November 16, 2018 / 4:04 PM / a month ago

Dutch government appeals order to speed up climate change battle

FILE PHOTO: Birds fly past a windmill in Kinderdijk, Netherlands March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government on Friday said it would ask the country’s highest court to overturn a ruling ordering it to speed up reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Last month, an appeals court upheld a 2015 ruling ordering the government to ensure CO2-emissions are at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by the end of 2020, saying the government had not done enough to prevent the dangers of climate change.

The government said it would adhere to the ruling, but questioned whether the court was allowed to rule on its policies.

“This can have large consequences for future governments and their room for making policies on climate or any other subject,” Economy minister Eric Wiebes said in a statement.

Last year, emissions were only 13 percent lower than 1990 levels in the Netherlands, which is among the most pollutant countries in the Europe Union.

Despite its limited achievements in recent years, the government expects current plans to reduce emissions to 23 percent below the 1990 figure by the 2020 deadline.

However, uncertainty around the 2020 goals, coupled with the court ruling, could force the government to take drastic measures to reach them, including the immediate shutdown of one or more coal-fired power plants, experts have said.

In May, the Netherlands said it would ban the use of coal in electricity generation in the coming decade, shutting down two of its five coal-fired plants at the end of 2024.

Reporting by Bart Meijer. Editing by Patrick Johnston

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