Towards National Legislation for Climate Protection
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Marjan Peeters, Mark Stallworthy and Javier de Cendra de Larragán
Chapter 15: The Dutch focus: a Delta Act for climate adaptation
Compared with other EU member states, the Netherlands has embarked on a different course in dealing with the climate change issue by recently prioritizing adaptation above mitigation in both legal and financial respects. To begin with, the Netherlands was one of the first countries in the world to put the climate change issue on the national and international political agenda, which resulted in an evolving climate policy. The emphasis in the early days was primarily on mitigation as the expectation was that if mitigation was undertaken seriously there would be less need for adaptation. In 1989, the Netherlands adopted a national target for stabilizing CO2 emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels in its National Environmental Policy Plan. This target was strengthened to a stabilization target by 1994–95 at 1990 levels in the National Environmental Policy Plan Plus. In 1991, the government adopted targets for other greenhouse gases in its policy document on climate change (Nota Klimaatverandering).4 However, these policy documents were not legally binding; they specified political aspirations and the targets set had to be taken into account in decision making but were not mandatory. Over the years, it became clear that there was limited support from other ministries and from society at large for the targets set. In line with this lack of support, the Dutch government decided to no longer aim for a leadership role in the mitigation field.
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