An inconvenient truth

The Dutch government is no where near as green as it likes to be considered, writes Atticus.

So, our glorious leader Jan Peter Balkenende has slapped US president Barack Obama on the wrist for not doing enough to save the planet. Jolly good for him ….
But hold on, is this the prime minister of the country with one of the worst records in Europe in the generation of sustainable energy? Is this the prime minister who was more than happy – eager even – to pose with former US vice-president Al Gore and jump on the bandwagon called ‘An Inconvenient truth’.
Is this the government that called a stop to subsidies on the installation of solar panels on homes … because they were proving too popular! This subsidy has now been relaunched, but don’t expect it to last too long or have any real impact.
The inconvenient truth in this case is that not one of the four Balkenende cabinets (yes, four!) have in their short lives done anything concrete to save the planet, or even this little corner of that planet.
Not even a little bit. Every single target for the reduction of carbon emissions has been missed and all future targets are set to be missed, too.
But, the government did introduce the much-criticized tax on airline passengers, netting the government something like €500 million in extra revenues. This did lead to a dramatic fall in the number of passengers flying from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and a massive fall in carbon emissions, did it not?
Not really, as disgruntled holiday-makers and other airline passengers simply flew from airports in Belgium and Germany. But surely the government used that €500 million to finance measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions, like making a public transport system that is efficient and affordable.
Get out of here! What a silly idea. No, that €500 million disappeared into government coffers struggling to bale out the banks and other corporations that generate the bulk of this unfortunate country’s pollution.
Or possibly to finance the government’s response to increasing traffic and pollution – widening the motorways to increase traffic even further.
And now they’ve stopped the passenger tax, to save Schiphol Airport from its well-deserved doom. So, everybody can happily take their highly-polluting long-haul flights. The message is, right now, don’t save the planet, save the Dutch economy.
Come to think of think of it, that’s been part of the Balkenende message from the word go. God save our captains of industry. And a jolly good job this government has done on all those fronts. Well done.
Atticus is free-lance journalist

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