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PVV in power: will climate change be denied?

PVV In Power: Will Climate Change Be Denied?

It’s been nearly a month since the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) secured its position as the largest party in the Netherlands. In a late surge, Geert Wilders led the PVV to a historic victory. Although Wilders’ party has consistently held significance in Dutch politics since 2006, it has mostly functioned in an opposition role. Last November, 23.5% of Dutch voters opted for a change in direction, marking a significant shift in the progressive trajectory the Netherlands had been pursuing in terms of climate policies.

The leader of the PVV, Geert Wilders, is a climate denier. He calls keeping the planet livable a ‘left-wing hobby’. In his election manifesto, he writes that we have been warned about climate change for years, but that ‘none of the disaster scenarios have come true’.

Meanwhile, we see the consequences of climate change everywhere: record heat, extreme weather conditions and floods. We are also experiencing longer periods of drought and heat in the Netherlands.

This is just the beginning. The Earth has now warmed by 1.2 degrees, while according to UN scientists, we are heading for almost 3 degrees of warming by the end of this century. This warming makes major disasters more likely, such as a meter-high sea level rise. Large parts of the world are becoming uninhabitable due to heat and drought, resulting in hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

Climate scientists warn countries that ruthless action is needed. Wilders does that but in exactly the wrong direction. He wants to reverse the transition to clean energy – which the Netherlands is already well on its way. ‘No wind turbines, no solar parks’, but ‘coal and gas power stations’ and ‘gas and oil extraction in the North Sea’. He impedes the progress of companies transitioning by halting subsidies related to climate initiatives. He also wants to cancel the UN climate agreement, withdraw the climate law and scrap the climate fund.

The PVV cannot simply throw climate policy through the shredder. Almost half of our emissions are subject to European rules; there is a maximum limit on how much certain industries can emit. Our country cannot simply escape from this. In addition, there are economic considerations for companies to continue making their business more sustainable.

On the other hand, the PVV can delay climate policy. And that is dangerous. Scientists have given us until 2030 to drastically change course. We need to start doing that as soon as possible. Because the longer we wait, the more radical our interventions will have to be. This will lead to greater damage and therefore greater costs.

If Wilders manages to come to power, he will rule from 2024 to 2028. With him at the helm, we cannot expect the government to actively work on decreasing the effects of climate change. In fact, this is the last government that can act in time for a livable planet.

Fortunately, the climate movement is stronger than ever. Climate change has entered the minds of many. Just before the elections, 85.000 people took to the streets to stand up for the climate. With so many people, we can hold representatives at all levels accountable and ensure that solving the climate crisis is included in the coalition agreement. Whether it’s a right or left government.

Wilders wants the nitrogen rules off the table. The fact that nature is about to collapse is ‘spreading fear’ about a ‘non-existent nitrogen problem’ according to his election manifesto. The PVV wants to scrap the nitrogen fund that helps make agriculture more sustainable.

However, the nitrogen problem is irrefutable. Scientists show how bad a lot of nature is doing due to excessive nitrogen emissions. Forest rangers have demonstrated, and nature lovers are collectively, watching with dismay as our nature becomes increasingly monotonous and quiet. Water companies warn that excessive nitrogen emissions are one of the factors that may endanger our water supply.

Reducing nitrogen emissions is an absolute necessity to keep the most vulnerable nature, our air, water and biodiversity healthy. These are also the preconditions for our food security. The billions of euros in the nitrogen fund would finally give farmers the security they ask for. Wilders is therefore not helping farmers by wanting to scrap the nitrogen fund. 

Additionally, Wilders plans to give the major nitrogen emitter Schiphol, the largest Dutch airport, permission to keep expanding. Furthermore, the PVV’s plan also aims to increase the maximum speed on the highway to 140 km/h, therefore creating more emissions.

The reason that the old government planned to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 is that the Netherlands, like every other EU country, must adhere to the European Habitats Directive. This directive prescribes how much nature a country must protect to maintain (and not allow to deteriorate) biological biodiversity in Europe.

According to Christianne van der Wal, the first nature & nitrogen minister, nitrogen reduction by 2030 is ‘simply necessary to really meet the obligations of the Habitats Directive’. This would equally apply to the new cabinet, even if Wilders is in power.

On the other hand, despite the government’s plans, nitrogen deposition has barely been reduced during the nitrogen crisis of 2019. Although 2030 is already too late for the most vulnerable nature, emissions must be drastically reduced by 2025. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that a cabinet under Wilders will take the necessary steps in time.

Greenpeace previously announced a lawsuit against the state to demand faster nitrogen measures. That lawsuit is – with a Wilders cabinet – more important and urgent than ever. A lawsuit is the last resort to save the most vulnerable nature. Read more about the lawsuit. Additionally, despite the PVV’s potential dominance, the entire parliament must vote on policy plans. While Wilders may wield more influence, the climate-positive population still has a voice through voting. Despite challenges, all is not lost, and collective action remains crucial for a sustainable future.

Let’s use this moment to give renewed strength to the fight for nature and climate. The progressive movement must work harder than ever to ensure a healthy and sustainable world for generations to come.  

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