Climate Agenda: mitigation, adaptation and business sense

Climate change is a given, but the government aims to minimise the impact of this change through an effective combination of mitigation, adaptation and climate-smart innovation by business. Acting now is the cheapest option in the long run, as environment minister Wilma Mansveld explains in her Climate Agenda.

The policy document, presented to the House of Representatives today, sets out the opportunities and risks of climate change for the Netherlands and proposed measures to be taken at national, European and global level up to 2030. The Climate Agenda builds on the Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth initiated by the Social and Economic Council (SER).

Measures

Climate change predominantly requires a global response. The climate summit in Warsaw next month will pave the way for new international agreements in 2015. It is vital that the EU’s position in the negotiations is clear. The Netherlands is among the most ambitious countries in the EU, advocating a CO2 reduction of at least 40% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The government wants the Netherlands to become a leader in combating climate change by, for instance, stimulating innovations in clean energy, reducing raw materials wastage, and boosting energy savings in various sectors.

In the Climate Agenda, the government presents a combined approach to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change. At international level, countries have agreed to work to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Within the EU, the government aims to improve the emissions trading system (ETS) and set ambitious standards for various products. Measures also need to be taken for sectors that are not bound by the ETS, like agriculture and mobility. For the mobility sector, for instance, the Dutch target is a net CO2 emission of 25 Mt – 6 Mt less than in the business-as-usual scenario. This will mean reducing the emissions of some 3 million cars. The government is also developing a national adaptation strategy to manage the risks to health, transport and food production. The strategy will include measures – such as flood prevention, increasing green space in cities to improve heat resistance, and anticipating new diseases that may crop up in a warmer climate – to better equip the country to deal with the effects of climate change. The adaptation strategy is due to be completed in 2016.

Innovation

Many Dutch companies are already anticipating climate change and developing climate-smart solutions. In the Climate Agenda, the government sets out its policy for the long term in order to provide the stability and consistency that businesses need for developing innovations. Dutch companies and knowledge institutions have a lot of expertise in the area of sustainable innovation. In areas like water and environmental management, this expertise has high export potential, which would benefit the economy, spread sustainability and create jobs.