It’s surprising news from a country we perceive as a bastion of Euro sustainable living: An activist group, Urgenda, is threatening to take the Dutch government to court over human-rights violations perpetrated, it says, by insufficient measures to fight climate change.
The Dutch campaigners believe [human-rights] laws could be used in other countries to force the hand of governments. Marjan Minnesma, of Urgenda, and one of the leaders of the action, said: “We definitely want to give a strong example to other countries. We believe we can take this to the courts and we would like organisations in other countries to look at what we are doing and consider it for themselves.”
Their campaign is supported by the Nasa climate scientist Prof James Hansen. “In the climate and energy debate we need more pressure and involvement from the public, willing to defend our rights and those of our children and grandchildren using all the means of our laws to achieve justice,” he said.
But what about the country’s attention to infrastructure to protect cities from sea-level rises and new extreme weather? What about Amsterdam’s new $150 million investment in bicycling infrastructure? What about all those bikes!! From here, the Netherlands looks about as green as any national government might be. Over there, though, it’s another story. Activists say the country’s environmental focus has weakened over the past decade …
… with the government less willing to talk about climate change and emissions, and a greater focus on the resurgent oil and gas industries.
Minnesma said the performance of the Dutch government on climate issues in recent years had been “disappointing”. She accused ministers of failing to take a lead, especially at international climate talks and in developing renewable energy.
Urgenda has some great expectations, judging by this list of goals. Its threat may or may not motivate the Netherlands going into this month’s United Nations negotiations on climate change. Either way, from this side of the pond, we’re still looking at the Dutch enviously.