Europe forces the Netherlands to take more action against climate change

More electric cars, insulated houses, wind farms and solar panels. New rules for airlines and shipping companies. The chemical industry will have to pay more for CO2 emissions. These are the consequences for the Netherlands of the European Commissions stricter climate policy. The discussion about the number of cows in the Netherlands is also expected to continue.

The Dutch Climate Agreement is based on reducing CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030. With the support of the Netherlands, Europe now wants to go up to 55%. According to the committee, this is necessary in order to prevent further global warming, and it can give Europe a pioneering technological role in the world. The Cabinet is now having it investigated how the Netherlands can meet the new requirements.

At the end of next month, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) will present a study which, according to sources, shows that the implementation of the Climate Agreement is not going fast enough. The PBL will provide an initial technical impetus to achieve the new European target.

Good news for the industry

It may sound contradictory, but the leaked plans of the European Commission seem to be good news for industry. It is true that the most polluting companies will have to pay more for the CO2 they emit, but the rules in Europe will then be the same for all companies. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Expects that the Dutch CO2 levy will no longer have any additional effect if the European rules work properly. The competitive disadvantage for Dutch companies on the European market will then disappear. In order to protect European companies against unfair competition from, for example, China or the US, tax will be levied on dirty products imported from outside the EU.

No longer an exception for aviation and shipping

Both in the international climate agreement in Paris and in the Dutch agreements, aviation and shipping remain virtually untouched. The European Commission wants to change this. This means fewer flights within Europe and the promotion of bio- and synthetic paraffin as fuel for aircraft.

The European Commission also wants to see sustainable alternatives to shipping. Electric barges and ferries already exist, but only LNG is an alternative for large sea-going vessels. The European Commission wants to see that sustainable alternatives to maritime shipping, such as hydrogen and ammonia, are now also being considered.

Doubling of wind turbines and solar panels

Most of the CO2 reduction in the Dutch Climate Agreement will be achieved by switching from coal and gas to solar and wind power, for the production of electricity. As a result, 70% of the electricity must be sustainable by 2030.

Now that the target has been raised from 49% to 55%, more electricity is also needed for industry and the transport sector. According to calculations made by the electricity table of the Climate Agreement, this means that twice as many wind turbines and solar panels will need to be added each year in the new plans as is currently planned.

Electric cars

The cabinet previously decided that new cars should be electric from 2030 onwards. Stricter CO2 rules will be imposed on European car manufacturers, as a result of which more electric cars will be produced. If they become cheaper as a result, the number of electric cars (1.9 million) and charging stations (1.7 million) could rise by 2030. The Commission also advocates a form of road pricing which the Netherlands is already investigating.

Heating homes and offices

Making the heating of houses and offices sustainable is the most difficult part of the Climate Agreement. The objective in this area therefore remained limited. By way of comparison: the amount of CO2 that must be reduced here by 2030 is half of what Tata Steel emits in IJmuiden. In total, some two million houses must be sustainable by 2030. With an extra subsidy, the CO2 reduction by households in the Netherlands could still be somewhat higher, but the climate gains are limited.


Commissioned by Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate, officials are now drawing up a list of possible additional measures that can ensure that the Netherlands meets the new target of 55% by 2030. This is being done under the leadership of Laura van Geest, Chairman of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets. At the end of the year, this package will go to the House of Representatives without any reaction from the Cabinet.

The package of measures will then be ready for the formation of the next cabinet. It is therefore not the intention that the current cabinet will come up with major additional measures to the Climate Accord after Budget Day. First there will be elections to the House of Representatives in March.