Dutch government sued over poor air quality | News | DW | 02.08.2016
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Dutch government sued over poor air quality

Environmentalists in Holland have filed suit against the Dutch government over poor air quality after carrying out testing at 58 sites. The lawsuit will allow group to air its grievances over pollution in court.

A lawsuit filed Monday by the Amsterdam-based Milieudefensie group alleges "the Netherlands exceeds the legal standards for air quality and is violating fundamental human rights by doing too little to combat air pollution."

With legal papers filed at The Hague, it opens the first step in a lengthy process which could lead to a trial. The first hearing is due to be held on August 17.

"This pollution causes thousands of deaths every year, and leaves tens of thousands of people seriously ill," Milieudefensie's campaign manager Anne Knol in a statement. "That is unacceptable."

The lawsuit argues that under the Dutch constitution "the state has a duty to protect citizens from unhealthy air" and alleges that tests carried out at 58 sites last year found nitrogen dioxide levels exceeded European norms in 11 places.

Crowdfunded legal action

The lawsuit is co-signed by 57 Dutch citizens. Legal fees were raised through a crowdfunding campaign that netted around 30,000 euros ($33,593).

Marjan Minnesma Urgenda

The landmark 2015 Urgenda ruling was the first time that human rights had been successfully cited as a legal basis for protecting citizens from climate change.

The legal action by the Milieudefensie organization comes after another Amsterdam-based environmental rights group, Urgenda, won a landmark ruling ordering the government to slash greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2020.

Climate scientists hailed the June 2015 ruling as "a milestone" in a case brought by 900 Dutch citizens seeking to force a national reduction of the emissions from burning fossil fuels, blamed for global warming. That case is still under appeal.

jar/kl (AFP, Milieudefensie)

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