Legal Obligation of the State

A ruling by a court in Hague gave orders to the Dutch government to cut its emissions by atleast 25% within 5 years

In this judgement the court examined the legal obligation of the State in environmental matters.

While there was no dispute between the parties as to the need for mitigation of climate change and reduction of greenhouse gases as it is acknowledged by both the parties, the concern here was the pace at which the State needs to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The legal duty of the state under Article 21 of the Dutch Constitution which imposes a duty of care on the State relating to the liveability of the country and the protection and improvement of the living environment was examined.

The Court recognized that national authorities are best placed to make decisions on environmental issues, as these often have difficult social and technical aspects. The court said that the extent of obligations of the public authorities depends on factors such as the harmfulness of the dangerous activities and the forseeability of the risks to life.

The court concluded that the severity of the consequences of climate change and the great risk of hazardous climate change occurring without mitigating measures, gives the State an obligation of duty of care to undertake mitigation measures.