On June 17, a Dutch court fined Shell $2.8 million for violating environmental and labor laws at its chemical plant in the village of Moerdjik. The court ruled that the company did not take sufficient precautions to prevent two explosions at the plant that injured two workers, and held that the company was liable for an ethylene oxide gas leak at the same plant. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/a4e35696a00f4e8790b1f61fdb32f116.
On January 25, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency published a report stating that the Netherlands' emissions reductions target for greenhouse gases—reducing emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020—which was confirmed last year by an appeals court, is "out of reach." The agency predicted that the reduction in 2020 will more likely amount to 21% compared with 1990. Dutch lawmakers approved new climate legislation last month that aims to reduce emissions by 95% by 2050, but a plan to achieve these goals has not been confirmed.
On December 6, a Dutch court ruled that the culling of hundreds of red deer in a wetland reserve north of Amsterdam could proceed. The 13,540-acre reserve, known as the Oostvaardersplassen, was created for wild birds but is also home to deer, horses, and cattle. Regional authorities hope to reduce the number of large grazing animals in the reserve to encourage more varied vegetation to grow. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/2011f9410cca49959d1303bd08f65203.
On October 5, the Dutch government announced that it would increase taxes on heavily polluting companies to help fund the country's climate goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent by 2030. The level of taxes imposed on carbon dioxide emissions for different industry sectors have not yet been proposed, but the government is aiming to reach an agreement by the end of the year. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-government-climatechange/….
The Netherlands launched an attempt to fund an offshore wind farm without subsidies. Only companies that require no support can participate. Companies can hand in bids for two slots available in the North Sea, each representing a 350 megawatt (MW) project, by Dec. 21. German success at limiting subsidies prompted the Dutch to go a step further and test this model. For the full story see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-windpower/dutch-test-the-…
The Dutch company Boogaerdt Hout was found guilty of violating the EU Timber Regulation by placing illegal Burmese teak on the EU market. An investigation has revealed the company placed illegally sourced teak from Myanmar on the European market, prompting the Dutch Food and Safety Authority to rule the company in breach of the EU Timber Regulation. The EUTR is part of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade action plan and aims to reduce illegal logging by banning the sale of illicitly sourced timber and timber products in the EU.
Last week, subsidies for renewable energy lost favor in both the Netherlands and Italy. Despite an announcement two weeks ago by the Dutch government on increasing subsidies for renewable energy projects (including solar, wind, and geothermal), the Ministry of Economic Affairs published an “Energy Agenda” last week saying renewable energy subsidies would be phased out as renewables become more economically competitive. However, the government intends to work with power companies to make it easier for individuals to invest in renewables.
On December 18, a Dutch appeals court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held liable for oil spills in Nigeria by its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC). Shell was ordered by judges in The Hague to provide the court with documents that clarify details about the oil spill, particularly its causes and whether those in charge were aware of them. This decision overturned a finding by a lower Dutch court in 2013 that Shell’s parent company could not be held liable for oil pollution by its Nigerian subsidiary.
The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.
A Dutch district court in The Hague ruled that the national government must reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than planned, a decision following a suit filed by the Urgenda Foundation, an environmental organization, on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens. The opinion declared that the state must cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. The country is currently on pace to be at 17% of 1990 levels by that year. To some observers the decision is a landmark ruling, especially if it withstands appeal.