The Netherlands sets an example by cancellation of greenhouse gas emission allowances

Global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the coming years run the risk of falling short. The Cabinet wants the Netherlands to go the extra mile by cancelling unused emission allowances. Under the Kyoto protocol, these allowances entitle the Netherlands to emit greenhouse gases harmful to the climate. As the efforts of, e.g., the transport and agricultural sectors have contributed to reducing emission levels in the Netherlands, we will no longer need these allowances.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, Minister Mansveld of Infrastructure and the Environment states how the cancellation of these unused allowances will be conducive to international climate negotiations: “With this gesture, the Netherlands intends to give positive impetus to the negotiations and calls upon other member states of the European Union to follow suit. It is undesirable to have such a large amount of allowances looming over the market.”

 Global climate negotiations are still predominantly focused on climate change mitigation. The Netherlands deems adaptation to the effects of climate change at least equally important, both for vulnerable developing countries and for the Netherlands.

Ms Mansveld: “In addition to the water issues ensuing from climate change, we must also be prepared for the major effects that higher temperatures and more extreme weather will have on the IT sector, agriculture, public health and transport. For example, damage to roads, the expansion of train rails due to heat, or exotic mosquitoes which appear in non-tropical countries with growing frequency.”

The Dutch approach

In global climate negotiations, the Netherlands advocates the Dutch approach, i.e., both mitigating climate change and preparing for the effects of the changing climate. This is something that calls for more than just agreements between countries and government leaders. In the opinion of the Netherlands, companies, cities, regions and civil society organisations pursuing these same goals should also be able to have a say in the agreements to be made. The Dutch Climate Coalition, to which already more than 200 cities, companies and civil society organisations have committed themselves, is an example of this Dutch approach. Globally, these types of coalitions should come up with practical innovations and implement the ambitions of the new climate agreement. In addition, they substantiate that investing in the climate is an economic opportunity that ensures sustainable growth.

Flexible agreement

In the negotiations, the Netherlands argues in favour of a flexible climate agreement. There must be room to adapt the agreements in the event of future changes in the world, without the need for extensive additional negotiations. Emerging nations with strong economic growth should eventually be able and be required to increase their contributions to climate change action. On the other hand, poor countries that are hit hardest by climate change should continue to receive support. Developed countries have pledged that this support must increase to 100 billion US dollars annually by 2020. This money will be used to support less developed countries to invest in cleaner industries, for example. It is also intended to protect these countries from the consequences of climate change, such as flooding, droughts, and food shortages.