Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Dutch court of appeals has upheld a 2015 ruling which demanded that the government cut CO2 emissions by 25% in five years.
Dutch appeals court upholds landmark climate change ruling
Netherlands ordered to increase emissions cuts in historic ruling that puts ‘all world governments on notice’
A court in The Hague has upheld a historic legal order on the Dutch government to accelerate carbon emissions cuts, a day after the world’s climate scientists warned that time was running out to avoid dangerous warming.
Appeal court judges ruled that the severity and scope of the climate crisis demanded greenhouse gas reductions of at least 25% by 2020 – measured against 1990 levels – higher than the 17% drop planned by Mark Rutte’s liberal administration.
The Dutch government has not decided whether to appeal the court’s decision yet, but opposition politicians are steeling themselves for the prospect.
Stientje Van Veldhoven, an MP and spokesperson for the D66 Liberal opposition in parliament noted that the government had yielded to a comparable, if more limited, ruling ending gas extraction in part of the giant Groningen gas fields earlier this year.
“The government has never ignored a court ruling like this one before, but there has never been a ruling like this before either,” she said. “Everybody has a right to appeal.” Veldhoven has requested a parliamentary debate on Wednesday’s court ruling.
There is a way the Dutch could fulfil its court obligations without breaking the bank – import electricity from China.
Back in 2016 the head of China’s national electricity grid outlined a plan to use ultra-high voltage DC cables to export Chinese coal powered electricity all the way to Germany – so exporting to the Netherlands, next door to Germany, doesn’t seem much of a stretch beyond China’s existing plans.
China looks to export surplus energy to Germany
Selling power to central Asia and beyond falls into Beijing’s ‘one belt, one road’ ambitions
China’s proposed investments in long-distance, ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission lines will pave the way for power exports as far as Germany, the head of the national power grid said on Tuesday as he launched an initiative for cross-border power connections.
Liu Zhenya, chairman of State Grid, told reporters that wind and thermal power produced in Xinjiang could reach Germany at half the current cost of electricity there. “There are so many resources, but no market. We need to find it externally.”
Although sending Chinese coal power thousands of miles to Europe would be ruinously inefficient in technical terms (potentially up to half the electricity would be lost in transmission), the electricity which made it all the way to Holland would still be cheaper than green electricity.
Sending Chinese electricity to Holland would provide Holland with affordable electricity, without China or Holland breaching their international climate commitments.
Under the terms of their Paris Agreement commitments China receives a free pass to generate as much coal power as they want until at least 2030 – so exporting electricity to Holland would not violate China’s Paris commitments.
By importing Paris Agreement sanctioned Chinese coal generated electricity, Holland would get to reduce their domestic CO2 emissions in compliance with the court order, at the cost of helping China to construct four and a half thousand miles of ultra high voltage DC transmission lines; expensive, but far less than the cost of trying to reliably generate 25% of their energy from renewables.