EC Finds Dutch Lagging in Green Commitments
Dutch major energy and water users' group VEMW has found criticisms of national energy policy in the European Commission's State of the Energy Union report, published October 14.
While the EC's overall assessment is positive, it says that Dutch national measures for sectors that fall under the so-called 'Effort Sharing Regulation' that lie outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS) – transport, the built environment and agriculture – are probably insufficient to meet the objectives.
By 2030, a 36% CO2 reduction must be achieved in those sectors, while Dutch Climate Agreement only reaches 31%. Energy and industry are on track, thanks to emissions trading that lowers the ceiling each year. But for the non-ETS sectors, national measures are needed and the EC is "particularly critical of emissions in the land use and forest management sector," VEMW says.
In addition to CO2 reduction, European regulations also include guidelines for energy efficiency and renewable energy (RES). The EC notes that the Netherlands is lagging behind in the roll-out of RES. And although it is "ambitious with regard to energy efficiency," it has not shown similar determination with regard to implementation. The national plans for research and innovation support the climate ambitions in the Netherlands.
However, it is not clear how much money will be budgeted after 2023 and the extent to which investment needs in the market are taken into account. Finally, complete information about energy subsidies in the Netherlands is lacking, it says.
Only 16 of the 27 member states have submitted a long-term strategy for carbon emissions reductions, the EC report says, and of those, 13 refer explicitly or implicitly to climate neutrality while the other three aim to cut their emissions from 80% to 95% compared with 1990. However, a clear definition of the term used for the overall goal is often lacking, and it is often not clear whether the targets that member states set are legally binding.
EU Energy Union 'shields the vulnerable'
The EC report also says that the 'Energy Union' legislative framework on energy security including the Regulation on Gas Security of Supply "has been instrumental in managing the impacts of the [Covid-19] crisis in the energy sector." The EC is continuing to help states to implement the solidarity principle that ensures uninterrupted gas supplies to the most vulnerable consumers even in severe gas crisis situations. Separately the EC will this autumn submit a report on the legislation on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations to the European Parliament and Council.
Cybersecurity is another new and growing risk to be managed and the EC has also started work on a network code to ensure cross-border electricity flows cannot be hacked.
The report also has an annex on fossil fuel subsidies, which the EC says have a damaging effect on investments in green technology and other routes to a net zero carbon future. They must therefore be cut, it says; but only Austria, Denmark, Estonia and Hungary did so. Most of the subsidies in 2018 occurred in the energy sector (€92 ($108)bn), of which 70% was accounted for by feed-in tariffs for renewable power generation.