Climate policy should be up to politicians, not the courts, say employers
The government’s delays in drawing up climate change policy is giving campaign groups space to develop environmental law using the courts rather than the political system, and this is bad for business investments, says Ingrid Thijssen, chairwoman of employers organisation VNO-NCW.
‘The direction of climate policy is up to the government, not the courts,’ Thijssen said in an opinion piece in Monday’s Financieele Dagblad.
The challenge facing the Netherlands to cut carbon emissions by at least 55% in eight years time can only be achieved if tackled via a united front, she said. ‘These climate goals can only be achieved through strong coordination from the government and intensive collaboration between the business community, government and stakeholders.’
The long lead times for energy projects and the shortage of skilled technicians are two major problems facing industry, but a relatively new complication, she says, is the increasing tendency to go to court.
This situation, she said, is leading to more uncertainty for companies because the campaigners going to court are trying to enforce their own standards and methods of validation.
‘Companies will have to realise fundamental changes, but this will only succeed if they have a high degree of stability in the coming years,’ Thijssen writes.
‘Some companies in the Netherlands will invest hundreds of millions and even billions of euros in completely new factories and processes in order to achieve the climate goals on time,’ she said. ‘They are prepared to do so, but need legal certainty.’
The lack of clarity in terms of legislation and the tendency to go to court has not gone unnoticed in the boardrooms of domestic and foreign companies, Thijssen said. ‘This is a deterrent to making the much-needed investments in the Netherlands.’
Both Shell and Tata Steel are currently the target of private prosecutions in the Netherlands relating to their climate strategies and carbon emissions.
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