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Saving the Climate through Court, Amsterdam

datum 23 september 2019 20:00
plaats Amsterdam
locatie Pakhuis De Zwijger Toon locatie
zaal grote zaal
aanwezigen (Marie) Toussaint e.a.
organisatie Pakhuis De Zwijger

Unbearable droughts in India, Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted and water shortages during the summer of 2018, even here in the Netherlands. Worldwide, the drastic effects of climate change are becoming more visible than ever. Four years after the 2015 Paris Agreement, under which 194 countries and the EU committed to limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, our global leaders are failing to take the measures needed to turn the tide. Worldwide, people are filing international climate lawsuits against governments and private companies for taking insufficient action to tackle climate change. When (international) policy fails, can court prevail? Tonight, we will discuss the role of law in the fight against climate change through exemplary cases worldwide.

Met in dit programma onder anderen

Roda Verheyen

Environmental and international law lawyer

Marie Toussaint

President of Notre Affaire à Tous (In Our Common Interest)

Sam Hunter Jones

Environmental lawyer, ClientEarth

Daphina Misiedjan

Onderzoeker Utrecht Center for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UU) en docent Haagse Hogeschool

Dennis van Berkel

Klimaatjurist bij Urgenda

Nine de Pater

Campaigner Climate & Energy Miliedefensie

The past years have seen a surge in legislation of this sort: in the Netherlands, judges recently ordered the state to do more to protect the climate in the historic Urgenda case. In France, a group of NGOs, including Greenpeace and Oxfam, launched a lawsuit against the French state, accusing it of taking insufficient action to tackle climate change. In fact, not only governments are being sued. Private companies are also taken to court in order to hold them accountable for the consequences of global warming. How did this global civil movement for climate justice evolve and where will it go next? After governments and companies, which other actors will be held accountable for climate change through court?


One of the leading examples of such cases at the moment is the suing of oil company Shell by Milieudefensie, forcing the oil company to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero in 2050 by winding down its oil and gas activities, as only then global warming can be limited to 1,5 degrees.

Roda Verheyen

Another high-profile case is the one lead by lawyer Roda Verheyen, who is representing Peruvian farmer Saúl Luciano Lliuya, suing German coal giant RWE for the damages done to Saúl’s hometown in the Andes as a result of a melting glacier. Verheyen is also known for, among other things, representing 10 families from across Europe in a lawsuit against the European institutions, regarding the threats climate change pose to their homes and livelihoods.

Marie Toussaint

In 2015, Marie Toussaint founded Notre affaire à tous (in our common interest), an NGO to defend the right for climate justice. Together with, amongst others, Oxfam France, Greenpeace France and the Foundation for Nature and Man, they started a climate justice campaign in France to sue the state for its inaction in the fight against global warming. The associated petition became the most signed petition in France in less than a week, collecting 2 million signatories in a month.

Dennis van Berkel

The Urgenda Foundation case against the state of the Netherlands was the first of its kind. It successfully argued for the adoption of stricter emissions reduction targets by the government. It’s a landmark case which, since the initial decision in favor of Urgenda in 2015, has encouraged people from all over the world to take climate injustice to court. Dennis van Berkel is a climate change advocate who works on the Dutch Climate Case, together with 900 Dutch citizens.

Daphina Misiedjan

How do we distribute water in a fair and sustainable way? Does nature also have the right to water? Professor Daphina Misiedjan specializes in issues concerning human rights (in particular economic, social and cultural rights) and the environment.

Sam Hunter Jones

Sam Hunter Jones is a lawyer who works with ClientEarth, an NGO that uses the law to protect the planet. After working as a commercial disputes lawyer at Freshfields, he joined ClientEarth to work on strategic litigation aimed at driving the transition to a low carbon economy and mitigating the damage caused by climate change.

Lees meer

Peruvian farmer sues German energy giant for contributing to climate change

Saul Luciano Lliuya wants damages from RWE to protect hometown of Huaraz from a swollen glacier lake at risk of overflowing from melting snow and ice.

Governments and firms in 28 countries sued over climate crisis - report

More than 1,300 legal actions over global heating brought since 1990, say researchers


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