Climate and energy transition
The 1.5 Celcius challange
Climate change presents us with an enormous challenge. The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit global warming to no more than 1.5°C. The Netherlands is aiming to reduce its CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030 - 12 years away - compared to 1990. Citizens, businesses and governments will have to make a considerable effort to achieve this climate and energy transition. The 1.5° Celsius challenge.
The challenge is to make the energy supply more sustainable, for example by making homes natural-gas-free, connecting office buildings to geothermal energy systems and by taking energy-saving measures. But that's not all. Measures are also needed to promote optimum use/ reuse of raw materials and to protect the Netherlands against the negative effects of climate change.
To further shape this climate and energy transition, a National Climate and Energy Agreement is being concluded, a Climate Act is being prepared and legislation and regulations are being amended to facilitate this transition. The renewable energy projects already in place, which generate wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power, will be expanded. Innovative projects will also follow, for example aimed at the large-scale storage of renewable energy that has been generated. On this site you will find what you need to know about the legal aspects of the climate and energy transition.
Climate objective 2030
By 2030, the Netherlands is aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 49% compared to 1990. That is considerable. The Netherlands will probably have achieved some 24% CO2 reduction by 2020. A lot will therefore need to be done in a short time to achieve the 49% target. A large number of measures are already in preparation. For example, there is already a legislative proposal to ban the use of coal by power stations and there is a legislative agenda for energy transition. There is a good chance that your organisation will be affected by the radical measures needed to make this transition possible.
In order to achieve the emission reduction objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Cabinet will make provision for the large-scale realisation of wind and solar farms, the reduction of the number of gas connections in homes, the generation of soil energy (CHP and geothermal energy), the use of residual heat, stimulation of the use of electric vehicles and the reduction of CO2 emissions. The capture and storage of CO2 (CSS) is also seen as one of the options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These are topics that regularly arise in our practice.
From 1 July 2018, new homes will only be connected to gas in exceptional situations. Natural gas-free building is now the norm. Existing homes will also be closed off from the gas transport network. These developments offer opportunities and challenges for stakeholders, from construction and installation companies to housing corporations and governments. How do you get cooperation from connected residents and companies for this transition? And what are the alternatives to gas? Is residual heat from industry an option or (collective) CHPs, geothermal or all electric? We know that every project requires a 'tailor-made solution'.
In time, petrol and diesel will no longer be needed as fuel for cars, buses, scooters, trucks and ships. The mobility sector will need to emit 7.3 megatons less CO2 in 2030 than in 1990. This calls for a radical transition of our mobility policy and infrastructure. Solutions are being found in electric transport, the use of hydrogen and biofuels, the introduction and expansion of environmental zones, the development of charging infrastructure for electric cars, parking policy that stimulates the use of electric cars and the stimulation of public transport by realising light rail connections. Every day we support governments and companies in the implementation of such measures.
Subsidies and state support
Subsidy schemes will - for the time being - be an essential condition for the success of the climate and energy transition. The boundary between subsidy and prohibited state support is often narrow and should be given prior legal scrutiny to avoid possible problems afterwards. Pels Rijcken has extensive experience in designing subsidy schemes and assessing such schemes in the light of European law.
Raw materials are scarce. It is becoming increasingly important to use the raw materials available as efficiently as possible. Cities are taking waste prevention measures, for example by restricting the delivery of unaddressed printed advertising material. At the same time, the European Commission is working towards a more optimal use/reuse of raw materials, a ban on certain plastics and the collection of plastic products. All these measures should contribute to the transition to a circular economy and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How to shape and implement all this? We will be happy to discuss the solutions with you.
The Netherlands must prepare for the negative consequences of climate change, such as flooding and heat stress. Adaptation measures are needed. Examples include water squares and underground water storage facilities in cities, overflow areas near rivers and the strengthening and relocation of dikes. But we also need to protect our electricity, ICT and transport networks from the effects of climate change. These adaptation measures must fit within the legal frameworks of spatial planning, legal protection and network regulation. That is always a challenge.
Business Human Rights
Climate change clearly has an impact on human rights, for example because homes are flooded due to rainfall or because droughts cause harvests to fail. Companies, banks but also regulators often do not take climate risks and the impact they have on human rights into account, or not fully into account, in their risk analyses. For example, no or few provisions are made to mitigate these risks in contracts between companies or in bank financing. Moreover, companies, banks and governments can become involved in proceedings about not taking sufficient measures to combat climate change and its impact on human rights.
Our vision is that the climate and energy transition will require a combination of technological, organisational and legal measures. A lot is already possible in law. For example, the Crisis and Recovery Act already offers opportunities to experiment with new heat energy and other types of energy supplies, and the storage of renewable energy. Energy legislation (Gas Act, Electricity Act 1998, Heat Act and Mining Act) is also increasingly offering scope for renewable solutions.
The climate and energy transition will have a major impact on Dutch society. The necessary measures and projects require social and administrative sensitivity. We at Pels Rijcken offer this better than anyone, and we also have all the necessary legal expertise in-house.
Would you also like to take on the 1.5° Celsius Challenge? We would be happy to discuss this with you.