Climate campaigners in Brussels came out on top last Thursday in court against the Belgian government in another victory that demonstrates how, when it comes to climate policies, the people can overturn the presiding authority of their countries.
The campaigners claimed that Belgium’s climate policy breaches the country’s duty of care and human rights obligations because it doesn’t act fast enough to adequately address the detrimental effects of climate change.
The verdict comes after a six-year battle that was first set in motion by non-profit group Klimaatzaak (‘Climate Case’) that represented over 58,000 citizens.
According to the campaigners, the Belgian government failed to take the necessary measures to protect their people from the adverse effects of the human-induced climate crisis, and by doing so have breached the right to life (article 2) and the right to respect for private and family life (article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Klimaatzaak explains their legal action by referencing a 2019 ruling from the Supreme Court of the Netherlands:
“This lawsuit is necessary because temperature records continue to be broken because flooding is becoming more frequent… but above all because there is no real Belgian climate policy. We’ve seen in the Netherlands that this can be enforced via legal action: the Dutch climate organization Urgenda won a similar case that has led to an ambitious climate law.”
The campaigners fought for the Brussels court to put forth specific emissions reduction targets: at least 42 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2025 and at least 55 percent compared to 1990 by 2030, with zero net emissions reached in 2050. While the judge did not authorize those demands, the court did agree that the current climate policy violates the legal duty of care and human rights.