A personal climate challenge

Cobouw column by Wim van den Berg

Published on {{ $filters.formatDateWithYear(1531692000000) }}

The main points of the Netherlands’ Climate Charter are to be published this week, setting out how the country is to pursue the aims of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The main objective is to reduce carbon emissions by 55% compared to the reference year 1990. This ambitious target places us at the head of climate efforts, having trailed behind the rest of Europe for so long. The government has announced investments running into several billion euros. While the figures are impressive, they say little to me at a practical level. How will the plans affect us? How will they change our lives?

At present, we have only the outlines. I am very curious about the details, which are to made known later this year. In particular, I’m looking forward to learning more about the planned energy transition. Are all our coal-fired power stations to be replaced by wind turbines? Will all our buses and trucks be electric or hydrogen-powered ten years from now? Can enough be done to make the built environment entirely carbon neutral by the year 2030? I’m not being cynical: I really want to know.

I have always believed that a better environment begins with yourself. In recent years I have upgraded my home insulation. I use my car less, travelling by public transport or bike instead. I donate unwanted items to thrift stores so that someone else can use them, and I am a regular visitor to our local recycling containers. On the other hand, I have just returned from holiday. The carbon footprint of the flights there and back cancelled out any savings I made in the last year. Will I still be jetting off to foreign climes fifteen years from now? Or will the world really have changed?

Perhaps everyone will have a sort of CO2 ration card, with a set number of credits to be spent on environmentally-unfriendly activities. There could be points for eating meat, for the kilometres you’re allowed to drive (in a shared car) and the number of times you’re allowed to use your tumble dryer. This could open up an interesting trading system. “Fancy coming to a barbecue tonight? We’ll have to use your meat points because I’ve run out, but we can use my fuel points.” Enjoy your holidays!

Wim van den Berg,
Manager Witteveen+Bos office Breda

This column was also published on www.cobouw.nl 

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