Long term prospects in Dutch climate change policy

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The importance of the problem is recognized not only in theoretical but also in practical policy fields. In Chapter 4 of the 1999 Netherlands' Climate Policy Implementation Plan, it is stated that, in order to be able to breach the trend and actually reduce CO2 emissions over time, the foundations for a long-term policy must be laid down. The Minister endorses the advice of the Environmental Advice Council, which considers technological and instrumental innovation a prerequisite for the transition to an economy based on low-carbon energy and believes that such a transition is essential if The Netherlands is to continue to participate in international climate policy.

From the Minister's point of view, greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately have to be drastically reduced to prevent anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Both The Netherlands and the European Union (EU) believe that, given their historic responsibility for the growth in atmospheric concentrations of carbon, the industrialized nations should take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases and should make considerably greater efforts than the developing countries. It is interesting to note that in The Netherlands' Climate Policy Implementation Plan (1999), three packages of measures are worked out: the basic package, the reserve package (if the basic package is not successful enough) and the innovation package (for the period after the first commitment period 2008-2012). Elements of the basic package are energy savings in the traffic sector, CO2 reductions from energy savings in households and businesses, renewable energy, measures aimed at coal-fired power plants and sequestration in forests, and reductions in emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. The reserve package consists of an increase in the regulatory energy tax, increased excise duties, N2O reductions in the chemicals industry and CO2 storage. In essence for the long-term policy, the innovation package is aimed at instrumental innovation (which would create the possibility of trade in emission and reduction rights) and technological innovation (which would make climate-neutral energy carriers an integral part of all existing policies).

In The Netherlands' Climate Change Policy Implementation Plan part II (2000), The Netherlands' use of the Kyoto instruments in cooperation with foreign countries is worked out. It is in this document that the flexible instruments (JI, ET and CDM) are discussed.

In terms of current policy in The Netherlands, 'long-term policy' refers to the next 20 years, which is definitely not a real long-term approach. One could argue that, from the perspective of the two visions discussed here, the Government of The Netherlands has a very short-term approach!

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