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How Does the Dutch ‘Regeerakkoord’ Impact Our Climate?

How Does The Dutch ‘Regeerakkoord’ Impact Our Climate?

After six months of negotiations the Dutch coalition released its coalition agreement.

Reduced asylum migration, lower deductibles, four nuclear power plants: the coalition agreement of PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB includes numerous proposals. We explore what this means for the climate and have summarized the key points for you.

The Climate Plans Won’t Go Through the ‘Shredder’

Citizens will be spared, and the energy transition will continue. Contrary to PVV’s announcement, the climate plans will not be scrapped. The coalition relies mainly on the “existing agreements” regarding climate, stating in the agreement: “Only if we do not meet the goals will we implement alternative policies.”

The broad outlines of the climate policy initiated by Rutte IV remain primarily untouched. The forming parties reframe climate plans as guarantees for energy security and aim to reduce dependence on “unreliable countries.”

The fingerprints of the VVD can be clearly seen in the terminology and plans. The new cabinet aims to continue green industrial policy, where the government makes agreements with large companies to accelerate sustainability in exchange for subsidies. These ’tailored agreements’ might be expanded. Despite BBB’s election promise to stop offshore wind farms, the coalition agreement states that new wind turbines will be placed “as much as possible at sea.”

The new cabinet plans to build four nuclear power plants and keep Borssele open. An additional 9.5 billion euros will be reserved for this, presumably partly funded by the National Growth Fund. This subsidy scheme for innovation will be halted, freeing up 7.8 billion euros.

The energy tax on gas for households will be reduced or not increased for large users. The reduction in excise duty on fossil fuels will be extended until 2025. Fossil fuel subsidies must be phased out in Europe, and the recent price increase for CO2 for the Dutch industry will be reversed.

The coalition has ambitious plans to support lower incomes and small entrepreneurs in sustainability efforts. They also aim to address issues in the electricity grid and invest in innovations such as green hydrogen and CO2 storage. Additionally, the parties believe that the Netherlands must further adapt to climate change, such as prolonged droughts. The negotiators still need to clarify how all these plans will be funded.

There will be slight cuts to the Climate Fund and other subsidy schemes for sustainable energy. There will be no mandatory purchase of electric heat pumps, and the net metering scheme (the financial benefit for solar panels) will be abolished. The agreement is ambiguous regarding electric vehicles: the parties state they will continue to support their purchase but also want to end “subsidies.” However, the discount on motor vehicle tax for ‘heavier’ electric cars will remain. Interestingly, there will be a flight tax – a higher price for longer flights – starting in 2027.

Farmers May Determine How to Meet Climate Goals

The outline agreement contains “a lot of BBB influence,” said party leader Caroline van der Plas on Wednesday evening. In contrast, the VVD influence, such as that of outgoing minister Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen), is scarcely noticeable.

The new coalition wants to do “everything possible” to bend European agricultural and nature guidelines in favour of the agricultural sector. How realistic this remains to be seen; NSC and VVD, for instance, acknowledge that Europe is done with lenient manure rules for the Netherlands.

The four parties want to approach Brussels again to allow Dutch farmers to spread more animal manure. The reduced manure ceiling of 170 kilos of nitrogen per hectare must be removed from the European Nitrates Directive. The Netherlands aims to show that some natural regions are no longer vulnerable, and the number of Natura 2000 areas should be critically ‘re-evaluated.’ Nitrogen reduction will only occur where it is demonstrably necessary for the “maintenance” of “important nature.” The agreement does not mention ‘improvement,’ and it is unclear what constitutes essential nature.

All coalition parties desire a significant change: giving farmers more freedom to determine how to achieve climate, environmental, and natural goals. They call this putting the farmer in control.

Farmers, horticulturists, and fishermen should be “cherished.” Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality will be renamed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security, and Nature (LVVN). Food security also means security for the agricultural chain; high-quality agricultural land must be protected.

The four parties want to reverse the European ban on pulse fishing with trawl nets. Additionally, quick access to fishing grounds with space for fisheries should be provided—though it is unclear where these will be.

The coalition parties are not pushing for a “forced reduction” of livestock numbers, and there will be no “forced expropriation.” The outgoing Rutte-IV cabinet had already dropped this approach, leaving room for voluntary reduction. Farmer buyouts should focus primarily on outdated farms, and the term’ peak polluters’ is absent from this agreement.

Steps toward “more animal-friendly livestock farming” resemble the recent amendment to the Animal Act in the House of Representatives. Farmers will have time and can make their barns more animal-friendly when the barns are depreciated. These investments must be profitable for farmers; otherwise, the government must subsidize them or adjust the policy.

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