Climate Case wins on appeal too!
Climate Case won! You won! We won, all together!
On 30 November 2023, our country wrote history. That day, the Brussels Court of Appeal definitively drew a line under the negligent climate policy of the Belgian state and de Flemish and Brussels regions. And ordered them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. This is HUGE!
Please find the machinetranslated English verdict on this link.
Why is this lawsuit necessary?
This lawsuit is necessary because temperature records continue to be broken, because flooding is becoming more frequent… but above all because there is no real Belgian climate policy. We’ve seen in the Netherlands that this can be enforced via legal action: the Dutch climate organisation Urgenda won a similar case that has led to an ambitious climate law.
December 1, 2014
Climate Case sends formal notice to the four Belgian authorities
Non-profit Climate Case formally declares the four responsible governments (the regions and the federal state) to be in breach of their climate obligations. Climate Case calls on the governments to fulfill their responsibilities – to reduce Belgium’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
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March 1, 2015
Consensus with ministers seems impossible
Climate Case is invited by federal minister Marie-Christine Marghem to sit round the table with the four relevant ministers. It seems impossible to reach a consensus.
April 27, 2015
Climate Case subpoenas the four Belgian governments
Climate Case summons the governments to appear in court.
June 2, 2015
The legal proceedings begin
The subpoena is served on the four responsible ministers. This represents the start of legal proceedings. The competent court is the French-language court of first instance in Brussels. As one of the defendants – the Walloon Region – is based outside Brussels, the language laws mean the case must also be heard in French.
June 11, 2015
Flemish Region requests language change
During the introductory hearing, the Flemish Region requests the language of proceedings to be changed to Dutch. If that is not possible, the region wants proceedings to be divided. That would entail two separate proceedings: one in Dutch and one in French. Besides doubling the cost, there would also be a considerable risk of two different judgements being handed down.
September 25, 2015
Language change not granted
The French-language court of first instance denies the Flemish Region’s request.
October 23, 2015
Flemish Region appeals to district court
The Flemish Region doesn’t accept the decision and appeals it in the district court, a court of law with Dutch- and French-speaking judges. They consider whether the language law was violated by the French-speaking judge in the court of first instance in Brussels.
February 8, 2016
Confirmation of original judgement
The district court upholds the original judgement and the language of proceedings will remain French. Moreover, it will be heard as a single case.
April 24, 2016
Joke Schauvliege lodges an appeal
Flemish minister Joke Schauvliege tells the Environmental Commission that she will be appealing. She wants to overturn the district court’s decision via the Court of Cassation.
January 12, 2018
Court of Cassation postpones verdict
The Court of Cassation, which previously announced it would rule on Climate Case, unexpectedly postpones its verdict until 2 March.
March 2, 2018
Cassation judgement postponed again
The judgement is again postponed at the hearing, until 20 April. The court has therefore taken almost eight months longer than average to reach a decision. In April 2018, it will be two years since Joke Schauvliege lodged her appeal.
April 20, 2018
Court of Cassation rejects Joke Schauvliege’s appeal
The Court of Cassation rejects the appeal by Joke Schauvliege and thereby confirms the judgement of the district court of 8 February 2016. The language issue is now definitely resolved and we can begin the proceedings that ultimately affect us all: the actual Climate Case.
February 1, 2019
Climate case receives main conclusions from governments
The main conclusions are the first and most important response of governments to our summons. The discussion will now build on this. In their conclusions, the authorities try to refute the inadequacy of the Belgian climate policy. We will argue that, among other things, science contradicts this.
May 3, 2019
Request for voluntary intervention protected trees
On the initiative of the movement for social-ecological change Aardewerk, the counsellors Hendrik Schoukens and Gwijde Vermeire submitted a request for voluntary intervention in the name of 82 protected trees, in which they joined the demand of Climate Case. The intervention advocated legal standing for nature. This too is a scoop in Belgium.
June 28, 2019
Filing of main conclusions Climate case
Our principle argument is that we want the competent authorities to be condemned for failing to act on climate policy. In our main conclusions, we are demanding a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on Belgian territory of at least 42 to 48% in 2025 and at least 55 to 65% in 2030, each time compared to the base year of 1990. In 2050, we must continue to move towards zero net emissions. Indeed, science agrees that these reduction percentages are necessary to prevent dangerous global warming of +1.5°C. Given the importance and urgency of the matter at hand, we are asking for a penalty payment of EUR 1 million for every month of delay in enforcing the judgment.
October 1, 2019
Climate case receives additional conclusions from governments
With their additional conclusions, the governments respond to our main conclusions laid down in June. We can share with you the additional conclusions of the Brussels-Capital and Walloon Regions. Unfortunately, the federal and Flemish ministers maintain their objection to the publication of their arguments.
December 16, 2019
Climate case lays down its final conclusions
In our final synthesis conclusions, we argue that the inadequate climate policy pursued by the Belgian authorities constitutes a violation both of the standard of care and of human and children's rights. A warming of more than 1.5°C is dangerous, which is precisely why the international community and Belgium have decided that we must stay below that level. But the Belgian authorities fall short in this respect. What's more, our climate policy threatens to sink further and further into the rearguard internationally.
Our summary conclusions only exist in Dutch and French, but we have provided an English summary of our main arguments.
March 16, 2020
Climate case receives main conclusions from governments
They are anything but reassuring. Click here for our reaction to the synthesis conclusions (in French).
The submission of the final conclusions of the authorities was the final step in the written phase of the court case. This will be followed by oral pleadings, which will take place in the French-speaking court of first instance in Brussels.
We can share with you the final conclusions of the Brussels-Capital and Walloon Regions. Unfortunately, the federal and Flemish ministers maintain their objection to the publication of their arguments.
September 4, 2020
Setting of pleading dates
The long-awaited plea dates have finally been set. The climate case will be heard in court from 16 to 26 March 2021. Time for action!
March 14, 2021
All of Belgium Lawyer for the Climate
Belgium is filled with Climate Case sympathisers. In more than 100 municipalities and cities across the country, an estimated 7,000 'climate advocates' took to the streets to show their support for our cause. It resulted in beautiful images from all over the country. Watch the compilation video >
March 16, 2021
Nine days of pleadings in front of the Brussels Court of First Instance
June 17, 2021
Judge agrees with Climate Case, but does not impose concrete targets
The Court of First Instance of Brussels has collectively condemned the Belgian authorities for their negligent climate policy. The judges ruled that the Belgian climate policy is so substandard that it violates the legal duty of care and human rights.
November 17, 2021
Climate case proceeds to appeal
In the months following the verdict, there was no indication that our authorities are taking the verdict seriously. In the meantime, our country has known 41 climate deaths and scientists predict that the suffering will only increase, also in Belgium. Climate Case is therefore appealing, to protect the human rights of the 58,000 co-plaintiffs of Climate Case and all other citizens of this country. We go to court again, asking for binding emission reduction targets to be imposed on governments, obliging them to do their part to prevent dangerous global warming.
April 5, 2022
Belgian State has to answer for its climate policy in court again sooner than expected
The Brussels Court of Appeal has decided to give priority to the Climate Case. After a written conclusion round that will take sixteen months, the Climate Case will be heard from 14 September to 6 October 2023. This is significantly faster than the average processing times of the Court. Klimaatzaak sees this as a sign that the judges in Brussels are aware of the urgency of this case. No less than twelve pleading sessions will be devoted to the case.
May 30, 2022
Climate Case receives the main conclusions on appeal from the federal government
With these main conclusions, the federal government responds to our appeal petition. Unfortunately, the Federal Minister has objected to the publication of her arguments, so we cannot share them with you.
June 30, 2022
Climate Case receives the main conclusions on appeal from the regions
With these main conclusions, the regions respond to our appeal petition, taking into account the previously presented arguments of the federal government. We can share the conclusions of the Brussels and Walloon Regions with you; unfortunately, the Flemish Minister maintains her objection to the publication of her arguments.
September 30, 2022
Filing conclusions Climate case on appeal
Our main conclusions contain the main arguments by which we intend to convince the judges of the Court of Appeal to grant our demands. This would entail imposing on our governments a mandatory pathway of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by which our country would assume its minimum share of responsibility to prevent dangerous global warming. We share the original French version and the machine-translated English version.
December 30, 2022
Climate Case receives Federal Government's supplementary appeal briefs
With these supplementary conclusions, the federal government responds to our main conclusions on appeal. Unfortunately, the federal minister objected to the publication of her arguments, so we cannot share them with you.
January 30, 2023
Climate case receives the regions' supplementary appeal conclusions
With these supplementary conclusions, the regions are responding to our main conclusions on appeal, taking into account the arguments of the federal government filed earlier. We can share with you the conclusions of the Brussels-Capital and Walloon regions; the Flemish minister unfortunately maintains the objection to the publication of her arguments.
March 31, 2023
Submission of summary conclusions Climate case on appeal
These conclusions are - in writing at least - the culmination of many years of litigation. In them you will find all our arguments for our governments to do their part in this global fight against the climate crisis. From mid-September, we will also convince the judges of this orally. Keep following us!
May 31, 2023
Climate Case receives the summary conclusions on appeal from the federal government
With these summary conclusions, the federal government responds to our final conclusions on appeal. Unfortunately, the federal minister objected to the publication of her arguments, so we cannot share them with you.
June 30, 2023
Climate case receives the regions' summary appeal conclusions
With these summary conclusions, the regions are responding to our final conclusions on appeal, taking into account the arguments of the federal government filed earlier. We can share with you the conclusions of the Brussels-Capital and Walloon regions; the Flemish minister unfortunately maintains the objection to the publication of her arguments.
From 14 September to 6 October 2023
Oral pleadings in appeal
From 14 September to 6 October 2023, our appeal case was pleaded. Unfortunately, the reports of those hearings do not exist in English, but can be found in the French and Dutch versions of our website. After four intense weeks, it is now up to the judges to deliver a verdict. We expect the verdict on 30 November at the earliest. As soon as we know more, we will inform you via our newsletter. You can still subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the homepage in Dutch and French.
Who is Climate Case?
11 founders, 21 ambassadors and more than 40 volunteers
Climate Case was founded in 2014 by 11 concerned citizens who wanted to take action against Belgium’s ailing climate policy. Since then, 21 ambassadors and more than 40 volunteers have played their part in the project.
Serge de Gheldere - Ignace Schops - Johan Van Den Bosch - Lambert Schoenmaekers - Dirk De Clippeleir - Tom Lenaerts - Francesca Vanthielen - Nic Balthazar - Stijn Meuris - Koen Vanmechelen - Tom Brookes
__Sihame El Kaouakibi (sociaal ondernemer) - Stan Van Samang (zanger) - Saartje Vandendriessche (tv-presentatrice) - Stijn Devillé (toneelschrijver en regisseur) - Griet Op De Beeck (schrijfster) - Peter Tom Jones (ingenieur urbanist) - Michel Genet (politiek directeur) - Wannes Capelle (zanger) - Tine Hens (journalist) - Tomas Wyns (onderzoeker) - Jonathan Holslag (onderzoeker) - Kamagurka (artiest) - Alexia Leysen (toneelschrijfster en activiste) - Jef Neve (pianist) - Jeroen Olyslaegers (schrijver) - Joost Callens (ondernemer) - Stefan Grosjean (ondernemer) - David Van Reybroeck (schrijver) - Anuna De Wever (Youth for Climate) - Kyra Gantois (Youth for Climate) - François de Borchgrave (stichter KOIS).
A board of directors and a coordination and communication team
The eight members of the board of directors set out the strategy. Climate Case has one member of staff, Sarah Tak, who coordinates everything . She is assisted by BlueGround for bookkeeping and by Unanimous and Cypres for communication.
Serge de Gheldere (president) - Ignace Schops (vice-president) - Lambert Schoenmaekers (treasurer) - Johan Van Den Bosch (treasurer) - Sarah Van Riel - Francesca Vanthielen - Dirk De Clippeleir .
How do we spend our money?
The money we raise pays for our legal costs, the running costs of the non-profit and the costs of communication and fund-raising. Any money left after the case will be passed on to Belgian organisations and projects working on ecology and transition.View our budget (in Dutch) >
View our budget (in French) >
Send an email to friends
Email your friends and colleagues and encourage them to join in. We’ve prepared a short message to inspire you.Envoyer un email