Dutch Cabinet Postpones New Climate Measures because of Virus

Guest opinion by Wim Röst

Introduction

The Dutch government has been in the forefront for ‘Climate Action’. But a remarkable switch in policy has been caused by the economic reality resulting from ‘the virus’.

Postponement of new climate measures

Autumn 2019 the Dutch Parliament asked the Dutch government to take extra climate measures. But in an announcement last Friday the Government stated that no new measures will be taken to diminish CO2 emissions because of the corona virus crisis.

“Many people now have other things to do. So do we.” said minister Wiebes from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

This fundamental switch by the Dutch government is quite logical given the recent developments in the economy caused by the corona virus. A real crises asks all energy and money to be directed to other goals than the virtual goal of ‘trying to avoid a possible danger for the year 2100’. Even the internationally well known ‘Urgenda Court Ruling’ does not have any priority. In the words of the Minister: “The court ruling is not off the table, but there are other priorities”.

Urgenda

According to the Urgenda Court Ruling the Dutch government is obliged to do more to achieve the present emission goals. This year many more measures should be taken to reach those goals. Economic reality however puts the climate goals aside. One of the groups that is putting pressure on governments to do so is Clintel which stands for ‘Climate Intelligence’.

Clintel’s letter to World Leaders

Last week a letter co-signed by Professor Richard Lindzen, by The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (and many others) asked world leaders to let the actual virus and economic crisis prevail over climate goals. In the words of Prof. Guus Berkhout, president of Clintel:

“Your Excellencies, compared to COVID-19 climate change is a non-problem! It is based on computer models and looks into the far future. In current health emergency, however, your attention to the peoples’ needs is today! Please, don’t continue pushing your zero carbon emission ambition in a time that the world is dealing with a deadly global crisis. Yes, there is an emergency, but it is NOT the climate.”

A translation of the open letter is available in many languages.

Conclusion

The decision of the Dutch government to postpone new climate measures signals a fundamental change in priorities by a country that has been one of the most committed to achieving climate goals.

Economic reality will urge many governments to follow.

With regards to commenting: please adhere to the rules known for this site: quote and react, not personal.


About the author: Wim Röst studied human geography in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The above is his personal view. He is not connected to firms or foundations nor is he funded by government(s).