Appeal court judges in The Hague on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision which said the Dutch state could not be compelled to meet World Health Organisation pollution targets now, but did say the state should continue to make progress towards meeting them.
The case was brought by environmental organisation Milieudefensie, which says the state is not doing enough to reduce air pollution. In particular, the organisation claims that the state’s failure to improve air quality not only has an impact on health but breaks human rights rules.
In a reaction to Tuesday’s verdict, Milieudefensie said that the court did agree the state is not doing enough to improve the quality of the air.
‘Because we won an earlier injunction, the government had to amend its clean air plans,’ the organisation said. ‘That is why the court found the government is doing enough. But without our court case, the state would not have taken action.’
Milieudefensie claims tens of thousands of people die prematurely in the Netherlands every year because of air pollution.
Ironically, Sharon Dijksma, who was junior environment minister at the time of the first court case in September 2017, is now in charge of the environment in Amsterdam and has just announced plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles from the city by 2030.
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