Netherlands court case win inspires climate campaigners

WEEKLY WRAP: All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics

Judge delivers verdict in Urgenda case against Dutch government (Screenshot/Urgenda livestream)

Judge delivers verdict in Urgenda case against Dutch government (Screenshot/Urgenda livestream)

By Megan Darby

It’s not every day a district judge gets cheered and clapped. But there was jubilation in one courtroom on Wednesday.

The case was climate campaign group Urgenda against the Dutch government. The verdict: Netherlands must cut its carbon emissions faster, in line with the science.

It was the first time judges ordered a national government to up its climate game, but it may not be the last.

“The legal arguments that we used in the case – and that the court acknowledged exist – are not unique to the Netherlands,” legal advisor Dennis van Berkel told RTCC. “All states have this legal obligation.”

Under the ruling, the Netherlands must cut emissions 25% on 1990 levels by 2020, instead of its planned 17% reduction.

In practice, Carbon Pulse reports, the Dutch government could meet the tighter target by buying international carbon credits worth €5 million at today’s prices.

“But the move may be questioned by citizens eager to see structural changes to cut the country’s use of fossil fuels,” the newswire noted.

STAT: US$3.7 trillion will be invested in solar power in the next 25 years, Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts – but coal is still undermining emissions goals

Brussels bubble

Alex Pashley has been on a journey to the heart of EU policymaking and returned with some nuggets for you.

Carbon capture and storage, carbon markets and a long term emissions goal will be on the agenda when top Chinese officials visit next Monday, climate and energy chief Miguel Arias Canete revealed.

And Brussels is spearheading a summit in Morocco this October to assess how national climate plans measure up against the goal to limit warming to 2C. But how many countries will show up?

QUOTE: “If we get it right, our environmental policy will make us world leaders on this issue instead of giving us a black eye around the world” – Alberta environment minister Shannon Phillips

Coal v coral: a zero score draw?

Adani’s $16 billion coal venture in Australia is hanging in the balance, as low coal prices and slow regulatory approvals hit the business case.

The Indian conglomerate has halted engineering works, it emerged this week, prompting speculation it could shelve the whole project.

That would come as a relief to campaigners concerned about its impacts on the climate and the Great Barrier Reef.

But it is not enough on its own to protect the delicate coral ecosystem from warming oceans, overfishing and pollution.

Environmental lawyers argue the reef – a world heritage site – should be put on Unesco’s endangered list at a committee meeting next week.

In a rare bit of good news for coral, scientists have found relocating larvae from warm to cooler seas can boost survival rates.

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US-Brazil meet

Ending destruction of the Amazon will be a hot topic when president Dilma Rousseff visits Barack Obama in Washington next Tuesday.

Forest experts say deforestation could be ended by 2025, but 2030 is a more likely target in Brazil’s climate contribution.

That might not be announced next week, but a proposed end to the US ban on Brazilian beef imports gives an opportunity to demand stricter protections.

Climate fragility…

…should be a foreign policy priority, according to a report commissioned by the G7.

At its London launch, experts cited Syria’s slide into bitter conflict, triggered by a five-year drought, as an example of the destabilising effect of climate impacts.

They made the case for cooperation and planning for weather extremes to keep the world stable.

Health warning

Prestigious medical journal the Lancet has thrown its considerable weight behind calls to stop burning coal.

Its panel of international experts warned climate change could set back health gains 50 years if unchecked.

Coal is doubly dangerous, they said, as it spews out a cocktail of harmful air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases.

Bluffer’s guide

And finally, with less than six months to go to the Paris climate summit, Ed King covers everything you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask. Read his bluffer’s guide.

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