"Ambitious" Dutch energy policies win praise

International Energy Agency commends "determined, prudent yet flexible" approach

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has lauded the Netherlands for its efforts to balance environmental and free market objectives in energy policies. The government's "determined, prudent and yet flexible" approach is showing that energy markets can be liberalised while simultaneously addressing climate change, energy efficiency and renewables, the IEA says in its 2000 review of Dutch energy policy.

Evidence of commitment to environmental improvements is shown by the country's detailed planning for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, according to the IEA. The government has developed a basic set of measures backed by a reserve package if the basic one does not yield the required results, plus another package for the period after 2010.

Dutch willingness to adjust policies in the light of experience also wins praise. A plan to make purchasing of green certificates for renewably produced electricity compulsory was dropped when it emerged that the consumers were willing to pay extra voluntarily. The government developed policies to cut emissions of all six Kyoto protocol-controlled greenhouse gases when it became clear in the mid-1990s that its carbon dioxide target would be difficult to meet.

Meanwhile, the IEA notes approvingly, the Netherlands is among the European leaders in opening up its electricity and gas markets to competition, with full liberalisation now brought forward from 2007 to 2004.

Dutch environmental achievements are likely to fall short of the country's "ambitious" targets, the IEA suggests. It notes that government forecasts currently suggest that renewable will supply 3% of electricity by 2010 rather than the 5% targeted. Energy efficiency improvements have also been slower than desired, mainly due to low energy prices. The Netherlands is only planning to achieve half of its committed 6% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2008-2012 at home.

Follow Up:
IEA, tel: +33 1 40 57 65 51. Energy Policies of IEA Countries - {The Netherlands}, {2000 Review}.

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