Context and Background:
The Netherlands, famous for its cycling, wind turbines, hydro-power and straight-forward/rude people is not at green as you may think. Through out the past years, the importance of limiting the amount of carbon emissions to be released in the atmosphere per capita has played a crucial role in the development of the EU, The Netherlands since 1960 until 2013 has only but been on a steady release of CO2 emissions metric tons per capita (source: The World Bank Data – IBRD IDA):
The Netherlands, as last recorded in 2013, released 10.1 metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita (16.5 millions people populated The Netherlands at the time). In comparison to other major powers of the European Union like France (65 million inhabitants), The Netherlands stands tall and out of line in that respect as shown here:
France managed to even go under its previous metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita since 1960 and has one of the lowest metric tons of CO2 emissions for a country of this size and population. It is true that the Netherlands is the most densely populated country in the European Union, though, it is odd that a country that is praised for its progressive outlook on the world seems to be uninterested in decreasing its CO2 emissions. Although most of The Netherlands is under the sea level, one would thing, this would be the number one priority?
Why is The Netherlands not so Green?
A. The car culture: Over the past years since 2000, the car culture boomed in The Netherlands. The slogan was as follows: You Too Can Be like Us! A reference to the United States (US). In many ways, The Netherlands is Americanised with its privatised health-care and public transport. It tends to offer more comfort than solutions to its populations. Thus, the roads of The Netherlands are ranked among the busiest in Europe. Good luck getting home from Amsterdam to Rotterdam for example. During rush hour; the 4 – 5 wide lanes highways are filled with cars going at 25km/h on average, with very little room. Secondly, the Dutch approach to cars is also heavily based upon leasing vehicles. This allows people who cannot afford to buy a new or second-hand car to “rent” cars for a longer period of time, by paying off their vehicle every month with some interest. This pushes people to purchase such a deal which results with more cars on the roads, thus more CO2 emissions per capita. This results in the following data: 383 cars per 1000 people. That is a lot of cars.
B. Animal agriculture: When looking at animal agriculture The Netherlands stands tall for such a small country. Animal agriculture is notorious for contributing to CO2 emissions. I will let these graphs speak for themselves (Source: Eurostat):
C. Rotterdam & Schiphol: Rotterdam is by far the largest port in Europe, and it is an ecological disaster zone. This port is a goldmine economically speaking, harbouring jobs, opportunities, development etc, but environmentally speaking it is a disaster. Schiphol is one of the largest airport of Europe. All these international and layover flights leave a huge carbon footprint in terms of kerosene and CO2 emissions. The Dutch government though is adamant about maintaining The Netherlands as a portal for the rest of Europe. In doing so, they will maintain its very large airport and seaport, with of course coinciding heavy industry at its river mouths, directly polluting its airspace, waters and the English Channel and the North Sea.
D. Shell: is one of the biggest Dutch/British oil companies in the world. The politics around this industry is heavily lobbied and even liberals, who claim to understand the importance of switching to renewable energy, have shown very little interest of supporting the bigger plans to build wind farms in the North Sea. After Jeroen van der Veer, former Shell CEO, was appointed as the figure head of the consultant group “Topteam for Energy”, subsidies for the offshore wind farms were scrapped. Voices of greener energy companies like Eneco or even big industry players such as Philips and Unilever (not particularly known for being environmentally friendly) are not being heard, after calling out for “innovation, a strong domestic market and a stronger regulatory role by the Dutch government” they say.
E. The Dutch beef against Mother Nature: The Dutch have a long history with mother nature. Battling the sea is what they do and they are not afraid to show that off! They do have an attitude of we will fight when we need to and skepticism for global warming may also play a role on the willingness to follow the EU guidelines for CO2 emissions.
So What is There to Do?
Evidently the solution is not to close the Rotterdam Port or Schiphol. That would irresponsible and too drastic. One of the solutions is to push individuals to consume less energy on their own time. Attempt to:
- Save water, recycle, take cold showers,
- Use the car less. Use public transport and the bicycle.
- Drive hybrid or fully electric (Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Tesla etc.)
- Work from home more often to limit commuting,
- Eat less animal products (if none is better),
- Use another energy provider than Nuon. There are better and cleaner providers: Eneco or Oxxio,
- Install solar panels onto your house if possible.
- Renovate your house and insulate it well to receive the proper energy labels.
Sometimes regulations are necessary to steer the Dutch people into the right direction. Greed and capitalism tends to overlook the essential things in life: good health, the environment, clean waters, etc. An effective Holland would be well insulated houses so that energy poverty is well managed. The transition to electric vehicles for the sake of our health is essential too. Use your voting power and raise your voice to help The Netherlands towards the correct path, whilst keeping its economical growth going.
Stimulate innovation and help your country!