Understanding policy instruments for ambitious targets

Under its ‘energy transition’ policy, the Netherlands aims to halve CO2 emissions in the built environment in 2030 compared with1990. This report is concerned with the simulation of policies to achieve that target. Policy simulations provide highly instructive insights into this kind of complex problem and facilitate users in the search for solutions, moreover.

According to research by Dutch planning agencies, the existing array of policies will not be enough to secure the envisaged emission targets: in the best case, no more than 10% reduction will be achieved. More drastic measures are therefore needed. This will mean further intensification of current policies, but above all introduction of tougher new regulations, a system of carbon emission rights and/or a further increase in energy taxes. By thus increasing use of clean energy and promoting more efficiently designed buildings/plant/equipment as well as more efficient use thereof, it will be possible to achieve the targets.

Policy simulations are an innovative addition to existing kinds of policy studies and can yield insight the dynamics and effects of a range of policies. A policy simulation allows the professionals involved to themselves experience the consequences of new policy within a short space of time. In a simulation exercise, different policy options can be straightforwardly compared, with their social and environmental impacts being highlighted in very penetrating fashion. In addition, the participants gain a better understanding of their own role in the policy ultimately proposed.

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