On Saturday, the broken Dutch government announced a coalition of several leading parties and laid the road ahead for the future of the Netherlands. Apart from guaranteeing the EU’s national support and tax and immigration programs, the coalition said it wants all new cars to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. The coalition also called for the achieved a more aggressive overall—specifically, 49—percent reduction in national CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030, according to EU Observer.
The Netherlands is not the first country to float a fossil-fuel-burning car ban. France has said it wants to ban the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040, and China and the UK have followed suit (although China has not specified a time frame for its ban). California’s the governor has also floated the sheep that are out of the market for cars sold in the state.
The Netherlands, like France, also called for the closure of all coal plants within the country by 2030 and for increased use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to help the country reach its 49-percent CO reduction.2 reduction goals.
But achieving those numbers may be more difficult for the Netherlands than for other EU countries. In a 2014 overview of the country’s energy mix, the The International Energy Agency refused that the Netherlands “is one of the most fossil-fuel- and CO2– intensive economies among IEA member countries. ” According to the EU Observer, the CE Delft think tank recently came to the conclusion that it is “highly unlikely” that the Netherlands will be able to reach a 25-percent reduction in CO2 compared to 1990 levels by 2020. Germany, one of the European countries with the most aggressive emissions-reduction programs, reported earlier this year that while it was able to cut its emissions dramatically , transport- and heating-related emissions remained essentially unchanged. .
That suggests that a ban on polluting cars could help a country like the Netherlands get at least within striking distance of its emissions reduction goals.
However, there are skeptics that the zero emissions mandate can work. This week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra returned to the idea that states can only stop gas and diesel vehicle sales in the absence of consumer demand, according to The Detroit News. While Barra said GM is “very confident in the all-electric future,” he added that “at the end of the day you still have to make customers happy and you have to fill their needs.” GM has been growing its share of the EV market with the Chevrolet Bolt and the Plug In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) Volt. However, despite what appears to be a record year for electric vehicle (EV) sales according to Inside EVs, nearly 13 million new vehicles were sold in the first nine months of 2017, compared to 142,000 EVs.
However, the Netherlands is one of the leading countries in terms of EV market share—6.4-percent of its vehicles are electric. The country is also the poster child for how government tax incentives can drive growth. In 2016, incentives for PHEV vehicles were removed, but incentives for all-electric vehicles remained unchanged. Consequently, PHEV sales in the Netherlands tanked 50 percent in 2016, but EVs sales rose 47 percent.