The result of the election: what does this mean for the climate?

The result of the election: what does this mean for the climate?

The VVD wins the most votes in the preliminary results of the Dutch parliamentary elections and D66 also makes a big unexpected leap. The left-wing parties are lagging behind. What does this election result mean for sustainable developments? CSR Netherlands will talk to experts about the expectations of the new Cabinet.

Decisiveness, challenge, hope and radical change. For example, the panelists present describe in one word the provisional result of the Dutch parliamentary elections. CSR Netherlands, the network for sustainable entrepreneurs, speaks to experts and people from the business community and explores the new path of the election result to accelerate towards a new economy: climate neutral, circular, inclusive and with honest chains.

What does the preliminary results say?

According to Maria van der Heijden, director-director of CSR Netherlands, D66’s profits are desperately needed to make steps towards a sustainable economy. “The elections do not show sufficient support on the themes such as climate change and sustainability”, says van der Heijden. And, according to her, you have to create that support with each other: “You can only create that support if you set up a vision, as D66 does. We need a purple coalition to accelerate and realize that vision to go from words to deeds.”

Yet not everyone is so optimistic. According to Michel Scholte, minister of the new economy, a purple coalition is not enough to accelerate. “Larger parties do not have sustainability sufficiently on the agenda. It is a green flag on a mud barge for many parties: it is not enough.” Scholte sees that SMEs and green entrepreneurs receive too little financial support and that the current economy is maintained by subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. Scholte says that needs to change dramatically.

That radical urge is understandable, says Roy op de Veld, editor-in-chief of Change Inc. But according to him, the result shows that there is no support for this. “D66 has made an advance and that is encouraging. This sets a different tone in politics and that is an incredibly important factor in making it more sustainable in the end. I hope for leadership that is more focused on cooperation. This is an important element in taking steps in politics.”

What does this result mean for sustainable entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneur Marielle van Oort sees the profit of D66 as a first step in the right direction. “Left-wing parties have been flattened, so we have to see to what extent we can live up to our ideals,” explains van Oort. D66 is, in her opinion, the leader of goodwill and that is why the entrepreneur is hopeful: “The pressure we put as CSR Netherlands – together with other parties – will hopefully provide a first step towards greening and sustainability.”

Op de Veld believes that we should not expect too much impact from the elections in the sustainable field. “It is of course important that politics creates conditions in the field of subsidy policy, for example. But the real key lies not with politics, but with business,” he said. One trend that gives him hope is the new generation of young talents entering the labour market: “These young talents make demands on companies: they want to work for an organization that has a purpose.”

Roland Amoureus of waste management company Renewi also sees this trend. “We attract talented young people because they want to work in the sustainability sector and improve the world. With decisiveness, we can get politics on track.” According to sustainability consultant Jan Paul van Soest, greening does not have to be on the classic ‘green must be done via the left’ approach. “This classic approach should give way to appealing to the right side of the spectrum through companies and with economic instruments.”

What do entrepreneurs need to make the move to a new economy?

Everyone agrees: there must be real prices that include social, environmental and climate costs. Scholte is founder of True Price and has been working hard for years to map out these negative climate costs and take action on them. Van der Heijden also sees this as a crucial task for the government: “We really need this to achieve the playing field for green and social entrepreneurs from the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the climate agreement.”

In addition to actual prices for products and services, the government should shift taxes on labour to taxes on polluting raw materials. Amoureus van Renewi: “We have to get rid of voluntary and non-committal. Come up with tough rules.” And that also shows a recent study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The agency argues that the circular economy is not getting enough attention and that too little money is being allocated to it. They advise that voluntary payment should give way to levies and rules.

Is a climate minister a good idea? Most panelists don’t think so. “Sustainability must be intertwined in all functions”, explains Amoureus of the waste management company. That’s what Op het Veld thinks: “I think you have to operate from the center of power. The Prime Minister should not think that climate policy is regulated if there is a minister for it. Climate policy is chefsache. It is therefore more powerful to take steps towards a more sustainable future from an existing portfolio than from a new portfolio.”

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