Welcome to the Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index, where Earth.Org examines the policies and actions regarding the environment of every nation on earth. Combining the most respected global indexes on pollution, climate change, policy, energy, oceans, biodiversity we have produced an overall Global Index, which will be updated annually. This is the Global Sustainability Index scorecard for the Netherlands.

The Dutch government has endeavoured to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030, and are working towards carbon neutrality by 2050, along with the rest of the EU. These goals are laid down in the Climate Act on May 28 2019. The Climate Plan, the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the National Climate Agreement contain the policy and measures to achieve these climate goals. The government is required to draw up a Climate Plan setting out measures to ensure that the targets stipulated in the act are achieved. The National Climate Agreement contains agreements with the sectors on what they will do to help achieve these climate goals. The participating sectors are: electricity, industry, built environment, traffic and transport, and agriculture.

In April 2020, the Dutch government announced a set of climate policies designed to reduce annual carbon emissions by nearly 10 megatons; several new coal power plants are to be closed or run at minimum capacity, a €3bn spending package will subsidise renewable energy projects and home refits, and there are a number of policy adjustments, for example on livestock numbers, reforestation and lowering the national speed limit.

While this is no doubt a positive step, the government had little choice; a court case brought by environmental groups in 2014 and upheld by the supreme court last year forced the government to act to reduce emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by the end of 2020. This is the first climate change case that has forced the government to enact policy, and sets a precedent for future similar cases. 

The annual additional costs for the Netherlands associated with the Climate Agreement are less than 0.5% of GDP in 2030. The country should be able to afford this transition. 

Global Sustainability Index scorecard for the Netherlands

●   The Netherlands have aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels), and a 95% reduction by 2050.

●   The National Climate Agreement, concluded in June 2019, aims to share the costs of the transition fairly between individuals and businesses. The annual costs represent less than 0.5% of GDP in 2030.

●   A case brought to the Supreme Court ruled that climate change could have impacts on the rights to life and well-being of Netherlands’ citizens. The government was therefore instructed to achieve 25% reduction by the end of 2020.

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Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index Ranking image description: Netherlands Rankings – Policy: 36, Pollution: 18, Climate Change: 29, Oceans: 41, Biodiversity: 186, Energy: 13, Earth.Org Global Sustainability Index Ranking 13.