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Climate
A flood barrier in the Netherlands, a low-lying country vulnerable to climate change. Mischa Keijser / Cultura / Getty Images

Historic Climate Ruling Upheld by Dutch Appeals Court

A Dutch appeals court upheld a historic climate liability ruling Tuesday, affirming that the Dutch government has to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, The Associated Press reported.

The original ruling, decided in June 2015, was the first time a court found that governments had a legal obligation to their citizens to protect them from climate change, The Guardian reported at the time.

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The Netherlands Can Feed the World. Here’s Why It Shouldn’t

By Olga Mecking, Commentary

Recently, National Geographic published an article called This Tiny Country Feeds the World, where the author extolled the innovations of a small European country that has managed to become a global powerhouse in agriculture and technology—the Netherlands. Now the second biggest exporter in value of agricultural products after the U.S., the country has managed to cut down carbon emissions and its use of fertilizer and pesticides while implementing cutting-edge technology and increasing yields.

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Renewable Energy

World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Could Send Power to Five Countries

The Netherlands, famous for its iconic windmills, is planning to build the largest offshore wind farm on Earth by 2027.

The vision is so massive that the developers will have to construct a 2.3-square-mile artificial island in the North Sea to support the 10,000-turbine complex.

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The price of offshore wind energy has dropped significantly in recent years. Wikimedia Commons

Netherlands Launches Landmark Zero-Subsidy Wind Power Auction

The Netherlands has launched the world's first “zero subsidy" tender on Friday to build 700 megawatts of offshore wind. Shortly after the announcement, the country already found its first bidder.

Zero subsidy tenders have been labeled as a “game-changer" for the sector because it means that potential bidders would rely solely on wholesale electricity prices without financial aid from the government.

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Climate
Paris smog. Damián Bakarcic / Flickr

Two European Cities and a Whole Country Join Movement to Outlaw Gas Guzzlers

The movement to ban the internal combustion engine is growing.

The European cities of Paris, Oxford, as well as the whole of the Netherlands, have recently announced separate proposals to phase out cars powered by fossil fuels.

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World's Biggest Bike Parking Garage to Hold 12,500 Bikes

In the Netherlands, where there are 1.3 bikes per person, finding a parking space for a two-wheeler can be daunting.

To amend the situation, the country is building a massive, three-story bike parking garage beneath Utrecht's central train station. The first phase of the project will be able to hold 6,000 bikes, then another 6,500 spots will be added by the end of 2018.

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Dutch Trains Are World's First to Run on 100% Wind Power

The Netherlands, aka Windmill Country, is now operating 100 percent of its electric trains with wind energy.

As of Jan. 1, 600,000 daily train passengers have been traveling completely carbon neutral, according to an announcement from the Netherlands' principal passenger railway operator, NS.

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Dutch Parliament Votes to Shut Down All Coal Plants

As President Obama's signature Clean Power Plan heads to court, the Dutch parliament voted Thursday to shut down its entire coal industry. The move is needed in order for the country to meet its 2030 goal to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent.

Dutch parliament building in The Hague.Markus Bernet, Wikimedia

The action would put the Netherlands in position to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The 77 to 72 vote, while non-binding, comes on the heels of a recent confidential study, leaked to the Dutch newspaper Trouw, that one or more plants would have to be closed. The country has five coal plants currently in operation, including three that just came online last year. A recent five percent increase in emissions has been linked to its newest plants.

An overwhelmed Urgenda lawyer Cox after winning the historic Dutch climate case.Urgenda / Chantal Bekker

In June, 2015, a court in The Hague ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by 25 percent within five years. The unprecedented ruling came in a case brought by the Dutch Urgenda Foundation. In a transcript from the reading of the verdict, the court said: "The state must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment." The government has appealed the ruling.

In the leaked document, the consulting firm CE Delft said that the Dutch government would need to quickly close one or two power plants to meet the court's order. They concluded that closing the plants would impose lower costs to society than other alternatives to achieve the court-imposed emissions target. The report estimated that the average household would save 80 Euros ($90 at current exchange rates) a year, against costs of 30 Euros ($34). The Dutch economic ministry estimated that the cost of closing all the country's coal plants by 2020 would total 7 billion Euros ($7.9 billion).

Last year, five older coal-fired plants were decommissioned. Some environmentalists think that a coalition agreement could keep some or all of the three newer plants open. The issue has been contentious and is likely to affect next year's Dutch elections. The right-wing, populist Freedom Party, which may block the parliament's plan, currently leads many opinion polls.

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In the U.S., 94 coal plants were shut down last year, with another 41 expected to the shuttered in 2016. Aging plants and cheap natural gas are driving the transition from coal, even as 26 states are suing the federal government to overturn the Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit will hear oral arguments Sept. 27.

Even if the Clean Power Plan survives this challenge, a study published today in Nature Climate Change says that the U.S. will miss its 2025 carbon emissions target by a wide amount, as much as 1.5 billion metric tons per year. Nevertheless, "The study underscores the importance of EPA's Clean Power Plan for meeting the climate change promises," wrote Science this morning.

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