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Cabinet wants to steer horticulture itself towards lower emissions with policy

The horticulture sector will meet the emission target of 4.3 megatons in 2030. The government, pointing to its own policy, is convinced of this. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is less sure. This is evident from the latest Climate and Energy Outlook (KEV). This takes an annual look at whether the Netherlands is on course to meet climate targets.

For horticulture, the question last year was: What will depress horticulture's emissions the most, the high gas price or the additional Hague policy?

That policy has come (just think of the tax plans and the energy-saving obligation), but because it has not yet passed through all political layers and a new cabinet has to be elected, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is keeping a wary eye on 2023. Rightly so, because between the writing of the report and publication, for instance, an extension until 2035 of the phase-out path for the reduced horticultural tariff on natural gas has been proposed. KEV 2023 still states that the fiscal measures will be "fully implemented" by 2030. The proposed longer phase-out path is offset by a carbon tax.

In 2022, PBL did not want to start calculating because the policy was 'not yet concrete enough.' To some extent, this is still the case.

Contribution horticulture
For agriculture as a whole, including horticulture, PBL estimates that in 2030, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced to a level of 19 to 22 megatons of CO2 equivalents. This is 1.6 megatons lower than the 2022 KEV. According to the calculators, horticulture accounts for about 0.5 megaton decrease, livestock and arable farming for about 1 megaton.

In the KEV, we read: "The estimated reduction comes mainly from the effect of the following plans: the limitation of the energy tax exemption on natural gas input for cogeneration plants, subsidy for energy saving in horticulture from the energy saving scheme (EC scheme), and the new derogation decision from the Nitrates Directive (containing an
annual phasing-out of the derogation and additional conditions). Furthermore, the estimated reduction is due to the effects of some cessation schemes in the KEV 2023, as adjusted in the
livestock sector. In addition, new schemes have been included, such as the National cattle farming cessation scheme with peak load (Lbv-plus)."

Energy crisis
In 2022, according to PBL, emissions in agriculture fell "sharply" (see table above, down 2.7 megatonnes from 2021), mainly thanks to lower natural gas consumption in horticulture. The sector used 25-30 percent less natural gas and less electricity (over 30 percent less). Indeed, the sector was heating more economically and also lighting less.

After doing the necessary calculations, and despite uncertainties about policy in The Hague (as indicated by Europe), PBL concluded that 'the (residual) emission target of 4.3 megatons from the spring package is within the range, but that it is still uncertain whether this target will be met'. Read the entire KEV 2023 here (NL).

Climate note
In the Climate Note published simultaneously with the KEV, the government is more firm. In the Climate Memorandum, the cabinet accounts for its climate policy, looks back at the past year's progress in implementation, and compares it with the (European and national) targets for 2030. Climate and Energy Minister Jetten came to present the paper in the House of Representatives in person on Thursday, 26 October, the day of the important vote on the 'Fiscal Measures for Horticulture Act.'

"According to estimates, the greenhouse horticulture sector will meet the sector target of 4.3 Mton CO2 equivalents in 2030 by reducing gas consumption," the note read. The government also wants to get the sector towards that target itself through policy, not circumstance. The paper also explicitly states that. "Fiscal measures such as phased abolition of reduced gas rate energy taxes on horticulture, phased limitation of the exemption from energy taxes on taxation on natural gas-fired cogeneration units, energy conservation, and incentives, among others, contribute to achieving the goal. Read the entire Climate Note here (NL).

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