Climate policy

To combat climate change, the Dutch government wants to reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Central government is taking measures and making agreements with other parties to achieve this goal.

The Climate Act and the National Climate Agreement set out the Netherlands’ climate goals

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a major goal of our national climate policy. Too many greenhouse gases in the air change the climate, and this has a big impact on plants and animals, food crops and water levels. The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2).

The proposal for the Climate Act was sent to parliament in June 2018. It calls for a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and a 95% reduction by 2050. The Act should give individuals and companies in the Netherlands more certainty about the climate goals.

The National Climate Agreement, which is due to be concluded at the end of 2018, will contain agreements with the sectors on what they will do to help achieve the climate goals. The participating sectors are: electricity, industry, built environment, traffic and transport, and agriculture.

The 2013 Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth encourages sustainable energy generation and energy savings through a variety of measures. The government concluded this agreement with employers, trade unions, environmental organisations and others.

International climate goals

International cooperation is the best way to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming. The Netherlands has committed to several international agreements on tackling climate change, like the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (the very first climate treaty) and the Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997. The Kyoto Protocol lays down different emission reduction targets for different countries and allows countries to trade in emissions.

In 2015 the Netherlands signed up to a new UN climate agreement at COP21, the Paris Climate Conference. The Paris Climate Agreement aims to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius overall, but preferably limit it to 1.5 degrees. In 2016 the then environment minister, Sharon Dijksma, signed the Paris Agreement on behalf of the 28 European Union member states. The agreement will enter into force in 2020.

International research

Dutch climate policy is based on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC was established by the UN to report on research into the causes and effects of climate change, the risks it poses to our future and the measures needed to halt global warming.

Climate agreement timeline

Judgment in the climate case brought by Urgenda against the State of the Netherlands

The Hague Court of Appeal upheld a previous judgment in Urgenda v. The State of the Netherlands, in which the district court ruled that carbon emissions in the Netherlands must be reduced by at least 25% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2020. The government will comply with the ruling.

Urgenda instituted legal proceedings against the State in 2013. The organisation wants carbon emissions in 2020 to be 40% lower than in 1990. Its demands are set out in detail in the writ of summons. In 2015 The Hague district court ruled that carbon emissions must be at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. The State lodged an appeal against this judgment. The reasons why can be found in its statement of grounds for appeal.