AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government is lagging far behind on its climate goals and will, need to take immediate action in order to meet legally required improvements, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) warned on Friday.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020 in the Netherlands, one of the most polluting countries in Europe, are expected to be 21 percent lower than in 1990, the agency said, despite a court order to reduce them by 25 percent.
The new calculations put the government in a tight spot, as it is already struggling to generate support for measures needed to reach its ultimate goal of halving CO2 emissions by 2030 and banning them altogether by 2050.
The court order to step up the fight against climate change has increased the pressure on the government to immediately shut down at least two of five coal-fired energy plants.
Current plans call for two to be shut in 2024 and the other three by 2030.
Shutting two immediately would cost hundreds of millions of euros and deliver just half of the CO2 reduction required.
Further savings would need to come from energy saving measures such as lowering speed limits, improving home insulation and raising energy prices, experts have said.
The government in October said it would implement the court order, but in recent days politicians have expressed doubts about the expensive, and often unpopular, measures that would be needed to do this at such short notice.
A government spokesman could not immediately respond to the new calculations on Friday.
Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Jason Neely