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Environment

Ignace Schops, Netherlands

Suing the government to tackle climate change.

Suing your own government to tackle climate change? That sounds kind of crazy at first. But that is exactly what activists in the Netherlands and Belgium are doing.

And Ignace Schops, director of the environmental nongovernmental organization RLKM and recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize (the "green Nobel Prize") is one of them.

He rounded up a group of creative people - including artists, filmmakers and even rock stars. Inspired by a landmark court case in the Netherlands, where an organization successfully sued the Dutch government on behalf of 900 citizens to cut greenhouse emissions, Schops and his creative partners decided to do the same in Belgium.

They are now suing the Belgium parliament to cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 percent by 2020, and 87 percent by 2050.

Listen to audio 07:22

Climate hero Ignace Schops leads the charge in Climate Case Belgium

As Schops sees it, big changes in the world such as the anti-asbestos and anti-smoking movements - along with suffrage for women - all started with a court case.

"We are doing this court case out of love for the planet," Schops says. "We want to have sustainable and systemic change."

The team is tapping crowd-funded campaigns to finance the lawyers and court fees, and is circulating an online petition. The case will go on until at least summer 2016 before any initial decision is made.

Schops is optimistic that the case will improve the governments climate action - listen to the interview above to find out why.

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