Belgium, Flanders and Brussels condemned for inadequate climate policy
The Brussels Court of Appeal on Thursday condemned the Belgian State, the Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region for not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Walloon Region, meanwhile, is not at fault.
The non-profit organisation Klimaatzaak, along with 58,586 co-plaintiffs, went to court in 2015 to force the Belgian authorities to honour their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The French-speaking Court of First Instance in Brussels ruled in June 2021 that the Belgian authorities had been negligent in their climate policy and that Belgian environmental policy violated the legal duty of care and human rights.
"Thanks to this clear court ruling, all governments must now get to work."
However, the court did not impose any greenhouse gas reduction measures on the Belgian state and regions, prompting the non-profit organisation to appeal the decision. The Brussels Court of Appeal has now ruled that the Belgian State, the Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region are indeed at fault. The Walloon Region is not at fault, thanks to its results in 2020 and the efforts it has already made for the future, according to the court.
55 per cent
The court orders the three governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990. It has not yet ruled on the fine of one million euros per month demanded by Klimaatzaak. The court is waiting for figures on greenhouse gas emissions from 2022 to 2024 before making a decision.
"This verdict marks a new phase in the fight against the climate crisis in our country," said Greenpeace Belgium spokesman Joeri Thijs. "Thanks to this clear court ruling, all governments must now get to work. Because everyone benefits from an ambitious and fair climate policy".
The ruling can still be appealed in cassation.
Climate litigation is becoming one of activists's most powerful tools. The total number of court cases focused on climate action has more than doubled since 2017 and is still growling, according to a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The UN reports a total 2,180 cases in 65 jurisdictions in 2023.
#FlandersNewsService | A protest action by Klimaatzaak in 2021. © BELGA PHOTO OLIVIER SCHEIR