Netherlands Allocates Climate Commitments

June 23, 1999

The Dutch government has indicated what contributions different economic sectors will have to make if the Netherlands is to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol. A climate change strategy developed by five ministries and launched earlier this month anticipates making use of the flexible mechanisms available under the Kyoto protocol to the greatest extent allowed, with the bulk of the remaining commitment to be met by emissions cuts in the energy and heavy industry sectors.

Assuming an economic growth rate of 3.3%, the strategy predicts that greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced by 50m tonnes (Mt) from a projected 256 Mt of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent to reach the country's 6% reduction commitment by 2010.

Emissions trading and joint implementation schemes envisaged by the Kyoto protocol will be used to achieve 50% of this reduction under a formula agreed by EU states last month (ENDS Daily 10 May), the document says, although a recent study suggested that the formula would only allow the Netherlands to meet 42% of its commitments in this way (ENDS Daily 7 June).

The energy and industrial sectors will share the greatest absolute and relative burden of the eliminating the remaining 25 Mt, the document shows. Under the "base package", to be reviewed in 2002 and 2005, the energy sector would remove 40% of the emissions by switching from coal to gas in power plants (6 Mt), developing greater renewable energy potential (2 Mt) and increasing the use of heat and power cogeneration.

Industry should prevent a similar amount of emissions by improving product design and implementing voluntary "benchmark covenants" already agreed with government (ENDS Daily 6 May) to increase energy efficiency to the world's best (2.3 Mt). It should also reduce the quantities of highly potent greenhouse gases HFCs and PFCs used in the chemical and aluminium sectors (7.7 Mt).

In other sectors, households will be encouraged by subsidies and fiscal measures to improve energy efficiency, while emissions from transport will be reduced through the promotion of more fuel-efficient cars, the introduction of distance-based road tolls and the abolition of tax breaks for commuters travelling by car.

The package of measures was chosen from a list drawn up by independent research bodies in consultation with all the sectors involved. If the reviews indicate a shortfall in reductions the government will introduce a "reserve package" of measures, including increased energy taxes, higher duties on motor fuels and the underground storage of the gases involved.

Unveiling the strategy, environment minister Jan Pronk said that the target was "just a start" and would be followed by "much stronger action" after 2010. The strategy will be debated by the Dutch parliament in the autumn.

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