Environmental groups already critical of Dutch government's climate agreement

Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation. (Photo: elenathewise/DepositPhotos)

The Climate Agreement that the Dutch government is presenting on Friday afternoon is insufficient for fair and effective climate policy, according to environmental organizations Greenpeace and Milieudefensie and trade union FNV. "A few crucial improvements are needed to ensure that we achieve the right breakthroughs for the Netherlands and the world", Greenpeace director Joris Thijssen said at a press conference just hours before the government presented its plans, NOS reports.

Milieudefensie and Greenpeace called some plans in the Climate Agreement too vague. The organizations are particularly critical of the government's plan for a CO2 tax and the plans to store CO2 underground, which they call a "sham solution".  

The environmental groups call for "firm agreements and guarantees", appealing to parliamentarians and Senators to achieve this. "Then the Netherlands can be made future-proof and investments in climate policy can pay for themselves." 

Trade union FNV still thinks that the costs of the energy transition are placed too much on citizens' shoulders. The union fears that vulnerable groups in society will be the victims of these pans. "There are may households that can hardly afford their energy bills now."

Support among the Dutch public for measures against climate change is also dropping, social and cultural planning office SCP reported on Friday. Currently 38 percent of people support investing in anti-climate change measures, compared to 46 percent at the end of last year. Dutch citizens are more concerned about the environment, but they are less willing to spend money on measures to protect it, the SCP found. This partly has to do with the around 330 euros jump in energy bills revealed in January, according to the planning office. 

The plans in the Climate Agreement must help the Netherlands achieve its goal of a 49 percent reduction in CO2 emissions in 2030, compared to 1990. The plans presented on Friday are reworked from the draft agreement that was published in December. Calculations by Dutch planning offices PBL and CPB showed that the draft agreement would likely not achieve this goal, and that businesses are contributing too little.

The government therefore revised the plans. The changes made include a taxation shift so that the costs of the measures are more evenly distributed among citizens and businesses. Gas prices will still increase, but electricity prices will decrease and citizens will get an exemption on energy tax to compensate for this. 

Earlier this week, sources told broadcaster NOS that the plans in the Climate Agreement are enough to achieve the set goal in CO2 emission reductions. 

Another of the government's goals in the fight against climate change - and fracking earthquakes in Groningen - is to no longer use natural gas by 2050. But it will take another 280 years for the Netherlands to live gas-free, the Volkskrant reports based on figures from Netbeheer Nederland, the umbrella organization for grid managers in the Netherlands. To achieve the goal of no more gas in 2050, around a thousand homes a day need to be taken off the gas network. Currently that number stands at 57 every day. 

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