Justice in climate policy more important than ever

Dutch society faces enormous challenges in the coming decades. Greenhouse gases must be reduced. We are going to make the country resistant to floods, heat and drought. In addition, we will also suffer from increasing damage as a result of increasingly more extreme weather. This comes at a cost. It is important that these climate costs are distributed fairly, argues the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), because an unjust distribution is disastrous for the support for any good climate policy, including the energy transition.

Enlarge image Uitsnede van omslag rapport Rechtvaardigheid in klimaatbeleid
Image: ©WRR

Although exact amounts cannot be estimated reliably. There is no doubt that these 'climate costs' will rise considerably in the near future. Policy measures are currently being intensified. And the effects of climate change will be felt more deeply than before.

Council member Suzanne Hulscher and staff members Annick de Vries and Victor Toom wrote an essay on this topic for Energeia, the platform for discussion and knowledge sharing in the energy sector. The essay was published on March 16th 2023.

Distribution of costs

The distribution of climate costs can be done in different ways. The WRR has identified a total of ten principles for fair distributions (see figure). These principles are based on literature on ethics and philosophy. Because a fair distribution of climate costs is important for public support, these principles must be explicitly considered when formulating climate policy. Do polluters have to pay for their emissions? Do people who are more sustainable deserve an allowance? Are citizens themselves responsible? Should everyone contribute the same amount or should the well-to-do contribute more?

Climate Policy

In the report Rechtvaardigheid in Klimaatbeleid: Over de verdeling van klimaatkosten (Justice in Climate Policy: The Distribution of Climate Costs), the WRR presents a total of ten principles for fair distributions. The WRR-report was published on 16 February 2023. The report is being rewritten to an international context and will be translated into English.