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New Dutch coalition to set ambitious energy, climate targets: VEMW


Rutte III coalition to set 49% CO2 cut target for 2030

VEMW energy industry lobby says targets are 'very ambitious'

Coal exit by 2030, return of CO2 tax, CCS targets also on agenda

The Netherlands' new government coalition, to be finalized this week following elections in March, will set ambitious energy and climate targets, according to the Dutch energy consumer lobby VEMW.

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According to a VEMW statement Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's new coalition will set a new target to cut CO2 emissions by 49% over 1990 levels by 2030.

The new Rutte III Cabinet plans to introduce a climate law with legally accountable goals that should give "confidence in the future," the lobby group said.

The new measures set out in the coalition agreement also include targets for carbon capture and storage, with Dutch industry requested to capture and collect 18 million mt of CO2 via CCS by 2030, it said.

"A very big goal, considerably more than what's considered feasible in the VEMW study -- based on McKinsey research," the lobby group said.

According to the VEMW, the coalition agreement also states that electricity companies are subject to a CO2 tax, adding that there remains uncertainty on the effects of such a tax on the electricity price and whether and how energy-intensive industry will be compensated for the consequences.

Regarding renewables, the VEMW only stated that the Dutch SDE + subsidy scheme is broadened from the goal of reducing CO2 to promoting renewable energy, with other press reports saying the new government wants to increase its offshore wind targets. The VEMW statement, however, cited a plan by the coalition for newly built homes not to get a gas connection anymore.

On a potential coal exit, the new Cabinet's plans include the closure of at least one coal-fired power station of the remaining two older units during the legislative period, with a complete coal exit to be set for 2030.

Pressure to close Dutch coal plants earlier than planned remained high despite the Green Party dropping out of coalition talks in the summer, with Rutte's VVD party last year losing a parliamentary vote calling for a coal phaseout.

In January, economy and energy minister Henk Kamp -- who will step down once the new government is officially formed -- noted improved progress in cutting emissions and said there would be no need to shut more coal plants.

The Dutch state has increased subsidies to ramp up its wind portfolio from 4.2 GW at the end of 2016 to over 10 GW in the early 2020s.

--Andreas Franke,
--Edited by Jason Lindquist,