netherlands: tackling climate injustice and world bank funding for fossil fuels
To address these issues, Friends of the Earth Netherlands carried out two main strands of activities in 2007. First, they continued work to highlight the connection between climate change and international financial institutions. Second, they tackled climate injustice by scoping out potential avenues for climate litigation.
what happened: In their bid to get “IFIs and climate change” higher on the agenda, FoE Netherlands sent a letter to the Dutch Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, calling on Parliamentarians to withdraw support for the World Bank’s energy policy. They pointed out that the Bank’s continued focus on fossil fuel development contradicts its new framework for renewable energy and development. They also distributed the report “Energy for Poverty Reduction” amongst key Dutch decision makers.
At the May 2007 Dutch Social Forum, they held a public workshop on climate change for development organizations which was attended by about 45 people; this was followed by a closed workshop to allow these organizations to further discuss these issues.
FoE Netherlands also took part in the Hearing on the World Bank organized by Friends of the Earth International and Eurodad. They carried out media work on the hearing in the Netherlands and funded one of its speakers. Finally, they provided financial report for the FoEI report “Voices from Communities Affected by Climate Change,” and distributed it in the Netherlands.
To tackle the issue of climate justice, the group commissioned research on climate litigation, to examine existing cases as well as possible new avenues of litigation. The Amsterdam Law Clinic looked into existing climate change litigation, while a Dutch law professor scoped out new cases to strengthen the group's campaign and consulting capacity. In addition, AidEnvironment also carried out a scoping exercise to find people already suffering from climate change impacts.
what is changing: In terms of climate justice, FoE Nethlerlands found that it is possible to make a case against Dutch banks which invest in large, polluting Dutch companies through a prohibition act. This strategy would avoid many of the legal complications that arise from the fact that the defendant is only partly responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, and that climate change does commence immediately after the emissions are released. Instead, a prohibition act allows one to argue that, because damage will result from greenhouse gas emissions, any additional pollution will exacerbate this damage; thus these emissions must be halted.
The group identified two potential cases: one in Kenya, where climate change is clearly implicated in rising malaria incidence (although deforestation also plays a part); and a second possible case in Peru, where rapid glacier melt is underway due to climate change. However, in the case of Peru the implications of this impact for individuals are not as clear, making the search for plaintiffs more challenging.
what we learned: In terms of their climate justice work, FoE Netherlands learned that the civil procedures we envisioned would take much time, and would require further resources to identify victims. They concluded that FoE Netherlands has insufficient resources at this time. To allow the movement to nonetheless make the most of our research, they decided to share our results widely with the NGO network, and make them available in report form (“Climate Litigation: Analyses of Issues to be Addressed: Climate Change Litigation Cases”) on their website. They also urged the report co-authors to use the research where possible.
with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs