Dutch climate scientists who co-wrote the latest reports from the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) say alarming messages about climate rarely reach the public and government.
“Despite great importance and growing urgency, recent Cabinet terms have been characterized by a hesitant stance towards radical measures that lead to necessary regime change,” the climate scientists said.
In an open letter – entitled “Taking full advantage of available climate knowledge: it costs more to wait” – to the outgoing government, they put forward 5 insights based on the latest IPCC reports that apply to the Netherlands.
“Fighting climate change is everyone’s responsibility, and although the Netherlands is small and so are our direct emissions, the rapid elimination of Dutch emissions is crucial worldwide.” Climate scientists stress first and foremost the importance of a strong Dutch climate policy. Hence the ambitious goals in European and Dutch climate laws: reducing emissions by at least 55 percent in 2030 compared to 1990, and achieving climate neutrality in 2050.
Second, scientists emphasize that climate targets and cost-effective measures are achievable. “The IPCC shows that it is technically and economically possible to reduce emissions by 2030 in line with the 1.5 degree target. It is also possible to adapt to a climate with such – relatively limited – warming. The cumulative costs of mitigation and adaptation are much lower than the costs of damages caused Averted.
Adaptation and mitigation policy
“Adaptation and mitigation policies are both necessary and urgent,” they continue in the third point of interest. “Mitigation and adaptation measures are interconnected in different ways: some adaptation measures lead to more emissions – such as air conditioning – which increases the task of mitigation. Moreover, adaptation measures require space, capital, labor and raw materials, which cannot always be used for mitigation measures.
Scientists stress that mitigation and adaptation measures can reinforce each other when taken in conjunction. “Moreover, adaptation and mitigation transformations rely on the same knowledge, governance principles and infrastructure, and must be implemented in the same cities, buildings and sectors. Exploiting such synergies – and preventing contradictory mitigation and adaptation policies – is essential to achieving the Paris goals and reducing risks and costs.
Fourth, scientists emphasize the importance of international cooperation on climate. “The Dutch voice in international climate policy is shaped in cooperation with other EU member states. The EU speaks with one voice in the UN climate negotiations and is one of the most ambitious and credible groups of countries in those climate negotiations. It is crucial for the sense of fairness in the UN climate negotiations.” Climate change, especially for vulnerable countries, is for the European Union – and therefore the Netherlands as well – to maintain this ambition.
Scientists believe that the climate problem can only be solved if all countries participate, on the basis of responsibility for the problem and the options available to them, and have a say in how climate action is shaped on their territory. “Retaining funding for international cooperation on technology and capabilities, while taking into account local needs, is therefore a matter of well-understood self-interest.”
In addition, scholars call for coherence between European, national and regional policies. “The need for policy coordination and cooperation between different levels of government has been underlined by the IPCC reports. EU regulations are essential to level the playing field for business and provide leverage to influence global policy. It is essential to translate the European targets (Green Deal ) effectively into national and local policy.
Finally, scientists call for the appointment of climate ambassadors in all relevant ministries and institutions. “This could be a way to monitor the integration of climate approaches, to prevent different governments and institutions from working against each other and to increase knowledge and awareness at all levels. Climate Ambassadors can test the policies of all administrations, even those where climate is not of primary concern, against the lines agreed in an agreement.” ‘Coalition, and against opportunities to link to climate policy in other administrations, and they can form a link between science and policy.’