This article, published in the journal Energy Policy, examines the evolution of the local government-led process in the Netherlands for heat decarbonisation governance, drawing on documentary evidence and interviews with people connected to the Dutch residential heat transition.


Decarbonising heat is especially difficult in the Netherlands, as it is the country in Europe most heavily dependent on natural gas for residential heating. However, the Dutch government aims to phase out the use of gas by 2050, and has adopted a local government-led process for heat decarbonisation visions and plans for neighbourhoods. This article examines the evolution of this new governance approach drawing on documentary evidence and interviews with participants in and observers of the Dutch residential heat transition. The Dutch approach has a number of strengths, building on the closeness of local government to residents and sophisticated mechanisms for technical support and knowledge sharing. However, there a number of challenges have also emerged, in policy coherence and instrument consistency, the capacity of municipalities to deliver, problematic regional coordination, vulnerability to an incumbent pro-gas coalition, and in some cases poor engagement leading to backlash from the public. The Dutch experience has useful lessons for other gas-dependent countries, such as the UK, seeking to decarbonise residential heat.


  • Anna Devenish, Eindhoven University of Technology
  • Matthew Lockwood, UKERC | University of Sussex Business School

Publication Details