Saturday 04 December 2021

EU climate policy will have ‘significant consequences’ for NL

Frans Timmermans, Kadri Simson

The European Commission’s climate change plans will have ‘significant consequences’ for Dutch climate and energy policy and will partly require a change of course, the Dutch environmental assessment agency PBL said on Friday in a new report.

The EU package, Fit for 55, was drawn up by commissioner Frans Timmermans and will set a legal goal of a climate neutral EU by 2050 and the intermediate target of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990.

If approved by member states, the Netherlands will have to step up its progress considerably, particular to meet the tougher greenhouse gas reduction plan. The Dutch climate agreement foresees a 49% cut in greenhouse gas emissions within the next nine years.

In addition, goals for green hydrogen use, energy saving and renewable energy for heating and cooling will also present a ‘hefty task’ for the Netherlands, the PBL said.

For example, Netherlands has given an important although temporary role to carbon capture and storage and the use of blue hydrogen, produced by gas, in its own Climate Agreement.

The commission, however, wants to introduce the mandatory use of a large share of green hydrogen, produced by renewable energy, and solid goals for renewable heat and energy savings.

The EU strategy, therefore, would require industry to make the transition more quickly. This, the PBL says, may make the Dutch energy transition more expensive up to 2030 and also poses a risk to the emission reduction rate in industry, because of the time needed to get green hydrogen production up to speed.

Earlier this week, the Financieele Dagblad reported that many of the current green hydrogen plans are ‘pie in the sky’ because of the lack of supply and the cost.

Energy poverty

The EU proposals also call for measures to relieve energy poverty by financially supporting people who cannot cope with the cost of the transition.

This, the agency says, is different to the Dutch approach which aims for housing cost neutrality for everyone. Earlier this week national statistics agency CBS said that some 550,000 households in the Netherlands live in energy poverty because they have high bills, poorly insulated homes and low incomes.

There are some good fits. The Dutch decision to close all coal fired power stations by 2030 and measures to stimulate the use of electric cars dovetail well with the EU proposals.

And the EU’s decision to tighten up emissions trading rules, mean there will also be more of a level playing field within Europe, the PBL said.

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