Netherlands Climate Resilience Policy Indicator

Part of Climate Resilience Policy Indicator
  • The Netherlands’ annual mean temperature rose 2.3°C between 1901 and 2020 and is likely to continue rising. Consequent shifts in heating and cooling demand could raise the risk of energy system disruptions, disturb thermal power plant operations and put stress on the electricity network.
  • Annual precipitation increased 21% from 1906 to 2020 and is projected to rise further. Extreme precipitation events could become more frequent and intense, amplifying flood risks.
  • The National Adaptation Strategy of the Netherlands lists energy as one of its nine priority sectors. The country’s Delta Programme identifies climate change impacts and risks and proposes specific actions for climate resilience in the energy sector, complementing the National Adaptation Strategy and national energy policies.

Level of floods, drought and tropical cyclones in the Netherlands, 2000-2020


Level of warming in the Netherlands, 2000-2020



The Netherlands’ average surface temperature increased 2.3°C between 1901 and 2020, and its rate of warming has been higher than the world average during the 20th century. Temperatures have been rising more rapidly in the spring than in winter, and the overall mean temperature is projected to be 1.4‑5°C higher at the end of the century than it was during the reference period (1995-2014).1 Increases in summer temperatures are expected to be stronger than for other seasons.

The Netherlands is also experiencing more frequent and intense heatwaves. Projections of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) show both average and yearly extreme temperatures increasing. The average temperature in 2050 could be 1-2.3°C higher than the 1981-2010 average, and maximum summer temperatures are also expected to increase.

Changes in average temperature are projected to affect energy demand for heating and cooling, reducing the number of heating degree days (HDDs) and increasing cooling degree days (CDDs). Climate change-induced shifts in energy demand are therefore expected to reduce winter energy consumption but raise electricity use in the summer. Since Dutch energy policy strongly aims to raise the share of electrification in buildings (from the current levels of 21% in the residential sector and 38% in the service sector), the projected increase in summer electricity demand for cooling could put pressure on the electricity grid.

The Netherlands has already been affected by disruptions due to heatwaves when some electricity distribution network components have overheated and failed, creating power outages. For instance, the heatwave of 2015 caused eight power outages in Amsterdam, with each outage lasting approximately 1.5 hours and cutting power to 400-800 households. Similarly, in the summer of 2020 some regions (including Friesland and Amsterdam) experienced power cuts due to heatwaves, which prompted the network operator Liander to upgrade parts of the Frisian electricity grid to increase resilience to extreme weather events.

Higher sea levels resulting from rising global temperatures may pose an additional threat to the Netherlands’ energy system. With global warming, water along the Dutch coast has risen 1.9 mm per year in the past 125 years. Since 50% of the country’s land area is less than one metre above sea level and 20% is actually below, accounting for the effects of a rising sea level and its potential impact on inland water levels will require spatial planning for energy infrastructure.

Temperature in the Netherlands, 2000-2020


Cooling degree days in the Netherlands, 2000-2020


Heating degree days in the Netherlands, 2000-2020



From 1906 to 2020, annual precipitation in the Netherlands increased 21%, and the number of extremely wet days rose about 70% between 1951 and 2019. The intensity of the most extreme showers has increased roughly 12%, with rising temperatures cited as one of the factors contributing to extreme precipitation events.

Climate change is also amplifying seasonal and annual variations in precipitation. Despite the overall increase in annual precipitation, summer rainfall has decreased. The Netherlands even experienced two significant droughts in the last two decades (in 2003 and 2018).

KNMI projections show that by 2050 annual mean precipitation could be 2.5-5.5% higher than during 1981-2010. The frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected to increase by 2050.

Projections also forecast much greater seasonal variation, with precipitation increasing by 3-17% in the winter and declining by up to 13% in the summer. Higher winter rainfall is expected to increase flood risks for the Rhine, the Meuse and other rivers, which could impact energy infrastructure, thermal and hydropower plant operations, and the delivery of transport fuels via inland shipping and roads. 

According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency’s impact analysis, the country’s National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) adopted in 20162 identifies the six most urgent climate risks and classifies them by their impacts on the economy, on people and on the environment. The Implementation Programme for 2018-2019 identifies the Netherlands’ climate risks and supports the NAS, and the February 2020 National Perspective on Climate Adaptation reports progress on implementing NAS measures and introduces guidelines for an NAS work programme for 2020 and beyond.

Since the NAS lists energy as one of its nine priority sectors, actions for energy system climate resilience are discussed briefly in the Implementation Programme 2018-2019 and the National Perspective on Climate Adaptation. The Implementation Programme broadly covers adaptation for infrastructure and the built environment, which are relevant to the energy system. The National Perspective on Climate Adaptation focuses on links between climate change adaptation and the energy transition, although it does not address the need for energy sector adaptation and resilience specifically.

Energy sector climate resilience has yet to be considered as a priority in the Netherlands’ national energy plans. Discussions in the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ 2017 Energy Agenda concentrate on climate change mitigation rather than climate resilience. Similarly, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 focuses primarily on climate change mitigation while introducing the NAS as “other national objectives and targets”.

The Delta Programme, a nationwide scheme to climate-proof the Netherlands and make it water-resilient by 2050, complements the NAS and national energy plans by proposing specific actions to build climate resilience into the country’s energy systems. The Delta Programme has been published every year since 2010, thanks to concerted efforts from the central government, provincial and municipal administrations, and NGOs under the auspices of the independent Delta Commissioner. It addresses a large number of potential of climate change impacts, such as sea level rise, increased rainfall and higher temperatures.

The 2015 Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation investigates the vulnerability of 13 key sectors (including electricity, gas, oil and nuclear energy) and recommends how to minimise climate change threats to the electricity and gas sectors. The Plan suggests that supervision of electricity sector risk management be improved for better adaptation to flood risks.

  1. According to IPCC climate scenarios SSP1-2.6 (up to 1.4°C higher), SSP2-4.5 (up to 3°C) and SSP5-8.5 (up to 5°C).

  2. The NAS will be updated in 2022.