Dutch government rarely puts in effort to achieve its own sustainability goals: PBL

THE HAGUE - The Dutch government is fond of setting sustainability goals but almost never puts in the effort necessary to achieve them, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). As a result, the Netherlands is at risk of missing deadlines for almost all its climate goals, ranging from improving water quality to the more economical use of raw materials, the PBL said in its biennial report, De Telegraaf reports. 


The quality of the Netherlands' living environment is in such poor condition that several important living environment goals will likely be missed, the PBL wrote. 


According to a European directive from the year 2000, all surface water and groundwater in the Netherlands must be suitable for the plants and animals that belong here by 2027. That’s not going to happen, according to the PBL. 

The same applies to the restoration of nature. The PBL also called it highly questionable that the Netherlands will manage to emit 55 percent less greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990. 


The Netherlands will also likely miss its target for wasting fewer raw materials, a big cause of air, water, and soil pollution, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. The government aims to halve the use of minerals, metals, and fossil raw materials by 2030. But trend developments show the demand for lithium, cobalt, and rare metals increasing in the Netherlands and worldwide in the coming years, the PBL said. 


These “critical materials” are needed for wind turbines, batteries, electric engines, and dynamos, all required for the energy transition. And that is one of the big reasons behind the lack of results - the government’s goals are contradictory, PBL director Marko Hekkert said. For example, the aim to build 900,000 homes between now and 2030 is at odds with the fight against waste, he told the Telegraaf. “The energy transition also requires a lot of raw materials.” 


“The goals themselves are all worth pursuing, but the measures to achieve them can sometimes get in the way of each other. When goals conflict, politicians will have to make clear choices: which goal should take priority,” Hekekrt said. 


Hekkert doesn’t think the government has taken on too much, but it has been lax. “The goals and tasks were formulated a long time ago, and they are all desperately needed. The problem is that politicians have waited too long to take serious action. Now that 2030 is around the corner, the realization is dawning that a lot still needs to be done in a short time.”