lawsuit was filed by the common people of Netherlands, which included not just environmental activists and lawyers, but people from all walks of life. More than 900 people had joined the cause and expressed their support.

From teachers to architects to school kids, everyone was present in the courtroom as co-plaintiffs in the hearing of the case which was filed by Urgenda, an NGO.

“This is a great victory — the judge said exactly what we wanted and had the courage and wisdom to say to the government that you have a duty of care toward your citizens,”Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda was reported as saying.

This judgment arrived after a long wait of more than a year.

The plaintiffs’ arguments were indeed justified, as they maintained that the government has a legal obligation to protect its citizens from looming dangers, including the dangers to health posed by the climate change caused by greenhouse gases.

This incident is a good example of a democratic verdict where the people’s voice remained unanimous and strong and was heard by the legal authority.

“The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment,” read a statement from the court.

The Dutch government, however, can repeal the case at a higher court. It is still unclear as to how the ruling will be imposed, as the court can only fine the government if they fail to comply with the ruling. The court hasn’t imposed such fines in the past and neither did Urgenda request this.

This verdict, which gives power to the people, can be an inspiration for the developing countries across the world who face similar issues of climate change caused by the greenhouse gas emissions.

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European Union Agrees To Cut Greenhouse Gases Emission

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday.

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Emissions
In this slow-shutter zoom effect photo taken Dec. 12, 2018, commuters backed up in traffic during the morning rush hour, in Brussels, a city that regularly experiences pollution alert warnings. VOA

The European Union agreed Monday to a goal of cutting carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in a decade, finally settling differences between vehicle-producing countries and environmentally-conscious lawmakers.

The 28-nation bloc has been divided for months over how strict to be on CO2 emissions from vehicles as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030.

Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto sector worth some 423 billion euros ($480 billion) in 2017, had warned tough targets and the drive toward more electric cars could harm its industry and cost jobs.

Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU countries finally struck a compromise Monday, after nine hours of talks, to cut emissions from cars by 37.5 percent and vans by 31 percent by 2030 compared with 2021.

Climate, emissions
– Greenpeace activists wear white morphsuits as they stage an action against particulate matter and health burden caused by diesel exhaust in Stuttgart, southern Germany. VOA

There was also agreement on an interim target of a 15 percent cut for both cars and vans by 2025.

“This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” said current EU president Austria’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger.

But Brussels-based green lobbying group Transport & Environment expressed disappointment the deal was not even more ambitious.

“Europe is shifting up a gear in the race to produce zero-emission cars. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered,” said its clean vehicles director, Greg Archer. “That’s progress, but it’s not fast enough to hit our climate goals.”

The compromise was tougher than the original EU executive proposal of an emissions decline of 30 percent compared to 2021.

Climate change, emissions, Global Warming
U.N. Climate chief Patricia Espinosa (C) is flanked by officials during a press conference at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, VOA

Germany had endorsed that, but a push by several EU countries, including the Netherlands and France, raised the target for EU countries to 35 percent. The EU Parliament had wanted 40 percent, so in the end, they split the difference.

The German automobile association (VDA) said the new legislation would set high demands while doing little to promote or provide incentives for switching to electric vehicles.

EU countries were among nearly 200 that agreed Saturday to rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord at a U.N. conference in Poland.

Also Read: Governments Have Failed to Respond Adequately to Climate Change at The U.N. Conference: Activists

“Today’s successful outcome is even more important in view of this weekend’s conclusions … in Katowice. It clearly shows, once again, our unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement,” EU Climate Commissioner Arias Canete said.

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday. (VOA)