Report: Dutch emissions cut target 'out of reach'

January 25, 2019 - 8:36 am

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An environmental research institute said Friday that the Netherlands isn't doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions to levels ordered in a landmark court ruling.

The Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency said in a report that the target, confirmed last year by an appeals court, of reducing emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 is "out of reach."

The agency says that the reduction next year will likely amount to 21 percent compared with 1990, although it says it could be anywhere between 17 and 24 percent.

Last month, Dutch lawmakers approved ambitious new climate legislation that targets a 95-percent reduction of emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, and a 49-percent cut by 2030.

However, a plan to achieve the goals hasn't been confirmed and environmental groups and labor unions walked out of talks aimed at hammering out a package of measures.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the findings showed that "new measures are necessary" and said the government would make more announcements in April.

"The goal is to achieve this target," Rutte said.

Rob Jetten, the parliamentary leader of D66, one of the parties in Rutte's four-party coalition, urged swift action.

"There's no time to lose," he tweeted, "The Cabinet has to get to work."

The Netherlands isn't the only Northern European country grappling with the issue.

The five Nordic nations said Friday they will step up joint efforts to combat climate change.

In a declaration signed following a meeting in Helsinki, the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland said they're committed to "working toward carbon neutrality" but gave no date for achieving that goal.

Finland's environment minister, Kimmo Tiilikainen, said the five countries will set tougher emissions targets by 2020.

He said they would also use an upcoming U.N. climate summit in New York this September to encourage other countries to set more ambitious emissions goals.

Tiilikainen noted that the wealthy Nordic nations want to take the lead "because we can."

The efforts will also include developing low-emissions technology and ways to remove carbon dioxide — a major greenhouse gas — from the atmosphere.

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Associated Press reporter Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.