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The Netherlands faces pressure as global ‘test case’ for deep emissions cuts in 2020

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They are up against it. Governments are now finding themselves increasingly boxed in by their own climate ideology. From the report below:
Richard Tol, professor of the economics of climate change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said it is “highly unlikely” that the Netherlands will rise to the challenge, saying a [extra] 10% emissions reduction by the end of 2020 would “require shutting down a substantial part of the economy”.

But what options are there? Nuclear power is unpopular and can’t be built quickly anyway, while wind and solar power are part-time, intermittent, and relatively expensive. No viable ‘off-the-shelf’ way exists to store electricity on a massive scale. Awkward.
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The Netherlands is under pressure to slash emissions in sectors such as power generation and agriculture in 2020 after a ruling by a top court made the government a reluctant ‘test case’ for tougher global climate policies, says Climate Home News.

The government of conservative Prime Minister Mark Rutte is working out new measures after the Dutch Supreme Court in December ordered it to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the end of 2020, compared with 1990 levels, as its fair share to combat climate change.

It is a daunting task – latest official figures showed only a 15% drop on 1990 levels by the end of 2018, meaning sharp cuts will be needed in an economy where major emission sources are manufacturing, energy generation, transport and agriculture.

The case marked the end of a six-year legal battle by the non-profit Urgenda Foundation and was seen as a landmark moment for climate justice. UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment David Boyd called it the “most important climate change court decision in the world so far”.

The Supreme Court stressed that the Dutch government and parliament had a great deal of freedom to choose how to meet the 2020 goal. At 12 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person in 2017, Dutch emissions per capita are one of the highest in the EU and have barely fallen over the past decade.

“It really is a test case for very rapid emission reductions,” said Christiana Figueres, an architect of the 2015 Paris Agreement and former head of the UN climate change secretariat. “Of course the Netherlands is actually quite vulnerable because quite a lot of the territory is below sea level. This is in their interest to do so.”

Figueres said other governments will be watching, even if they are not under the same legal pressure, because they are likely to have to take similar radical action if they are serious about limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C – the tougher goal of the Paris Agreement.

Full report here.


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