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Concerns arise over the impact of Geert Wilders’ far-right PVV’s victory on Dutch climate policies.

The unexpected triumph of the far-right PVV party, led by Geert Wilders, in the Dutch elections has caused concern among climate activists. They worry about the possibility of a significant move towards fossil fuels and a reversal of climate policies if the party is able to establish a ruling coalition.

The PVV, which won first place in Wednesday’s election but may face difficulty forming a coalition, is most recognized internationally for its anti-Muslim rhetoric. The party has strongly advocated for policies aimed at preventing further global warming.

The party’s goal is to increase oil and gas production from the North Sea while halting the development of wind and solar energy sources. They are also seeking to eliminate the Dutch climate legislation and withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

According to Yolande Schuur of the Dutch division of Extinction Rebellion, these elections make it evident that politics cannot rescue us.

The PVV, which received praise from far-right leaders across Europe on Thursday for its success with voters, stated that it will not spend billions on “useless climate pastimes.”

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According to its manifesto, the Netherlands, with 26% of its land below sea level, can adapt to any further changes in climate as it has always done. The party aims to end the drastic reduction of CO2 emissions.2

“We delude ourselves as a small nation, thinking we can rescue the climate with this.”

The Dutch are among the biggest polluters in the world, and also in Europe. Per person, the Netherlands pumped more planet-heating gas into the atmosphere in 2021 than all other EU member states bar Estonia, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Luxembourg.

Heleen de Coninck, a climate policy professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, stated that PVV has views similar to those of climate denialism. Although they do not completely reject the existence of human-caused climate change, this is a recent change in their stance.

According to De Coninck, who is also the vice-chair of the Netherlands Scientific Climate Council, the party’s radical opinions may be moderated even if they are part of a governing coalition.

She stated that the party will not be able to gain majority support in parliament for many of its proposals. However, there was a clear majority in favor of the climate law, and this has not changed.

Kees van der Leun, the managing director of the energy consultancy Common Futures, concurred that the majority of Dutch legislators prefer to maintain the current direction.

According to him, the nation’s climate strategies are influenced by obligations to the EU, recent initiatives to reduce reliance on Russian gas, and increasing attention from companies. “In my opinion, the election results are not expected to greatly impede our climate policies.”

The European Union has made a pledge to decrease emissions by 55% by the end of the 2020s compared to 1990 levels, with the ultimate goal of reaching net zero by 2050. The Netherlands plays a significant role in climate discussions within the EU, and their former deputy prime minister Wopke Hoekstra serves as the bloc’s primary climate representative.

According to Dick van Dam, a researcher at the Netherlands environment agency, the impact of the election on the environment will likely be more significant in Brussels rather than in The Hague.

However, the possibility of a “Nexit” could alter this situation. The PVV is pushing for a referendum on withdrawing the Netherlands from the EU, but Wilders stated to Dutch media on Thursday that reducing immigration was his main focus.

Wilders could potentially turn to two other right-leaning parties for support, namely the VVD led by current prime minister Mark Rutte and the NSC led by Pieter Omtzigt. Both of these parties have stated their commitment to staying in the EU and upholding the Paris agreement.

Silke Mooldijk, an analyst from the environmental thinktank NewClimate Institute, stated that Wilders will require the support of at least two additional parties in order to create a coalition. Despite the fact that neither the VVD nor the NSC prioritize climate mitigation, it is unlikely that they will support a complete halt to national climate policies.

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Reworded: The climate activists displayed more fear as they protested against his victory in The Hague on Thursday, with Greenpeace members holding up signs that read: “Our prime minister should not deny the climate.”

Andy Palmen, the head of Greenpeace’s Dutch division, expressed concern for the environment, biodiversity, and sustainable farming, stating that they are all in jeopardy.

The individual stated that the Netherlands requires a leader who acknowledges the existence of climate change and possesses the ability to bring people together through sincerity, optimism, and consideration. They expressed that Wilders has demonstrated he is not suited for this role.

According to Schuur of Extinction Rebellion, the previous government’s climate policy was insufficient, and the PVV has enough seats to join forces with other parties that oppose necessary policies.

“Despite not being included in the new government, the PVV holds enough seats (37 out of 150) in the House of Representatives to potentially hinder crucial efforts towards addressing climate change.”

Despite its size, the Netherlands is a significant contributor to pollution and serves as a center for industry and agriculture in Europe. In response to a court ruling that determined nitrogen levels were too high, the country has taken steps to reduce pollution. However, these efforts have been met with backlash from farmers and have resulted in the Farmer Citizen Movement gaining the majority of seats in the Dutch senate.

A survey conducted by Ipsos prior to the election revealed that nitrogen is a highly divisive topic among Dutch voters. 30% of respondents believe that limiting livestock herds is necessary to reduce nitrogen emissions, while 40% do not agree with this stance.

De Coninck stated that voters on the right may have prioritized trust in government over environmental concerns.

While this marks a dark moment in Dutch election history, with a far-right populist party gaining significant support, I do not believe the election was focused on climate issues.

Source: theguardian.com