Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"our future in your hands"

Youth protest during 7th Brussels youth climate march on February 21, 2019 in Brussels. (Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

'Historic': Belgium Court Says Inadequate Climate Policy a Human Rights Violation

Climate campaigners welcomed the ruling as a victory.

Andrea Germanos

Climate campaigners claimed a "historic victory" after a Brussels court on Thursday condemned Belgium for its climate policy that breaches the country's duty of care and human rights obligations.

The verdict from the Court of First Instance followed a six-year legal battle first launched by non-profit group Klimaatzaak (Climate Case) representing over 58,000 citizens.

According to the Guardian: "By not taking all 'necessary measures' to prevent the 'detrimental' effects of climate change, the court said, Belgian authorities had breached the right to life (article 2) and the right to respect for private and family life (article 8)" of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The federal government and those of three regions—the Brussels-Capital, the Flemish, and the Walloon regions—had "not behaved as generally prudent and diligent authorities, which constitutes an offense," reported Agence France-Presse.

In an explanation of the legal action on its website, Klimaatzaak references a 2019 ruling from the Supreme Court of the Netherlands:

This lawsuit is necessary because temperature records continue to be broken, because flooding is becoming more frequent… but above all because there is no real Belgian climate policy. We've seen in the Netherlands that this can be enforced via legal action: the Dutch climate organization Urgenda won a similar case that has led to an ambitious climate law.

The climate group had sought from the Brussels court specific emissions reduction targets: at least 42% compared to 1990 levels by 2025 and at least 55% compared to 1990 by 2030, with zero net emissions reached in 2050. The judge did not authorize those demands, however, citing separation of powers.

Greenpeace Belgium called the court's verdict "a clear condemnation of our country's climate policy" and urged all ministers to "get to work." 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·


Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·


10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·


Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·


Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of SummitjessicaDec 5, 2022
red panda
"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.
Common Dreams Logo