Court will decide on September 7 about air pollution demand

Traffic is a major source of inner city pollution. Photo:

Judges in The Hague will decide on September 7 if the Dutch state needs to do more to reduce air pollution, in a case brought by environmental group Milieudefensie.

The organisation’s lawyer Phon van den Biesen told the court that tens of thousands of people die prematurely in the Netherlands every year because of air pollution. In addition, the Netherlands is breaking EU guidelines, he said.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are all in the top 12 of most polluted European cities and last year air quality deteriorated further, the organisation claims.

The government’s lawyer told the court that air quality has improved considerably over the past 40 years and that while the Netherlands does not meet all international targets, it is doing considerably better than Milieudefensie says.

Similar claims have also been made before the courts in Germany and Britain. In the Netherlands in 2015, a citizens initiative known as Urgenda won its case to force the government to take more steps to reduce greenhouse gases.