On 17 June 2021, the Brussels Court of First Instance ruled that the Belgian federal and regional governments failed to meet their climate obligations.
The Court found that the non-profit organisation “Klimaatzaak – Affaire Climat” and the 58,000 citizens it represents have a “direct and personal interest” in the action.
Despite Belgium’s federal structure, the Court found that the governments jointly failed to implement robust climate governance, thus breaching their duty of care. The Court also stated that the governments failed to protect the right to life and to respect private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, the Court refused to issue an injunction or sanction by referring to the “separation of powers” doctrine.
Hence, this decision is only a symbolic victory as it missed the opportunity to draw any legal or pragmatic action. The non-profit organisation has already indicated its intention to appeal the last part of the ruling before the Brussels Court of Appeal to impose a more specific obligation on the Belgian governments, such as to reduce emissions to zero by 2050.
In light of climate emergency and the delay of judicial proceedings, the organisation also intends to bring the case before the European Court of Human Rights to ensure its right to an effective remedy.
We will keep you posted and we would be happy to answer all your questions.
The decision is available in French here.