Roger Cox

The Dutch Climate Case: Suing the Government

Date:November 2015

Roger Cox, who practices law in Maastricht, Holland, the author of Revolution Justified: Why Only the Law Can Save Us Now. The book inspired the Urgenda Foundation to sue the Dutch government for its inaction on climate change. Roger Cox acted for Urgenda – and won.

Roger Cox is the Dutch lawyer who initiated the successful, historic suit brought against the Dutch government known as the Dutch Climate Case. In this exclusive Green Interview, Cox discusses the details of the case, how the impending oil decline threatens human rights, and his 2011 book, Revolution Justified: Why Only the Law Can Save us Now.

The Dutch Climate Case

The Dutch Climate Case was a class action lawsuit initiated by Roger Cox on behalf of the Urgenda Foundation and 900 Dutch citizens. Using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) they argued the urgency of climate change and that the Dutch government should ramp up its climate action. In 2015, after two and half years of litigation, Cox and his team won a landmark ruling requiring the government to cut GHG emissions more dramatically than it had intended. The court ruled that the Dutch government had a duty of care to its citizens and must cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 per cent (up from 20 per cent) of that country’s 1990 emissions levels by 2020. It’s the first time a judge has legally required a state to take precautions against climate change and it could be used to support other climate cases around the world. The Dutch government is appealing the case.

Oil Decline and Human Rights

In his conversation with Silver Donald Cameron, Cox discusses how the decline of oil has the potential to “unleash a complete breakdown of western society economically, socially and politically.” He says, as oil reserves start to dry up, the mobility of basic necessities such as food, would also be affected, which could lead to shortages affecting our basic human right to a comfortable and secure life. Cox says that unless we replace our current oil-dependent systems with an alternative fuel, basic human rights will be compromised, societies will become impoverished, and there will be an escalation of climate-related refugee crises. Cox argues that the threat of human rights violations puts the judiciary in a position to step in and lead Western governments out of the dangerous deadlock.

Revolution Justified

In 2011 Cox published Revolution Justified: Why Only the Law Can Save us Now, a book about climate change and the stalemate or deadlock around this issue. The book calls for judicial intervention to save the planet and humanity from dangerous climate change. In his opinion governments have become a danger to the wellbeing of society due to their inaction to regulate greenhouse gases. “Our best hope of averting dangerous climate change and breaking the status quo in the energy world is the law,” he says.

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