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.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Hosts 'Saving American Democracy' Town Hall

"Republicans in state after state are working to make it harder and harder to vote. We can't let them succeed."

Common Dreams staff ·


As SCOTUS Considers 'Extinguishing' Right to Abortion, Calls Mount for Congress to 'Step Up'

"Despite the protections that the legal framework like Roe provides, it has never been enough," said one doctor. "We continue to work toward reproductive justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Time to Get the Job Done': Stacey Abrams Launches New Georgia Gubernatorial Bid

"Now more than ever, it's clear Brian Kemp's days as governor are numbered."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Must Tackle Marine Plastics Pollution 'From Source to Sea': Report

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the U.S. is responsible for about a quarter of the plastics that enter the world's oceans each year.

Brett Wilkins ·


First US Omicron Case Confirmed as WHO Chief Decries Failure to Share Vaccines Globally

Factors including low vaccine coverage have created "a recipe for breeding and amplifying variants," the top health official said.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo