MPs back investigation into court-based climate activism


Cabinet parties VVD and CDA have again joined forces with the far right to back a motion calling for an ‘investigation’ into the way interest groups and private citizens are forcing the government to take action through the courts.

Court victories for citizens’ initiatives such as Urgenda and Mobilisation for the Environment (MOB) have been instrumental in making the government do more to combat climate change. However, some argue that policy is being made in court rather than in parliament and that this should stop.

A motion by the fundamentalist Christian SGP calling for legal action by citizens to be investigated was backed by a majority of MPs on Tuesday, and the support from the ruling VVD and CDA was decisive in the vote.

SGP parliamentarian Chris Stoffer said during the debate that organisations like Urgenda and MOB are not acting in the general interest but in favour of a much smaller, specific interest. The courts should, he said, measure if such groups are ‘independent’ enough to take legal action against the state.

‘Climate policy is an issue for politicians, not the courts,’ Stoffer said.


The Urgenda case resulted in the government bringing in tougher measures to combat CO2 emissions, while the Mob has focused on reducing nitrogen-based pollution.

D66 MP Joost Sneller (D66) said he was shocked that the two coalition parties had sided with the opposition. ‘It is a worrying move because access to the law is currently open to everyone and all organisations, and that may now be limited.’

Environmental organisations which have gone to court are only trying to make sure the government obeys its own laws, he said.

UN agreement

Urgenda founder Marjan Minnesma told Trouw she is not concerned about the motion, pointing out it is purely ‘a request for an investigation’.

‘Our specific interest is ensuring the earth’s survival and that would seem to me to be a perfect example of the general interest,’ she said. ‘We did not come up with our aim ourselves. It is set down in the UN climate agreement and has been both recognised and signed by our government.’

The VVD and CDA earlier sided with the far right on a motion to explore signing deals with foreign countries to house and process refugee claims.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation