Research Articles

Climate Change Liability After All: A Dutch Landmark Case



In spring of 2015, the District Court of The Hague issued an injunction in a class-action suit against the Dutch State to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) before 2020 by 25 percent compared to 1990. The case was initiated by the foundation, Urgenda, and 886 individual plaintiffs against the State of the Netherlands. This is the first time a government has been held liable for a climate policy that is substandard according to international norms. Since the ruling is well reasoned—addressing the issues of the standing of Urgenda, the State’s duty of care towards its citizens, the problem of the ‘many hands’, and many other fundamental questions—it deserves close attention. It will most probably become a landmark case with international precedential value.


  • Year: 2016
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 5-30
  • DOI: 10.1163/22112596-02101001
  • Published on 24 Mar 2016
  • Peer Reviewed