Council of State in the Netherlands: Major steps are now necessary to achieve Climate Act objectives

Council of State in the Netherlands: Major steps are now necessary to achieve Climate Act objectives

Council of State in the Netherlands: Major steps are now necessary to achieve Climate Act objectives


According to the website of the Council: “The Climate Act came into force in the Netherlands on 1 September 2019. The aim of this act is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2. Excessive greenhouse gas in the atmosphere change the climate and have negative consequences for people and the natural environment. The task of the Advisory Division of the Council of State by virtue of the Climate Act is to review the climate policy implemented by the government.” For further information, please click here.

The Council of State (Advisory body on legislation and highest general administrative court) in the Netherlands

On October 30, the Council of State posted the following message on its website (‘translated’): “The climate goals which the government and parliament have set for themselves in the Climate Act are not being achieved. This is only possible if additional measures are already taken now to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This cannot be delayed. The Climate and Energy Outlook 2020 of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) shows that no substantial progress has been made compared to last year: the estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, at 34%, is far behind the statutory target of 49% . The ultimate goal, a 95% reduction in emissions by 2050, also seems out of sight. A coherent and coordinated legislative programme is now required to achieve the goals. Furthermore, much is still needed to successfully implement the so-called regional energy strategies.”

Click here for more information.

The website further states: “In the Climate Act, which has been in force since 1 September 2019, the Advisory Division of the Council of State has been given a new task: assessing the government’s climate policy. It does this by testing the government’s Climate Plan every five years. This happened for the first time in October 2019. This year the Advisory Division discussed the annual Climate Policy Document for the first time. In order to be able to perform this new task properly, the Advisory Division uses an assessment framework.”.

Assessment framework Advisory Division of the Council of State

The Advisory Division assesses the Climate Plan on the basis of a fixed assessment framework. This consists of four parts:

  • Climate goals
  • Administrative and implementation aspects
  • Economic considerations
  • Legal aspects

The assessment framework is intended for the Climate Plan, but can also be the starting point for assessing the Climate Policy Document and the Progress Report, according to the Council of State on his website.

It is very good that we have this important institution to properly inform the Dutch population.

In previous blogs on our website it was already stated that the Netherlands is certainly not at the forefront in Europe and in the field of renewable energy (see previous blog by clicking the link here) the Netherlands is in last place. These kinds of reports feed the picture that is now also outlined by the Council of State. We have to act more and faster!

The Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020

The Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020, recently published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, contains a number of interesting findings. Below we have listed several relevant points, translated from the Dutch version, and printed in Italics.

6 key observations shared in the Dutch Outlook 2020 are quite worrying, but not surprising, given previous blogs we’ve written:

  1. Emission reduction pace must double to achieve the 2030 reduction target.
  2. Achievement of the Urgenda target is uncertain, even with a large, second coronavirus wave.
  3. Largest emission reductions in the power sector, fewer reductions among the end-use sectors.
  4. Renewable heating and fuels lag behind and the energy savings rate decreases.
  5. The Netherlands is increasingly dependent on imported natural gas.
  6. The Netherlands’ greenhouse gas footprint is larger than its national greenhouse gas emissions.

The great thing about such an extensive report is to receive a lot of detailed information, but that can also be a disadvantage to miss the overarching picture (“not to see the wood for the trees”).

The Dutch Outlook 2020 provides the distribution of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands (in megatons of CO2 equivalents) over the various sectors in the year 2019 (provisional data RIVM / Emission Registration):

  • Land use: 4.8
  • Built Environment: 23.3 (= 12,3% of total emissions)
  • Agriculture: 26.4
  • Mobility: 35.2
  • Electricity: 42.3
  • Industry: 56.7
  • Total = 188.7

The report shows future projections and hence the concerns expressed.

We would like to mention a few other relevant facts from the chapter ‘Built Environment’ of the Netherlands Climate and Energy Outlook 2020:

  • With a 70% share, Dutch households make the largest contribution to the total emissions from the built environment.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from households and services are almost entirely determined by gas consumption for space heating, hot water preparation and cooking. In itself no news here, but it shows once again that insulation measures are very important.
  • Decrease in gas consumption due to reduction in household size, climate change and improved energy quality of homes. An average gas-fired home now (in 2020) consumes around 1,250 cubic meters of natural gas, compared to nearly 1,950 cubic meters in 2000. The Outlook estimates that natural gas consumption will decrease for an average gas-heated home in 2030 to just over 1,000 cubic meters of gas.
  • The consumption of electricity in homes has more or less stabilised since 2012. An average household used approximately 3,100 kilowatt hours per year in 2019. This could decrease further to ca. 2,600 kilowatt hours by 2030. This concerns the total supply from the grid plus own generation.
  • Regarding energy-saving measures, a distinction must be made between on the one hand so-called single measures such as floor, roof, facade or window insulation and replacement of heating systems and on the other hand renovations that often already have an integrated character.
  • The Outlook reports a few interesting figures: in 2018, 450,000 insulation measures were taken, 280,000 glass improvements were made, and 375,000 central heating boilers were replaced by an high efficiency central heating boiler or heat pump (source: RVO 2019).
  • Dutch TNO organisation has recently concluded that improved consumption and cost overview has no measurable saving effect compared to the old situation. Remarkable and it raises questions; how can we provide better insight that influence human behaviour positively.

For more information, we refer to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) link: