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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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Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wines

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Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine
Climate change can have an effect on the taste of the wine. wikimedia commons

New York, Jan 3, 2018: Although winegrowers seem reluctant to try new grape varieties apparently to protect the taste of the wines, new research suggests that they will ultimately have to give up on their old habit as planting lesser-known grape varieties might help vineyards to counteract some of the effects of climate change.

vineyards. wikimedia commons

“It’s going to be very hard, given the amount of warming we’ve already committed to… for many regions to continue growing the exact varieties they’ve grown in the past,” said study co-author Elizabeth Wolkovich, Assistant Professor at Harvard University.

“With continued climate change, certain varieties in certain regions will start to fail — that’s my expectation,” she said.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that wine producers now face a choice — proactively experiment with new varieties, or risk suffering the negative consequences of climate change.

“The Old World has a huge diversity of wine grapes — there are overplanted 1,000 varieties — and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 per cent of the wine market in many countries,” Wolkovich said.

“We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change,” she added.

Unfortunately, Wolkovich said, convincing wine producers to try different grape varieties is difficult at best, and the reason often comes down to the current concept of terroir.

Terroir is the notion that a wine’s flavour is a reflection of where which and how the grapes were grown.

Thus, as currently understood, only certain traditional or existing varieties are part of each terroir, leaving little room for change.

The industry — both in the traditional winegrowing centres of Europe and around the world — faces hurdles when it comes to making changes, Wolkovich said.

In Europe, she said, growers have the advantage of tremendous diversity.

They have more than 1,000 grape varieties to choose from. Yet strict labelling laws have created restrictions on their ability to take advantage of this diversity.

For example, just three varieties of grapes can be labelled as Champagne or four for Burgundy.

Similar restrictions have been enacted in many European regions – all of which force growers to focus on a small handful of grape varieties.

“The more you are locked into what you have to grow, the less room you have to adapt to climate change,” Wolkovich said.

New World winegrowers, meanwhile, must grapple with the opposite problem — while there are few, if any, restrictions on which grape varieties may be grown in a given region, growers have little experience with the diverse — and potentially more climate change adaptable — varieties of grapes found in Europe, the study said.

Just 12 varieties account for more than 80 per cent of the grapes grown in Australian vineyards, Wolkovich said.

More than 75 per cent of all the grapes grown in China is Cabernet Sauvignon — and the chief reason why has to do with consumers.

“They have all the freedom in the world to import new varieties and think about how to make great wines from a grape variety you’ve never heard of, but they’re not doing it because the consumer hasn’t heard of it,” Wolkovich said. (IANS)

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