The Dutch government limits nitrogen emissions through regulation. Agriculture mainly emits nitrogen through manure, which causes environmental damage. If farmers reduce those emissions, they can sell nitrogen rights. The Port of Rotterdam, for instance, wants to buy nitrogen rights from its surrounding livestock farmers.
Edwin Woerdman, professor of markets and regulation at the University of Groningen, specializes in tradable emission rights. The billions of euros that these rights are potentially worth, have been given to farmers for free by the government. That can be seen as unfair, but it is a 'political trade-off', says the professor in the Dutch Financial Times (Financieele Dagblad). 'Society imposes emission limits on farmers, but farmers are allowed to trade in pieces of it which they receive for free. In this way, resistance from the sector to environmental measures can be overcome. '
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