Ministers finalise measures to cut air pollution following Urgenda court case


The Dutch government has unveiled a new package of measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in line with the Urgenda court ruling last December.

That ruling stated the government must slash emissions by 25% compared with 1990 by the end of this year. Various researchers suggest the Netherlands is on course to reduce CO2 emissions by only 19% to 23%, although the coronavirus pandemic has already had a major impact on pollution levels.

The new measures, thrashed out by ministers over the past few weeks, include a limit on the volume of emissions from the country’s four remaining coal-fired power stations, but not a quicker decommissioning as campaigners had hoped. More details on this will be published by the summer.

The NRC reported in March that the cabinet has been looking into the option of closing all coal-fired power stations in the Netherlands early. All are due to be closed by 2030.


The package includes a variety of projects to help industry reduce CO2 emissions by improving equipment and techniques, and to boost a green approach to construction. There will also be more subsidies to help greenhouse growers operate in a more energy efficient way, economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes said.

In addition, the package includes €150m to help home owners and landlords make their properties more energy efficient and a €150m cut in taxes for housing corporations that invest in insulating and improving energy use.

People who hand in old fridges and freezers will also be eligible for a €35 discount to buy a new one.

Wiebes said he expected the new measures to provide an economic impulse, particularly in sectors which have not been affected by the coronavirus crisis. ‘If a measure appears to be having a negative effect on jobs, the cabinet will do its best to offset this as much as possible,’ Wiebes said.

Measures introduced earlier to tackle nitrogen compound pollution, such as help for livestock farmers who wish to leave the sector, will also have an impact on meeting the Urgenda targets, Wiebes said. Those measures were also brought in following a court case.

54 measures

According to the Urgenda foundation, which brought the original court case, at least 30 of the 54 measures it proposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution are being entirely or partially implemented by the government.

The foundation said in a statement it is positive about the cabinet’s plans. ‘The cabinet is not only opting for the cheapest option (completely or partly closing coal-fired power stations), but also for measures that ensure public support, lower energy bills, cleaner air and more biodiversity.’

Urgenda said it is also pleased the extra package includes ‘resources that can help to generate more work for SMEs and the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis.’

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