Will we achieve the 25% emission reduction target for greenhouse gases in 2020?

The court ruling in the lawsuit filed by the Urgenda Foundation in 2013 contra the Dutch State means that the Netherlands must reduce CO2 emissions on its mainland territory by 25% relative to 1990 by the year 2020. In written communications with Parliament in December 2016 and June 2017 Minister Kamp of Economic Affairs has indicated that he anticipates that this target will be achieved. Although the National Energy Outlook (NEO) for 2016 indicates a shortfall of 4 Mt CO2 reduction, he expects this gap can be bridged through Carbon Capture and Storage under the CCS ROAD programme, implementation of measures under the National Energy Agreement and measures relating to agricultural phosphate.

Since the publication of NEO 2016, the document on which the minister based his statements, new data and insights have emerged pertaining to substantial elements of the package he envisages.

  • onshore wind is developing slower than expected
  • CCS ROAD has been discontinued
  • electricity imports may prove lower than anticipated
  • there are other developments that may impact CO2 emissions either positively or negatively.

This analysis, carried out for the Dutch Renewable Energy Foundation (NVDE), shows that it is highly uncertain that the 25% emissions reduction in 2020 will be secured with the current policy package. Because of the inertia of onshore wind development, Dutch mainland emissions are set to rise by 0.3-1.7 Mt. Discontinuation of CCS ROAD means an additional 1.2 Mt emission. The shortfall will likely be further aggravated by electricity imports being lower than the minister’s forecast. Two studies, both commissioned by his own ministry, point to these imports being 20 TWh lower, implying an additional 7 Mt CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. On the other hand, CO2 emission cuts in greenhouse horticulture may be greater than projected in NEO 2016 (0-1 Mt). Summing the various items, emissions in 2020 will be between 0.5 and 10 Mt higher than assessed by the minister.

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