This is the second Clingendael Policy Brief on climate policy development in the Netherlands. The first 'Are the Dutch going Green' was published in January 2019 and dealt with the political context and policy proposals made between autumn 2017 and the end of 2018.
This policy brief focuses on the most recent developments until mid-September 2019. During this period the Dutch Parliament adopted a Climate Bill, provincial elections were won by a climate-sceptical party, and political agreement was reached on a comprehensive package of climate policies: the national Climate Agreement.
This agreement, referred to as the ‘biggest refurbishment of the Netherlands since the Second World War’, was pre-cooked in an extensive negotiating process between government and civil society. The policies target especially the industrial, energy, transportation, housing and agriculture sectors. A key element of the societal debate focused on the costs of climate policies and how they should be allocated. In order to hammer out a political deal, the Dutch government had to change key assumptions of its constituting coalition agreement of 2017, and adjust some of the proposals developed by civil society, notably those favoured by industry.
A lesson learned from the Dutch case is that setting ambitions may be relatively easy, but translating them into effective climate action is a tougher job, particularly when political decisions have to be taken on who will pay for what.