The climate is changing and we are all going to see the consequences, everywhere in the world. There are many plans to prepare for it or even to reverse the process. But as alderman of an average city in the Netherlands, what can you contribute? What is the impact of climate measures at the local level? Rik Thijs, alderman for climate and energy in Eindhoven, shares with us his dilemmas, choices and ambitions once a month.
Back to the climate summit in Glasgow. Lots of “wheeling and dealing” behind the scenes. Sharpening and dulling of final statements, but above all a fiery speech from the premier of the Caribbean island of Barbados, Mia Mottley. She appealed for leadership, including her own. And that’s what it takes!
I look forward to the new Dutch coalition agreement in which hopefully the new line of direction and ‘action, action, action’ will become clear. Not only in terms of words, but also with means. Especially for the municipalities. Thus, as alderman, I can really be alongside the inhabitants in the energy transition, in order to jointly reverse climate change.
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As alderman, I am ready to work with many citizens, organizations, businesses and municipal organizations. Last month the budget of the municipality of Eindhoven was adopted in which, for the first time in years, we release additional funds on a structural basis. Money, for example, to provide the capacity for a city-wide insulation program, to make climate agreements with businesses and care facilities. By almost tripling our municipal climate and energy budget, we can get to work. If the national government is finally here and frees up structural money for the municipalities, then we can move from “action” to “action, action, action”.
We can then, for example, finance the ‘unprofitable top’, dialogue with residents neighborhood by neighborhood, and isolate on a much larger scale. The latter can be done by granting subsidies or at least by organizing group purchasing actions. In the coming year, we will be doing it in 25 districts and wards, but we have over 100.
In Eindhoven, we have an established climate plan, a heat transition vision and a regional energy strategy. An inclusive energy transition, however, is not a sprint or a training race. It’s not even a marathon, but I would say an ultra-run. My message to the national government: We are out of the starting blocks, do not let ourselves be tripped in the first 100 meters.
And if an alderman’s appeal does not find an audience, hopefully Mia Mottley’s will: “Simply put, when will the rulers lead?” Our people are watching and our people are taking note. And are we really going to leave Scotland without the determination and ambition we sorely need to save lives and our planet? Are we so blinded and hardened that we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity?