Doing justice to climate change. Towards a cost-effective 25% reduction in 2020

In a landmark verdict in the lawsuit filed by the Urgenda Foundation, on 24 June 2015 the district court of The Hague ruled that by 2020 the State of The Netherlands must reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% relative to 1990. On 1 September 2015, the Cabinet announced to Parliament that an immediate start would be made with implementing the court’s ruling.

In a letter to Parliament dated 9 April 2016 the Cabinet announced a series of policy measures deemed sufficient to meet the terms of the ruling. While the (concrete) measures lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, they are still insufficient to achieve the specified target, however.

The present study therefore addresses the following three questions:

  1. What gap remains in efforts to secure the 25% CO2 reduction target in 2020, once the measures cited in the Cabinet’s response are implemented?
  2. What is the most cost-effective policy package to bridge this gap?
  3. What will this cost the average household?

The Urgenda ruling determines that the Netherlands is obliged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020 relative to the 1990 level, which means carbon emissions must be reduced by a further 15 Mt additional to current plans. By rolling out a smart package of CO2 abatement measures the Urgenda ruling can be respected at no net cost to society. This most cost-effective package involves closing one or two new coal-fired power plants and use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) by industry. If it is opted to only close the two coal plants built in the 1990s, and not either or both of the new plants, far costlier alternatives measures will be required to secure the Urgenda target. The cost to society will then be around € 400-600 million, translating to an extra € 50-80 per annum for individual households. These are the main results of this study, carried out by CE Delft for the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and Eneco.

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