Dutch vision on global climate action
Dutch climate policy is mainly aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 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), the Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997, and the UN Climate Agreement agreed in Paris in 2015. These agreements form the framework for Dutch policy on climate change.
UN Climate Agreement
In December 2015 the UN held a climate summit in Paris: the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21). The Netherlands was one of the countries to sign up to the UN Climate Agreement, also known as the Paris Agreement. The aim of the agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and make an effort for no more than 1.5 degrees. On 21 April 2016 the Dutch environment minister signed the climate agreement on behalf of the 28 member states of the European Union. The agreement has entered into force and its underlying obligations will need to be met as of 2020 onwards.
Causes of climate change
Dutch climate policy is based on national and international research. Human activities are the main cause of the greenhouse effect, which is speeding up climate change. The Earth’s temperature is rising because people are burning more fossil fuels, cutting down more forests, and using more land for crops and livestock farming. Historically, there are also a number of natural causes behind the rise in temperature: continental drift, ocean currents, the impact of comets and meteorites, and volcanic eruptions.
Government takes action to deal with the impact of climate change
To minimize the effects of climate change, the government needs to take action. Dutch climate policy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions so the climate does not change so rapidly and radically and the temperature rise is limited. Parallel to reducing greenhouse gasses, the government takes measures to adapt to the effects of climate change. For instance, by taking measures to prevent flooding and protect freshwater supplies, to reinforce dikes and dunes, and to manage heat stress in cities by planting more vegetation.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The main greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, or CO2 (56%), followed by methane (32%) and nitrous oxide (6%). These gases enter the atmosphere when oil, gas and coal are burned – for instance, in industry and transport – and through intensive livestock farming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be done by for example switching from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources, like solar and wind power, making more efficient use of energy in buildings and planting more trees that absorb CO2. Technology can help finding solutions to reduce emissions in many sectors.
Better technology can reduce greenhouse gases
Global demand is on the rise for technical solutions to lower greenhouse gases. The Netherlands aims to be a world leader in smart, clean and energy-efficient technologies. For example, the Netherlands can develop solutions for:
- saving energy;
- saving and reusing raw materials;
- cleaner cars;
- cleaner crop and livestock management methods;
- more energy-efficient devices and appliances.
Central government supports the development and marketing of new technologies, for example through Green Deals.