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Government Dialogue Best Practice: The Netherlands Environmental Prices Handbook


The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment funded the Handbook Environmental Prices 2017, which lists monetary valuation of the social costs of pollution for over 2,500 pollutants into water, air and soil.

Environmental prices are constructed prices for the social cost of pollution, expressed in Euros per kilogram of pollutant. Environmental prices indicate the loss of economic welfare that occurs when one additional kilogram of the pollutant finds its way into the environment.

The organization/ department in brief

In 2016, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment was aware of the growing role that financial valuation of environmental impacts were playing in societal processes. Valuation of environmental impacts is widely used both in Social Cost-Benefit Analysis and by companies. In conjunction with the update of the Guidelines for Social Cost Benefit Analysis, the Ministry tendered research into the valuation of environmental impacts. CE Delft had won this tender and conducted research on the valuation of environmental impacts between January 2016 and May 2017 resulting in the so-called Handbook Environmental Prices 2017, which lists monetary valuation of the social costs of pollution for over 2,500 pollutants into water, air and soil.

Why was this undertaken?

This exercise was undertaken for two major reasons:

a) The revision of the Guidelines for Social Cost-Benefit analysis in the Netherlands required an updated handbook on how to value environmental impacts;

b) There was growing use of concepts like true value, true prices or true costs, by companies but a harmonized and transparent valuation method was lacking.

What was the scope?

The Handbook Environmental Prices determines the relationship between environmental impacts at the midpoint (or environmental mechanisms) and at the endpoint level (or impact category).

At the midpoint level, the handbook distinguishes impacts on: Ozone depletion; Climate change; Particulate matter formation; Photochemical oxidant formation; Acidification; Eutrophication; Human toxicity; Ecotoxicity; Ionizing radiation; Nuisance (noise and visual nuisance); Extraction (land use).

At the endpoint level, the handbook distinguishes impacts on: human health (morbidity and mortality), ecosystems (biodiversity and productive services), materials and buildings, nuisance and resource availability (not quantified).

What was the role of the Government?

The government acted both as a funder and as a reviewer in the steering committee which included scientists from the governmentally funded research organizations, including Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the Bureaus for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB).

What were the results?

The main results are:

  • Handbook Environmental Prices 2017
  • A lookup tool to be used for looking up specific values of specific pollutants, categorized by pollutant code (CAS code). A range of values is provided, including: lower, central and upper values.
  • A workshop among policy makers and companies held in July 2017;

Both the report and the tool can be found here.

Next steps

As a next step, the values of the Handbook Environmental Prices, which currently apply to the Dutch situation, will be calculated as EU averages. In future work, more detailed assessment can be made for more countries or regions (presently Flanders requested their own set of environmental prices to assess emissions from heating in the built environment).

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