The Netherlands

   

Environmental Policies

#20
Key Findings
Showing declining public interest in environmental policy, the Netherlands falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 20) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points since 2014.

The country’s population has shown a decreasing sensitivity to environmental issues. While some increasing activity emerged following the Paris climate accord, there has been a clear shift toward climate adaptation rather than structural reforms.

Natural-gas reserves are diminishing quickly, with earthquakes and soil subsidence damaging homes where the reserves are located. Air and surface-water quality is worrisome in large part due to intensive farming and traffic congestion.

The government actively supports EU efforts in the development and advancement of global environmental regimes.

Environment

#34

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
5
Environmental policy is not a significant issue among the public in the Netherlands. The government has preferred to pursue quick policy wins, with structural reforms receiving insufficient attention. Climate policy has largely focused on medium-term targets, for example 2020 or 2030. Until the Paris Accords, the Dutch government resisted more ambitious climate goals in international negotiations. On 26 October 2016, the Department of Infrastructure and Environment organized a national climate “summit” between national and subnational governmental partners, non-governmental organizations and businesses to discuss implementation of the Paris Accords. Actual political commitments and policy change will only become visible after the election in spring 2017 and the subsequent cabinet formation process.

There is a clear policy shift toward climate adaptation. This appears manageable today because any adverse developments in the Netherlands will be gradual. The Netherlands’ natural-gas reserves are diminishing rapidly and will necessitate gas imports from 2025 onward despite decreasing demand. Meanwhile, earthquakes and soil subsidence are damaging houses in the northern provinces where the Dutch gas reserves are located. The government has introduced compensation measures for victims (still contested as too small).

The quality of air and surface water in the Netherlands is concerning, with intensive farming and traffic congestion the primary causes of concern. Half of rivers, canals and lakes contain too much nitrogen and phosphates. Air pollution, especially particular matter in the region around Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague, is among the highest in Europe, and the concentrations of ozone and nitrogen dioxide are linked to premature deaths.

Although the Netherlands is praised as a pioneer in the area of mapping and assessing ecosystems and their management, and on developing a natural capital accounting systems, significant problems remain. The most serious problems involve habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, desiccation and acidification. Over the last 25 years, about 140 species inhabiting the North Sea have suffered a 30% decline, mainly due to recently forbidden commercial fishing techniques.

Citations:
The EU Environmental Implementation Review Country Report - THE NETHERLANDS, February 2017

PBL, 2014, Nationale Energieverkenning 2014 (pbl.nl)

PBL, 3 June 2015, “Transitie naar schone economie in 2015 vergt scherpere klimaatdoelen voor 2030” (pal.nl. consulted 26 October 2015)

Algemene Rekenkamer, Rapport Stimulering van duurzame energieproductie (SDE+). Haalbaarheid en betaalbaarheid van beleidsdoelen, 16 April 2015 (rekenkamer.nl, consulted 26 October 2015)

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/10/30/cbs-30-procent-minder-zeedieren-in-noordzee-a1579244 (consulted 2 november 2017)

“De rechter verplichtte de staat tot meer klimaatactie. Wat is er met het vonnis gebeurd?,” Jelmer Mommers, in De Correspondent, 17 September 2015.

WRR-Policy Brief 5, Klimaatbeleid voor de lange termijn: van vrijblijvend naar verankerd, October 2016
Ecofys, De impact van de Nationale Klimaattop 2016 in kaart, 26 October 2016

Global Environmental Protection

#12

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
6
The Dutch government has traditionally been a strong supporter of EU leadership in the Kyoto process of global climate policy and advancing global environmental protection regimes. It has also signed related international treaties on safety, food security, energy and international justice. The government keeps aspiring to a coherent sustainability policy or a “policy agenda for globalization.” The government sees resource and energy scarcity, transborder disease control, climate change, transborder crime and international trade agreements as the great global issues.

As an immediate response, climate change is addressed mainly as a mitigation effort, for example, through the Dutch Risk Reduction Team, offering assistance and expertise to water-related risk areas around the globe. A coherent globalization policy also means research and monitoring of the undermining impacts of one policy on other policies. In spite of this intention, Dutch reassessment of development aid appears to favor bilateral over multilateral global sustainability policy. For example, the financing of Dutch initiatives in advancing global public goods is no longer separately budgeted but is instead part of the diminishing development aid budget.

Military aspects have been added to the International Safety Budget, which previously contained only diplomatic and civic activities. Though defense spending in response to the revival of NATO in Europe and the threats of ISIS in the Middle East will increase from €220 million to €345 million between 2016 and 2020. As mentioned under the previous indicator (P16), it is likely that the Paris Climate Accords will trigger new Dutch policy initiatives for global environmental protection.

Citations:
Kabinetsreactie op het WRR-rapport: Minder pretentie, meer ambitie (2010) (www.eerstekamer.nl/id/vimdknvvxtfz/document-extern/briefmp110112)

Additional reference:
http://www.aiv-advies.nl/ContentSuite/upload/aiv/file/webversie_AIV%2084_NL.pdf

Rijksbegroting 2016 Defensie (rijksoverheid.nl, consulted 8 November 2016)
https://www.rvo.nl/subsidies-regelingen/dutch-risk-reduction-team-drr-team
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