The new government must quickly address the problems affecting people’s living environment. The Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) makes this call when presenting the so-called Balance of the living environment. Every two years the state of the environment, nature and space is described and government policy is evaluated. This includes climate, energy, circular economy, nature and agriculture.
“The next government must address the major challenges without delay and with vigor,” PBL Director Marco Heckert told NOS.
These issues have become so serious that the word “crisis” is often used, PBL notes. “There is a climate crisis, a nitrogen crisis, and a housing crisis. Could it be that Dutch politicians are only concerned with the living environment in the event of a crisis,” asks PBL. “That would be worrying.” Because a crisis could also lead to hasty choices and perhaps not the best policy. .
“For the first time in a long time, there is a deep realization in society and in politics that big steps need to be taken,” Heckert says. He believes this is a positive development. “All change starts this way: with the realization that things need to change. We are seeing that now.”
Politics must develop long-term policy to address major challenges, according to PBL. “That way you’re trying to avoid going from one incident to another,” Heckert says. According to the Planning Agency, the quality of the living environment is so poor that a number of important goals related to the living environment will likely not be achieved.
This relates to water quality, restoring nature, using less raw materials, and building more homes. Meeting the climate target in 2030 (55 percent fewer emissions) is also “highly uncertain.”
It is difficult to maintain long-term goals when governments change their own plans. “This is inherent in our democratic process,” Heckert says. However, he believes that there are also successful attempts. “The current climate law is an example where this appears to be working reasonably well, and future governments should adhere to it as well.” It is believed that this may also work to solve other problems.
Chaos and search
The Banque Populaire du Liban believes that if the problems had begun to be addressed twenty years ago, the current crises could likely have been prevented. “We could then organize this in a way that had much more support in the community,” Heckers says.
However, there are positive developments as well. He writes that the current era “can be described as chaotic and searching. But this is part of major transformations. This is not only difficult, but also hopeful. Because this chaos and searching is a sign that the transformation is off to a good start.” PBL.
The trick now is not to stand still and continue towards a sustainable society, according to PBL. The report also addresses the recent energy crisis. To counter this, liquefied natural gas was used. But this “runs counter to the evolution towards clean and affordable energy supplies.”
High energy prices
Much more LNG was imported into Europe last year than expected, nearly 50 billion cubic meters, instead of the 20 billion cubic meters calculated by the International Energy Agency.
“This increased security of supply, but in the short and long term, it came at the expense of the other two goals: affordable and clean.” This has “resulted in energy prices rising significantly, putting pressure on affordability.” “There’s no solution to all problems at the same time,” Heckert says. “It is important that the government dares to acknowledge the complexity.”
The Planning Office expects that there will be a major problem in reducing the use of raw materials such as minerals, metals and fossil raw materials. The government wants to halve that by 2030, but that is unlikely to happen, says PBL. It is also not yet possible to achieve a circular economy on the consumer side.
“Consumers want to collect waste separately and dispose of used items, but they are less willing to buy used products, and are hardly willing to share or rent products,” according to PBL.
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