The EU may be forced to adopt and enforce more stringent Co2 limits on transportation and other forms of emissions following a landmark ruling in a Dutch court.
The campaign by a group called Urgenda took a legal case against the government saying that it wasn’t taking the issue of climate change seriously enough and that it was â€œknowingly contributingâ€ to breaching the proposed 2-degrees-celsius rise that is held as a target for the maximum global temperature rise.
â€œAs the verdict was being read out, I actually had tears in my eyes,â€ Roger Cox, Urgenda’s lead advocate, told the Guardian newspaper. â€œIt was an emotional moment.â€
According to the judge’s ruling on the case, â€œThe state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts. Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.â€
The Dutch cabinet said that it would examine the ruling, but that it had the same basic desire as Urgenda – to see human impact on the environment minimised and global climate change kept to a minimum.
While one might argue that The Netherlands, with its reclaimed land protective dykes, has a more vested interest in keeping climate change under control than most, the issues raised in the hearing could have wide-ranging implications. If Urgenda seeks to take its campaign to other territories, or directly to the European Commission or Court Of Human Rights (and both campaign and ruling have been heavily couched in the field of human rights) then the European Union could well have to update and more strictly enforce emissions legislation.
And at the tip of that particular sphere we find the car industry, which is still staunchly resisting calls to make Co2 limits more aggressive and also to delay the introduction of a more realistic official fuel consumption and emissions test.
Greg Archer, Vehicles Programme Manager at environmental pressure group Transport & Environment, said that, â€œVehicle CO2 standards are one of the EU’s most successful climate policies. They stimulate innovation and maintain the competitiveness of the EU automotive industry by creating a market for globally important technologies that improve fuel efficiency. They deliver substantial greenhouse gas savings at a negative societal cost; the money saved by drivers on fuel is spent in Europe stimulating local economies and creating jobs. The policy also improves energy security and balance of payments.
â€œCars are currently regulated to 2021, vans to 2020 but trucks not at all. New standards to 2025 could deliver a significant share of the cuts that will need to be made in transport to deliver the 2030 Climate and Energy goals. Cost-effective technologies to reduce emissions from conventional vehicles from an average 95g/km to 70g/km are available and are anticipated to pay back in lower fuel bills within three years. Smartly designed regulations can also drive plug-in vehicles to become the market-stimulating choice for car-buyers. 2025 vehicle CO2 standards are a win-win solution and should be proposed by the Commission as part of a package of emissions reductions with the Effort Sharing Decision in mid-2016.