The implication of the Paris Climate Agreement for the Dutch climate policy objectives

By ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement, the Netherlands has committed to pursuing an ambitious climate policy. There are various methods for translating global targets into national policy objectives. This report shows that, for 2030,  corresponding to around 50% to 55% for total greenhouse gas emissions (compared to 1990), CO2 emission reductions would need to be around 40% to 50%.

Large uncertainties in translating the Paris Climate Agreement into national policy objectives

Various methods that can be used for calculating future emission targets that are consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement. They all show that emissions would need to be reduced substantially, over the next decades. The reason why reduction percentages for 2030 are larger for all greenhouse gases combined than for CO2 is that, over the 1990–2015 period, non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions decreased by more than those of CO2.

For the Netherlands, according to the National Energy Outlook 2017 (NEV 2017), policy will lead to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases in total (and 20% reduction in CO2, specifically) by 2030.

Achieving the 2 °C target requires at least 90% to 100% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050

Consistency with the Paris Climate Agreement, therefore, requires Dutch policy becoming more stringent, in the short term. Reaching (nearly) zero CO2 emission by 2050 will require far-reaching changes.

A certain share of such reductions may be achieved through technological measures. In addition, behavioural changes may also contribute. If the Netherlands were to decide to implement national climate policy conform the Paris Climate Agreement, the following principles could apply:

  • Focus policy on a greenhouse gas reduction of around 50% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.
  • Ensure that current decisions contribute to a long-term reduction target of 85% to 100%, by 2050.
  • Ensure a transition policy that is focused on the timely implementation of all infrastructural, technological and institutional preconditions required for the large-scale application of low-carbon technologies.
  • All this must be guaranteed, to create a stable environment for investments in an energy supply system with zero-carbon emissions, and the public must be involved in its implementation.


Detlef P. van Vuuren, Pieter A. Boot, Jan Ros, Andries F. Hof, Michel G.J. den Elzen


Publication title
The implications of the Paris Climate Agreement for the Dutch climate policy objectives
Publication date
14 November 2017
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