Urgenda foreman: ‘Climate is not a subject for political games’

On Wednesday, October 6, Minnesma left the Eemshaven in Groningen on foot. Last Monday she boarded a train to Scotland, where she will run the last leg of the Urgenda Climate Miles today, ending in Glasgow.

Treat it like a crisis

She didn’t walk alone, every day walkers joined Urgenda’s action. Sometimes dozens, sometimes a few hundred, but all with the same goal: attention to, but especially action against, climate change.

“We can prevent the worst,” Minnesma told RTL Z, during the stage from Maarn to Utrecht. “It can all change, but then you have to treat climate change as a crisis. Not as one of the 30 things you slowly solve in 30 years. Then you’re just too late.”

Let’s go back in time for a moment, to 2013. On 20 November, Urgenda will hand in the summons for what will later be called the Climate Case. Defendant: the Dutch State. The demand: the state must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The judge ruled in favor of Urgenda in 2015. Greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands must be at least 25 percent lower in 2020 than in 1990. The appeal and the cassation will also be decided in favor of the sustainability organization.

Has anything changed in terms of climate policy since that subpoena?

“After our lawsuit, the Paris Climate Agreement was concluded, in which many countries said: the temperature on earth should actually not rise more than 1.5 degrees. Before that, the target was a maximum of 2 degrees,” says Minnesma.

“We are already at 1.1 to 1.2 degrees warmer in the world. It is extremely difficult to reach that 1.5 degrees, but it is essential. At 1.5 people under the Sahara can just stay there live, at 2 degrees they all have to leave and 200 million people get adrift. So I can give a whole laundry list; the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is really huge.”

And, Minnesma says in the same breath: the world community has not reduced emissions at all since 2015. “We are now heading for 3 degrees warmer at the end of the century. That is why all those young people, led by Greta Thunberg, are also so angry. They just see that their future is being destroyed.”

So not enough is happening yet?

“Many times more needs to be done. And the goals have to change, because now we aim with all countries at the top to have zero emissions from 2050. But then we will already be over 2.5 degrees, so we should actually be at 2030. going to aim. Back as much as possible to 0 in 2030.”

To be sure, Urgenda is already thinking about a new lawsuit. “If the new cabinet does not come up with a substantial package of measures. Unfortunately, that is apparently necessary to force them into action.”

Does this also mean that, for example, the Dutch Climate Agreement must be tightened up?

“The agreements that are there are political agreements that are politically feasible. They are not agreements to keep the earth livable. More needs to be done for that and unfortunately politics will only act if there is really a crisis in front of them.”

But given the speed that is needed, it will really have to be the government that will exert pressure and help, says Minnesma. “The industry has to adapt their production processes. That is a very big step, but you know it is possible. They all told me that too.”

“It’s no longer about a little less energy consumption, it’s about making steel with hydrogen instead of coal, adding windmills at sea. The government has to direct that. Technically it is possible, you really don’t have any more 10 years of innovation needed.”

Politicians should actually have the courage to go back to zero emissions within 10 years, instead of 30 years, says the Urgenda foreman. “But they are just too scared. Too much concerned with ‘will I be re-elected in four years’ and far too little with ‘the earth will be a mess in 50 years and no longer a livable place for our children’.”

A frequently asked question is: what does it matter what I do, if China opens 20 coal-fired power stations every year, so to speak?

“It is good that people are starting to realize that the Netherlands is not as small as some would have us believe. We are among the 20 percent of all countries in the world that emit the most. If we look at the emissions per person , we are even in the top 10.”

She just wants to say: the Netherlands must first get its own backyard in order. “That is the sum of many things. So let the industry go to zero emissions in 10 years, and tackle our houses, install solar panels, eat as little meat as possible, buy less stuff. That way everyone can do a bit.”

What are your expectations for the Glasgow summit?

“In any case, I am happy that Biden is now there for the United States. He has appointed John Kerry as climate envoy to go around the world and ensure that there is more speed in combating climate change. The EU is also one of them. the better ones in the company.”

“The countries that started developing later, that generates discussion. They say: you have almost all emissions from 100 years ago to your name and now that we are going to emit, we must immediately start reducing them. They do not think that is fair. we make sure that everyone feels that the burden is shared fairly?”

“I don’t know what happens behind the scenes. We don’t see that, of course. I think most of it has already been covered before the top starts, that only the last remaining points remain. That it is mainly a lot of telling for the stage. “

Frustrating I guess?

“Yes, of course. You prefer to talk about the content, how do we ensure a liveable earth? Actually, climate change is not a subject to play political games about. We did not do that with corona and we should not do that here. We have such a beautiful planet with everything on it and we’re just fucking it up.”

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