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Climate Change

Published on May 4th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Belgian Citizen Coalition Pursuing Legal Case Against Government Over Inaction On Climate Change

May 4th, 2015 by  

As a follow-up to our previous coverage on a recent lawsuit filed against the government of the Netherlands by a coalition of ~600 citizens — on account of that government’s failure to take any substantial action with regard to addressing climate change — a similar case is also in the process of coming together in the neighboring country of Belgium.

As it stands, there are currently already >10,000 citizens in Belgium that have signed up to support the case — with the intention being to force the government there to take more substantive action within the near future, rather than continue along the path that it’s been on (not doing much of anything other than symbolic gestures).

belgium activists

Here’s the exact words coming via a recent press release from Klimaatzaak (composed of “concerned citizens” in the fields of the media, business, science, and art):

Because we do not want to organize a farewell party for humanity. Because we want to safeguard the future of our children, our environment and our economy. Because our society can not continue on its current path, Klimaatzaak (Climate Case), a recently established non-profit group, has published an open letter and sent a notice to the Belgian authorities setting out its views. It is also preparing a court case to hold the government to account on its climate action commitments.

Serge de Gheldere stated: ”We are doing this because we love our country, the Belgians and our children. Consider it as a lawsuit of love. However we think that in a democratic country, when science confirms that the consequence of political choices leads to the destruction of ourselves and our environment, we need to change course. We need to never reach that point.”

Tom Lenaerts stated: “For me this isn’t a choice but an obligation towards my children.“

I’m not going to state that these sorts of actions are ineffective, but I do question exactly how effective they can actually be. Still, there’s no doubt that it’s a better choice than doing nothing. And I suppose that we’ll find out soon enough if these sorts of approaches have much merit to them.

(Tip of the hat to CleanTechnica reader Renaud Janson.)

Image: Activists in Belgium, via skyfish / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • NRG4All

    The thought occurred to me that maybe we should call climate deniers, Climatkazes.

  • Rob G

    We need to do this here in Australia. Our government continues it’s climate denial – even though it no longer says it denies the science their action certainly support their view. I think most Australians are counting on the 2016 election to oust these coal supporters. If that doesn’t happen we may need to follow the Belgians.

    • vensonata

      They will say anything that works for a day. They need to get pinned to the wall by some major players. How are these guys still in office?

  • vensonata

    When you read (without being nauseated) any right wing conservative trash talk about liberals… “libtards” as they often say, (and I am a liberal by the way, I believe the science of climate change,) they speak as if we were idiots. And you know what? We are. Now let me explain! Many of these Koch shills are just working for a living doing dirty propaganda stuff. All in a days work. They must realize and be actually embarassed at how dumb their talking points are and I am sure they are amazed at how long they have gotten away with this and how politely they are treated by us tolerant liberal/science types. The time is slipping by and we dither and hand wring, they laugh, make money and tell lies. But perhaps the only thing they fear are lawsuits with big bucks attached to the outcome. Their language is money and power. We must speak to them in their language.

    • Philip W

      You don’t believe the science of climate change, you know it’s true.
      Believing kinda implies that there is a chance it could be untrue. 🙂

      • heinbloed

        Or that incense sticks had demanded their toll ….:)
        One could stick his head into a chimney as well, getting healed by the sooth or soothed by the arsenic … Believers do these things, bel…. me …(cough)

      • vensonata

        Actually, of course I “believe” in the process of science and “I trust” the consensus of scientists. I do not “know” directly. I “presume” the scientists do know. I am “convinced” that denialists are in part, fully conscious liars. And I am “certain” that many of the right wing conservatives, actually “believe” that the climate scientists are in some kind of “conspiracy”. I am “certain” they, the conservatives, are wrong.

    • Coley

      I still find it hard to believe, in a litigation minded country like America that there is no movement towards starting a “class action” against the polluters.
      I would have thought given the billions awarded against big tobacco that law firms would be clamouring to start such actions?

  • JamesWimberley

    All the names given in the press release are Flemish, with one English-sounding exception. Do Walloons not care, or has the divorce beween the language communities gone so far that even green activists aren’t talking to each other?

    • heinbloed

      I’m not sure if I understand the question:

      The people engaged in the action of Klimaatzaak and going to court against their government are Belgian passport holders.

      And they are prominent figures, making a ‘public case’ of the court case.

      There are now 9,000 supporters who are joining the court case, I’m sure some have a French, German or English family name as well:


      Every citizen – and this is legally important – can join and sign the authorization document (in writing and signing, not electronically):


      If the battle is lost (not the war) the court costs would be split, theoretically, between the supporters.

      • heinbloed


        An interesting point is the lost case situation:

        If the court costs aren’t payed by the prominent figures from Klimaatzaak the bailiffs will come and put their hands on their cars, yachts, holiday homes …..:)
        So the climate will win anyhow. Under supervision of the tabloids.

        A political stunt which will surely attract more simple minded people to look after the environment.
        The thing is a very open case, Belgian judges had put US-gangsters like Cheney on the search warrant list before. As well as many dictators in the 3rd world.
        They can be very independant.
        If the case is won by the citizens – then only a political gimmick can save the government.
        And this the already disillusioned voters won’t take easily.

        As Ho-Chi-Min said (or was it Lao Tse ?): every lost battle prepares us for victory.

    • Frederik

      I think the reason for that is simply that this was an initiative that started in Flanders. That does not mean that Walloons don’t care. But perhaps you are right and it would have been a good idea to try and involve some Walloons in the initiative before launching it.

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