Climate Litigation

The Netherlands is a front-runner in climate change civil litigation. Companies should be aware that there have been important developments in this field that are globally relevant.

In the Urgenda judgment, the Supreme Court ordered the Dutch state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Shell also has pending proceedings in which plaintiffs have requested a similar court order. We expect judgment in this case to be handed down on 26 May 2021.


Both the Urgenda judgment and the Shell proceedings set important precedents. We expect more climate change litigation due to a significant increase in government climate change policies (following, among other things, the Urgenda judgment) imposing stricter and more enforceable obligations on companies. There is also an increasing trend of soft law commitments (guidelines, codes of conduct, non-binding and binding declarations) that could indirectly create civil law obligations for companies.

Climate liability

The Netherlands is a popular jurisdiction for environmental NGOs to initiate climate change actions. The Netherlands plans to enact stricter and more enforceable regulatory obligations related to climate change. The risks of both regulatory and civil liability will increase when this happens. Companies should therefore develop policies to mitigate their exposure to climate change risks, including liability risks. Litigation prevention is key and Houthoff can work with clients to identify, avoid and navigate the complexities of climate change liability and litigation risks.
  • Advised various private and public organisations and public-private partnerships on the State aid rules, the competition rules and regulatory requirements regarding initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions in production processes, producing renewable energy and realising innovative applications and circular production methods. Moreover, the team was involved in various proceedings at national and EU level relating to measures introduced to realise climate objectives at local and national level.
  • Advised sponsors on the financing for several offshore and onshore windfarms in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Advised Van Oord on green term loans to finance two new vessels using cleaner technologies.
  • Advised senior lenders on the financing of the first metal recycling company in the Netherlands using a blended finance structure with financial support under the Energy Transition Facility from the Dutch department of economic affairs.
  • Advised Renewi on its green bond financing.
  • Advised various pension funds on implementing the Dutch Pensions Funds Agreement (IMVB-convenant).
  • Advised fund managers, investment firms and institutional investors on complying with the requirements under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).
  • Advised Climeworks AG on establishing a joint venture with SkyNRG B.V. to use CO2 captured from the air to produce sustainable aviation fuels, and related matters.
  • Advised fund managers, investment firms and institutional investors on implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) related clauses in fund documentation, policy documents and fiduciary asset management agreements.
  • Advised Porthos as project counsel on acquiring a mining installation and related permits to store CO2 in empty gas fields beneath the North Sea, drafting related agreements and other matters. The Porthos Project is the largest CO2 reduction project in the Netherlands which aims to capture and store 37 million tonnes of CO2 in a 15-year period. Porthos is recognised by the European Union as a project of common interest.
Albert Knigge

Key Contact

Advocaat | Managing Partner
+31 20 605 65 62
+31 6 5184 5323