The Ministers pool of the Netherlands will reportedly be expanding as the new centered coalition takes office, adding among others a Minister of Climate Affairs and Environment.
The general election of March of this year was won by the incumbent center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Though the VVD became the largest political party of the country with 33 out of the 150 seats, it still needed to form a coalition with other parties worth at least 42 seats in order to avoid the precarious venture of operating as a minority government. The coalition formation process has required months of negotiating between various parties, but now finally seems to crystallize as a center-right coalition involving — beside the VVD — the also center-right D66 and Christian parties CDA and ChristenUnie.
The somewhat conservative coalition might have a surprise in store regarding their commitment to a sustainable economy. Although CDA, as well as VVD, can be pointed to as part of the reason the Netherlands is one of the least sustainable EU countries right now, as both have dominated multiple previous administrations, both D66 and ChristenUnie have promised their voters a greener future. The ChristenUnie’s main campaign promise was that of ensuring stewardship, the responsible management of the earth and its preservation for future generations. D66, coming from a more economic liberal perspective, are advocating a strengthening of the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), as to bring down emissions through international cooperation.
With the appointment of a Minister of Climate Affairs and Environment, the Netherlands enters the limited league of nations that have these matters directly represented at the highest level of administration. Other countries are for example South Africa, with its Minister of Environmental Affairs, and the United Arab Emirates, where a Minister of Climate Change and Environment takes care of the nasty side of burning fossil fuels. Ironically, pumping up oil has been a major drive of the country’s current affluence.
Whether the appointment of a Minister of Climate Affairs will improve any country’s sustainability performance is not guaranteed. Nevertheless it is a good sign that more attention appears to be paid to the issue, and that slowly more and more governments consider the preservation of our environment to be among their highest priorities.
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