Climate target 2030 requires vigorous implementation of existing and new policy

Taking adopted and proposed policies as the point of reference, Dutch greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease by between 38% and 48% in 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This means that the government’s emission reduction target of 49% by 2030 is not yet in view. Recent government plans, amongst which the Budget Memorandum 2022 with budgetary proposals for climate and energy, can contribute to a further reduction in emissions. The estimated reduction is substantially larger than in last year’s Climate and Energy Outlook (2020), which came to a reduction of 30% to 40%. This is largely due to policies having been made more explicit for industry and the mobility and transport sector. With roughly 8 years to go until 2030, it is important that existing policies be implemented as vigorously as possible. On top of that, the current government target for 2030 and the recently published higher ambition level of the European Commission calls for additional policy proposals for 2030.

These are some of the main conclusions from the Climate and Energy Outlook 2021 (KEV), an annual publication stipulated by the Dutch Climate Act and regarded as one of the accountability instruments of Dutch climate and energy policy.

Projected lower emission level for 2030 largely due to concrete policy for industry, mobility and transport

In industry and the mobility and transport sector, over the past year, policy measures have been more concrete. For heavy industry, the new CO2 tax, in combination with the SDE++ subsidy, causes a structural change in projected greenhouse gas emissions. These policy measures will likely decrease emissions by 9–16 megatonnes CO2 equivalents by 2030. This decrease will largely be attributable to carbon capture and storage (CCS). A smaller share can be attributed to electrification, energy saving and a reduction in non-CO2 greenhouse gases. Amongst other measures, the concretisation of the policy on renewable energy will lead to a decrease in emissions in the mobility and transport sector of close to 3 Mt by 2030.

Additional climate policy needed to achieve government target for 2030 and EU ambitions

With an expected decrease in emissions of between 38% and 48% by 2030, another 1–11 percentage points remain, in relation to the 49% target, which equals 3 to 25 Mt CO2 eq. According to the Climate and Energy Outlook, of this remainder, a further 2–4 Mt CO2 eq could be reduced by the timely implementation of a number of measures from the Climate Agreement currently on the agenda. A separate PBL publication about the climate  and energy measures in the Budget Memorandum 2022 concludes that these measures can lead to a few more megatonnes in emission reduction by 2030.

The recent ‘Fit for 55’ package of measures proposed by the EU has as yet not been made sufficiently concrete to project its potential contribution to closing the gap to the 49% target by 2030. The package contains proposals and ambitions that may change, substantially, in the course of the decision-making process, but it will undoubtedly require a large additional effort by the Netherlands.

All things considered, the Netherlands faces the major task of having to implement current climate and energy policy as vigorously as possible, and to concretise current national climate targets plus the additional efforts in the ‘Fit for 55’ proposals. This implies additional climate policy for 2030, which also takes into account the long-term energy transition up to 2050 and other policy themes, such as addressing the issue of nitrogen emissions.

2020 emissions approximately at Urgenda target level, 2021 emissions likely to exceed target

Emission reductions in 2020 amounted to 25%, in relation to 1990 levels. This is roughly at the level of the Urgenda target, which required at least 25% reduction for 2020 and the years thereafter. The fact that this target is within reach, is due to incidental developments in the energy sector in 2020, that year’s relatively warm weather and a temporary reduction in emissions from road traffic because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. The outlook for 2021 is that emissions, in the Netherlands, will again increase and surpass the Urgenda target level. This is explained by the relatively colder weather in the first half of 2021 in relation to 2020, and the increased economic activity in industry and the electricity sector. Between 2022 and 2025, emission levels will steadily decrease due to adopted and proposed policies, but the risk of not achieving the 25% reduction target remains.

Progress on implementation Climate Agreement limited in the built environment, agriculture and land use

There are strong differences between sectors in the implementation of the 2019 Climate Agreement. Although progress has clearly been made in industry and the electricity and mobility and transport sectors, this progress is only limited in the built environment, agriculture and land use. These sectors have started preparatory research and pilot projects, the results of which will contribute to the elaboration of policy measures. The limited progress in these sectors implies that, in some cases, earlier estimates already need to be adjusted downwards. For example, the target of making 1.5 million existing houses and other buildings sustainable by 2030 is no longer realistic, due to delayed implementation of the policy package for natural gas-free neighbourhoods. In the agricultural sector, however, co-benefits are possible, if policy measures are combined with a long-term approach to the nitrogen issue. Once these measures are made more concrete, their implementation will likely contribute to lower greenhouse gas emission levels.

Background information

The Climate and Energy Outlook has been realised by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (coordination), in close collaboration with Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), with contributions from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Wageningen University and Research (WUR).


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