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Belgian public authorities held liable for flawed climate policy: Klimaatzaak case

Nicolas de Sadeleer

elni Review 2024, pp. 4-11.

The judgment handed down in the Klimaatzaak case by the French-speaking Court of First Instance of Brussels on 17 June 2021 was largely confirmed by the well-reasoned 160-page judgment of the Brussels Court of Appeal of 30 November 2023. This judgment raises fundamental issues relating to the judicial review of inaction by public authorities that leads to a failure to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In reviewing the Belgian climate change policies in the light of the fundamental rights to life and private and family life and the general duty of care inherent in fault-based civil liability, the Court of Appeal narrowed the gap between Belgian GHG emission reduction targets and public mitigation measures. It follows that political rhetoric must be fleshed out into legal instruments that are properly designed to counter the impacts of climate change on life and privacy.

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