Dutch government outlines new package to reduce emissions

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Netherland's Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar smile during the North Sea Summit in Ostend, Belgium, Monday, April 24, 2023. Leaders gather on Monday in the hopes of expanding a collective ambition to harness the full energy and industrial potential of the North Sea and make it the largest powerhouse of Europe by 2050. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

THE HAGUE – The Dutch government unveiled a new package Wednesday to slash carbon emissions by promoting clean energy, sustainable homes and industry and the use of electric cars among other a raft of measures to combat climate change.

Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten said the package would cost a total of 28 billion euros in coming years and lead to a reduction of 55%-60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 benchmark levels.

“We are working towards a completely climate-neutral and circular economy by 2050. For that we really have to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

He pitched the package as a win-win scenario for the Netherlands — making it a leader in the energy transition needed to slow global warming while reducing dependency on external suppliers such as Russia.

“The climate challenges of today also create the economic opportunities for tomorrow," he told reporters in The Hague.

“If we lead the way in the green transition, we in the Netherlands will also reap the benefits for years to come,” he added. “By putting a lot of effort into our own renewable energy, we make ourselves less dependent on fossil energy from dubious regimes. We have our own clean and sustainable energy supply and therefore no longer have to be blackmailed by types such as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

Jetten unveiled the plans days after the Netherlands joined other Western European nations led by Germany and France in committing to massively ramp up the production of clean energy from wind turbines in the North Sea, to both meet climate targets and reduce their strategic energy dependence on Russia.

Jetten said the government aims to make the country's energy generation carbon-free by 2035.

While it has long pledged to meet the emission reduction targets set out in the 2015 Paris climate pact, the Netherlands has also been under pressure since the country's Supreme Court in 2019 upheld a landmark case brought by climate activists ordering the government to cut emissions by 25% by the end of 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that protection from the potentially devastating effects of climate change was a human right and that the government has a duty to protect its citizens.

Greenpeace welcomed the measures, while also calling for the country to accelerate the transition.

“Every step taken to reduce our emissions is appreciated. That is why we are happy that the government is taking these measures," Faiza Oulahsen, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace, said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we would like to point out that a considerable acceleration is still needed. The Netherlands will have to do even more to contribute to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees (Celsius),” she added.


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