Impacts of socialising the costs of gas grid disconnection

At the 2015 Paris climate summit it was agreed that steps must be taken to limit global temperature rise to 2 °C and preferably to 1.5°C. To this end the Netherlands has pledged to reduce national CO2 emissions by at least 95% relative to 1990 by 2050, with an interim target of 49% by 2030.

One of the many measures required to achieve these targets is a drastic overhaul of space heating systems in over 7.1 million homes. The government has pledged that by 2050 all Dutch dwellings are to be ‘zero-gas’, with an interim target of 1.5 million homes by 2030.  Besides climate considerations, this is also motivated by plans to phase out Groningen gas production by 2030 at the latest.

The bill paid by households for disconnection from the natural gas grid (on average € 617) represents a financial barrier to achieving these aims, seen by those paying as a ‘punishment’ for the move. For achieving the envisaged CO2 cuts and reducing dependency on Groningen gas they are a perverse incentive.

This study, commissioned by the Dutch Society for Nature and Environment (Natuur en Milieu), assesses the impact of socialising the costs of disconnection from the gas grid. Such a step is justifiable on the grounds of the targets in question being crucial for the Netherlands as a society, not simply for individual households. From this perspective it would therefore seem logical for disconnection costs to be borne by society as a whole rather than by individual households.