Minister looks into early closure of coal-fired power stations

The Dutch government was sued after it decided to shut its coal-fired power stations. Photo:
Coal fired power stations could close earlier. Photo:

Economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes may consider closing one or more coal fired power stations earlier than planned to comply with CO2 reduction goals, broadcaster NOS reported on Thursday.

During a debate on Dutch plans to combat climate change late on Wednesday night, the minister admitted for the first time that the Netherlands is unlikely to reach the official target of cutting emissions by 25% compared to 1990 in two years time.

Experts say the government’s present climate policy will not lower CO2 emissions by more than 23%. That means some 4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions remain unaccounted for.

The early closure of, for example, the coal-fired power station in Amsterdam, which is planned for 2024, would be good for some 3 million tonnes.

The closure would form part of a package of additional measures which the minister said would be put in place next year, depending on the results of a new report on emission levels by Netherlands environmental assessment agency PBL due in January.

Five plants

The Netherlands currently has five coal-fired power stations, of which the three biggest and most polluting are in Rotterdam and the Eemshaven. The cabinet will shortly come up with a proposal for the closure of all five by 2030.

Last month, appeal court judges ordered the Dutch state to step up efforts to cut CO2 emissions in a case brought by campaign group Urgenda.

The state appealed against a decision three years ago that required it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% of 1990 levels by 2020. It was the first time a court had ruled that a national government was legally bound to follow through on promises made in international climate agreements.

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