Important step towards an Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth

On 12 July 2013, the Netherlands took a huge step towards a clean future. Representatives of civil society and environmental organisations, employers’ associations and trade union federations, and the Dutch Government have negotiated the broad outlines of an Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth. The details will be worked out in the next few weeks and the results of the calculations submitted to the various parties involved. The final agreement should cover such subjects as energy efficiency, clean technology and climate policy. Once the plans have been implemented, they should lead to an affordable and clean supply of energy, more jobs, and better opportunities for the Netherlands in the clean technology market.

Powerful incentive
The broad outlines on which the parties now agree offer a solid basis for incentivizing the economy and will contribute significantly to achieving a climate-neutral energy supply in 2050. Once finalised, the agreement will generate billions of euros in investment, resulting in thousands of extra jobs. The business community will boost its competitiveness and create opportunities for innovation, export and new business. The public, businesses and civil society organisations will be encouraged to insulate housing and generate their own energy from renewable sources, resulting in lower energy bills. Putting more emphasis on cost efficiency and giving the country more time to obtain 16% of its energy from renewable sources will also considerably ease the tax burden on the public and businesses imposed by the government coalition agreement.

Huge reduction in CO2 emissions
The Netherlands has joined other countries in working towards a wholly sustainable supply of energy by 2050. Europe-wide agreements have been made to speed up the rate of CO2 reduction after 2020 en route to an overall CO2 reduction of 80 to 95% in 2050 compared with 1990. To achieve this target cost-effectively, it is vital that the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) should undergo structural improvement in 2020. The parties will work together in Brussels to achieve this.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy
The parties envisage a broad package of energy-efficiency measures. When implemented, they will ensure that the Netherlands satisfies the EU target of reducing energy consumption by 1.5% per year and should generate thousands of extra jobs, particularly in the construction sector.

A revolving fund for energy efficiency in the built environment will be set up in late 2013. The fund will enable groups of individuals to undertake profitable energy-saving measures. They can also gain funding through their energy bill. In addition, measures will be considered that encourage and support more rapid advances in energy efficiency in the business sector. Large enterprises will make company-specific agreements in this regard.

Other agreements will allow the parties to achieve the 16% sustainable energy target more cost-effectively and at a later point in time. This should boost investor confidence, create jobs and encourage innovations that will help improve the competitiveness of Dutch businesses. The Renewable Energy Incentive Scheme plus (SDE+) will remain the most important incentive measure for stimulating investment in large-scale renewable sources of energy. The cost of offshore wind energy is falling because businesses are investing in innovation, giving them a chance to compete effectively in global markets. Capital is being invested in onshore wind energy, within frameworks agreed with regional governments and with more options for public participation.

Attractive tax breaks will be available to groups of citizens who set up cooperative ventures to generate their own energy from renewable sources. Banks and investors have also agreed to improve the basis for funding large-scale renewable energy projects. The approach that has now been agreed will allow the Netherlands to derive 16% of its energy from renewable sources in 2023, and to meet the EU’s 14% target in 2020.

Provided that a number of conditions are satisfied, energy companies will shut down old coal-fired energy plants constructed in the 1980s. This will limit the possibility of generating sustainable energy by co-firing biomass in these plants.

Innovation, export and jobs
The parties have agreed to work towards putting the Netherlands in the top ten of the Global Cleantech Innovation Index by 2020. The Cleantech Innovation Index ranks the countries of the world on indicators related to clean technology innovation. In order to achieve this ranking, the parties will, as far as possible, align themselves with the approach taken in the Netherlands’ energy sector (identified by the Dutch government as a key economic sector) and work with other key economic sectors. Innovation is very important to maintaining international competitiveness and to reducing the cost of clean technology. The measures and broad outlines now agreed will generate thousands of extra jobs a year. The parties are also negotiating agreements on good quality employment (in line with the Social Agreement between the Government, employers’ associations and trade union federations) and on retraining and additional training.

Follow up
The negotiating parties are employers' associations, trade union federations, the Dutch Government, the environmental movement and many civil society organisations.

The Social and Economic Council is facilitating the negotiating process. In the next several weeks, the parties will work out the details of the relevant measures and submit the results of their calculations to the various parties involved. The calculations will specifically examine the impact of measures on energy consumption and the climate, on the economy, on the tax burden and purchasing power, and on employment. Based on the consultations, calculations and plans, the parties will reach their final decision in late August.

There is general consensus that all the parties will be responsible for implementing the provisions of the agreement. Each of the parties involved has its part to play in this respect. The national government will take the initiative in developing, implementing and evaluating the policy measures set out in the agreement. 

Note for editors
For more information, contact:
Janneke Doornebal: +31 (0)70 3499 646, +31 (0)6 1848 1869,
Mariek de Valk, +31 (0)70 3499 648,