Sian Crampsie

Campaigners in the Netherlands have won a legal bid to force the government to act on climate change.

In a landmark ruling that environmentalists hope will set a precedent for other countries, a Dutch court ruled that the government should take more action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Netherlands, and that the state should ensure that emissions in 2020 should be at least 25 per cent lower than those in 1990.

The case was brought by sustainability group Urgenda, which argued that the Netherlands government had not gone far enough in reducing emissions and protecting citizens from the impacts of climate change. Similar cases are pending in Belgium and the Philippines, according to Greenpeace.

Urgenda said that the ruling made it "crystal clear that climate change is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with". It added that people in other countries would be able to launch their own legal cases "with our verdict in their hands".

Urgenda brought the action on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens.

Juliet Davenport of UK-based renewable energy firm Good Energy said: "This group of citizens in the Netherlands were not prepared to sit back and wait for politician’s to decide their future. I think they represent millions of people around the world whose voices on climate change are not being listened to.

"If we’re going to avoid catastrophic global warming, this landmark moment shows that it’s ordinary people who will force it to happen."