Netherlands' 2020 climate goals "out of reach", planning office says

Greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas emissionsPhoto: Kagenmi/DepositPhotos

The Dutch state will not reach its climate- and energy targets for 2020, the Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL concluded in its short-term estimate for 2020. The PBL even goes so far to say that the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent compared to 1990 by next year, as stipulated in the Urgenda ruling, is "out of reach", reports.

In 2015 environmental organization Urgenda won a lawsuit in which it forced the Dutch state to adhere to its self-imposed C02 targets, which stem from an energy agreement concluded in 2013. The court in The Hague upheld this ruling after the State appealed. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, CO2 in particular, by 25 percent by next year, when compared to emission levels in 1990. According to PBL, the Dutch state will not reach this target, hovering around a 21 percent reduction. Since 2017 the amount of emissions even increased. 

The agency included an uncertainty margin in its report. The estimated CO2 reduction of 21 percent falls within a bandwidth of 17 to 24 percent. In terms of quantities, this means that in 2020 the Dutch state will be between 2 and 17 megatons of emissions above the agreed ceiling of 166 megatons. 

The PBL expects that greenhouse gas emissions will be 5 megatons higher in 2020 than the agency said in its previous estimate in 2017. For a large part, this is due to higher economic growth. Energy consumption in households and the industry is also decreasing less rapidly than previously estimated. 

The Dutch government is also not achieving two other climate targets, which did not form part of the Urgenda ruling. An estimated 12.2 percent of Dutch energy will be generated from renewable sources next year, 1.8 percent lower than the European target of 14 percent. And the Netherlands is still lagging behind when it comes to saving energy.

Now that these figures were published, the Dutch government will work on a plan to still achieve its 2020 targets, according to the newspaper. 

Urgenda has the option to claim a fine from the government if the targets are not met, but director Marjan Minnesma told that the organization would rather not take that option. "I do not want to play that card. I assume that we live under a rule of law. It will be a thing if the government says: we are ignoring this ruling."