(Updates with government statement, Urgenda reaction)
The Dutch government plans to appeal a district court ruling ordering it to set a deeper 2020 emission reduction goal but at the same time is prepared to take additional measures, it said on Tuesday.
In a statement on the environment ministry website, the government said it will file an appeal with a higher court over the way in which the district court defined its “duty of care” towards citizens.
But the government added that it will begin implementing the ruling immediately and will conduct a review to decide which additional measures would be most effective in the short term, including drawing on the results of an inter-ministerial study due to be completed by the end of the year.
The review and policy recommendations will be completed by the first half of 2016, it added.
On July 24, a Dutch district court in The Hague ruled the government needed to cut emissions 25% under 1990 levels by 2020, up from the current projection of a 14-17% reduction. It is the first time a state has been held responsible for climate change action under human rights law.
It was seen as a landmark verdict brought by citizen campaign group Urgenda that could lead the country to buy more UN carbon credits and lead to similar lawsuits across the industrialised world.
The ruling said the norm for developed countries was a 25-40% emission reduction by 2020, a level that few industrialised nations are on course to meet.
Urgenda director Maran Minnesma welcomed the decision but said moving to a 25% reduction would be an absolute minimum and Urgenda would be pushing the government to go further, she told radio station BNR.
She said she expected the Dutch parliament to debate the issue when it resumes later this month.
Separately, the Dutch government on Tuesday announced that the country’s overall GHG emissions fell by 5% in 2014 to 187 million tonnes of CO2e, which included CO2 emissions of 158 million tonnes.
The government said country’s GHG output is at its lowest in 25 years, and represents a 15% cut from 1990 levels.
It said last year’s decline resulted in part from less natural gas consumption by households on the back of warmer weather, adding average temperatures in the country were the highest since 1706.
But emissions from Dutch-based utilities rose by 2 million tonnes last year, as many opted to generate more coal-based power than gas.
Between 2010 and 2014, the share of natural gas in the Netherlands’ electricity mix declined to 48% from 62%, while the share of coal increased to 29% from 19%, the government added.
However, the rise in 2014 utility emissions was offset by lower output from the road transport sector, where electricity- and natural gas-powered vehicles are increasingly displacing those running on gasoline and diesel.
By Ben Garside and Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org