Climate regulations: keep track of the rules

The climate is changing rapidly. The government is imposing measures that affect you as an entrepreneur. How do you keep track of the rules, and avoid a fine, or even having to close an office? Find out what lies ahead, and which subsidies and tax schemes can help you make your business more sustainable.

The government wants to cut back on the use of natural gas, and encourage the use of renewable energy. It also focuses on promoting the circular economy. By 2030, we must be able to reuse half of all the materials we use today. By 2050, the government wants the Dutch economy to be fully circular (in Dutch): nothing going to waste.

The CO2 emissions must be down by half in 2030, compared to 1990; and by 95% in 2050. The National Climate Agreement lists all the measures that need to be taken in the next 10 years to realise the CO2 reduction targets.

1. Energy-saving buildings

These are the rules that have come into effect:

  • The Almost Energy Neutral Building requirements (in Dutch), or BENG, lays down stricter rules for the energy use of new builds.
  • New energy labels (in Dutch) are in place for commercial and industrial buildings – in effect, all buildings except housing. The energy label indicates how energy-efficient a building is.
  • If the size of your office building is 100 m2 or more, it has to meet the energy label C requirements by 2023. There are exceptions to this obligation. You can find them in this RVO infographic (pdf, in Dutch).
  • Do you use more than 50,000 kWh in electricity, or 25,000 m3 of natural gas? You will need to take energy-saving measures, and recover the costs of these measures within 5 years. There are different requirements for different business sectors (in Dutch).

Subsidies and tax schemes

Sustainable energy investment subsidy(ISDE)

The ISDE subsidy no longer only applies to heating pumps or solar boilers to heat your (business) premises sustainably. And for small-scale power generation, using solar panels and windmills.

Energy Investment Allowance (EIA)

The EIA allows you to deduct 45% of the investment costs for energy-saving measures from your taxable profit on your income or corporate tax return.

2. Renewable energy

The government has increased the Sustainable energy surcharge (ODE) for 2021 and 2022. This means that if you use the same amount of fossil fuels, you will pay more energy tax.

In addition, the new EU rules for lowering pellet stove emissions will come into force in 2021 in the Netherlands, and not in 2022, as was the original plan.

Subsidies and tax schemes

Sustainable Energy Transition subsidy scheme (SDE++)

If you generate renewable power or use techniques to reduce CO2 emissions, you may be eligible for the Sustainable Energy Transition subsidy scheme SDE++. The scheme opens for a short period each year, so keep an eye out. In 2021, it will be expanded with additional techniques, for example for greenhouse companies.

Subsidy scheme Improving Sustainability for SMEs (SVM)

The subsidy scheme Improving Sustainability for SMEs (SVM) allows you to hire the services of an energy advisor. It also supports the execution of 1 or more of the energy advisor’s recommendations.

3. Reusing raw materials

Reusing materials starts with the correct separation of waste. Since March 2021, new rules are in place. Check the company waste separation tool to see which types of waste your company has to separate.

Since July, there is a deposit on small plastic bottles, as well as a ban on the sale of single-use plastics.

From 2023, textile manufacturers will be responsible for residual waste of their products and production.

Subsidies and tax schemes

The Dutch National Fund for Green Investments (Groenfonds)

The Dutch National Fund for Green Investments finances projects that contribute to the circular economy. The focus is on profitable projects that aim for a closed recycling loop and less waste, and on innovative projects that contribute to a biobased economy.

Subsidy circular chain projects

The subsidy for circular chain projects reopens in 2021. This may be of interest to you, if you and other businesses want to invest in reusing materials. This might also be the case if you choose a circular product or business model.

DEI+ circular economy

The Demonstration Energy Innovation + subsidy is open to businesses that recycle waste, reuse materials, or use biobased resources.

4. Eco-friendly driving

‘Green driving’, which means without harmful emissions, has been a focal point for the Dutch government for years. The subsidies and schemes you can use change every year. These are the schemes available now:

Subsidies and tax schemes

Subsidy scheme for zero emission commercial vehicles (SEBA)

If you buy a new, zero emission company car, you can apply for a subsidy of 10% of the purchase price under the subsidy scheme for zero emission commercial vehicles.

Lower added taxable income for solar vehicles

If you use company vehicles that are powered by solar energy, you may lower the amount of added taxable income in your corporate income return.

Added taxable income for other vehicles increased

The reduction of added taxable income for electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles has been lowered from 14 to 10%.

No motor vehicle tax (mrb)

In 2021, electric-powered vans do not have to pay motor vehicle tax. This scheme remains unchanged.

Higher motor vehicle tax for fossil fuel vehicles

If you drive a fossil fuel powered vehicle, your motor vehicle tax has increased per 1 January 2021. The increase depends on the weight of your vehicle. On average, you pay €24 per year extra. The excise duty for diesel fuel has gone up by 1 eurocent.

5. Nitrogen and PFAS regulations

The government has not yet announced its rules for the use and transport of soil that contains polyfluor alkyls or perfluoralkyls (PFAS, in Dutch). It will only be possible to define a definitive framework of rules once a number of relevant studies have been concluded. Until then, construction and dredging companies can make use of a temporary framework called ‘het tijdelijk handelingskader’ (in Dutch).

The measures to reduce nitrogen emissions mostly affect agricultural, industrial, construction, and traffic businesses.

Subsidies and tax schemes

Tax schemes

If you replace or adapt company assets and so reduce your nitrogen emissions, you can make use of several tax schemes.

6. Reduce CO2 emissions in production

Since 1 January 2021, a national CO2 levy is in place for large industrial companies that take part in the European emissions trading system (ETS). The levy also applies to waste incineration installations, and to companies emitting large quantities of nitrous oxide.

Subsidies and tax schemes

Energy Investment Allowance EIA

The EIA allows you to deduct 45% from your taxable profit when you invest in CO2 reduction or energy-saving technology.

7. Sustainable shipping

Shipping companies need to take into account stricter rules when they build new vessels. For example, the reduction of nitrogen emissions, providing insight in energy use, and cleaning ballast water.

Inland vessels will be banned from the degassing of residual benzene and engine fuel vapours while sailing. They will have to use an appointed degassing installation. The date this ban enters into force is not yet known.

Subsidies and tax schemes

Sustainable Shipbuilding Subsidy Scheme SDS

Receive up to 25% subsidy with this scheme to build or renovate your ship in a sustainable way. You can apply until 1 October 2021.

Other schemes

  • The Vamil tax scheme allows you to depreciate business assets at a moment of your choice, maximising your tax benefit.
  • Use the MIA tax scheme to deduct 36% from your taxable profit.
  • The Energy savings explorer (in Dutch) helps you find ways of saving energy in your premises. For example, isolation and ventilation, or types of glazing.
  • The Green projects scheme can help you get funding from banks if you invest in environmental projects or construction. If you have a ‘groenverklaring’ (green declaration, in Dutch) you may be eligible for a lower interest rate.
  • Find all sustainability-related subsidies on
  • Use the MKB Klimaatwerk digital tool (in Dutch) to find out which measures and schemes apply to your business sector, as a result of the National Climate Agreement.
  • The measures in the National Climate Agreement have different consequences for different business sectors. The ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy studied the financial impact on companies in different sectors.