Don’t take the right to a car for granted, says Climate Council

Demonstrators at at an anti-climate change march. Photo:

The Dutch government will have to be more ambitious about achieving climate goals, the recently appointed climate policy advisory body Scientific Climate Council (WKR) has said in a first briefing to MPs on Wednesday.

There must be no delay in achieving the climate goals of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2030 and complete climate neutrality by 2050, or the international goal of no more than a 1.5 degree increase in global warming will go by the board, the WKR warned.

“Climate change does not wait for caretaker governments or any government, it just goes on changing,” WKR chair Jan Willem Erisman told NPO Radio 1. The WKR is also recommending the government adopt a European recommendation to reduce emissions by 90% to 95% as early as 2040.

There is no time to lose, the WKR said in its briefing. “The world has been faced with extreme weather in the last few years: heatwaves, drought, extreme rainfall and floods, including in the Netherlands, are causing untold damage and human suffering,”

The WKR said the Netherlands has already reduced harmful emissions by 30% and, with the efforts made worldwide, global warming, which was projected to be 4.8 degrees in 2100, could be reduced to between 2.2 to 3.5 degrees. That is still far too much, but, Erisman told NPO, “the Paris climate deal goal of 2 degrees, or even 1.5 degrees should still be possible.”

That will take “systemic changes” in the areas of energy generation, raw materials and agriculture, which will “cost much but will also benefit society by preventing economic damage and damage to health and biodiversity,” the WKR said.

Private citizens will not be exempt, Erisman said. Private car ownership will have to come down, for instance, he said in an interview with the AD.

The drive towards electric car use suggests that everyone will have one at some point but scarcity of available raw materials, for instance metals used in batteries, means that that will not be the case, he said.

The government announced on Tuesday that a third more people this year have taken advantage of subsidies to buy electric vans for their businesses than in the same period last year.

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