The Dutch parliament voted Thursday night to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015. Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change.
The Netherlands’ Liberal and Labour parties led the 77 to 72 vote on September 22, in favor of the 2030 emissions reduction goal. Parliament will next move to get the plan into effect. The decision comes on the heels of the discovery that the nation’s CO2 emissions have jumped 5 percent over the last year, which analysts blame on the three new coal-fired power plants. Turning away from coal power is the fastest and simplest method for drastically reducing emissions over time.
“Closing down big coal plants–even if they were recently opened–is by far the most cost effective way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement, and all countries will need to take such far-reaching measures,” the Dutch Liberal MP and vice president of the parliament, Stientje van Veldhoven, told the Guardian. “We cannot continue to use coal as the cheapest source of energy when it is the most expensive from a climate perspective.”
The most recent vote echoes the court order last year which demanded prime minister Mark Rutte’s government make climate change a bigger priority by cutting emissions 25-percent by 2020. That short-term goal is included in the measure approved last week. Opponents of the plan have argued that the Dutch coal plants are cleaner than those operating elsewhere in the world, and many are concerned that the leading candidate in March’s election for a new government would block the initiative. Supporters hope the current government will act quickly to move the plan forward, in an effort to secure a greener future for the nation—or at least delay the ill effects of the next administration.
Via The Guardian