Call for new cabinet: quickly address crises in people’s living environment Yesterday, 8:13 PM in the Netherlands The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) advocates a long-term approach, because acting based on ‘crisis’ can lead to hasty choices .

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A new cabinet must quickly address the problems that affect people’s living environment. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) makes this call when presenting the so-called Balance of the Living Environment. Every two years, the state of the environment, nature and space is described and government policy is evaluated. This includes climate and energy, circular economy, nature and agriculture.

“The next government must tackle the major challenges without delay, with verve,” Marko Hekkert, director of PBL, told NOS.

These issues have become so serious that the word ‘crisis’ is often used, the PBL notes. “There is a climate crisis, a nitrogen crisis and a housing crisis. Could it be that Dutch politicians are only interested in the living environment if there is a crisis, asks the PBL. “That would be worrying.” Because a crisis can also lead to hasty choices and possibly not the best policy.

Consistent policy

“For the first time in a long time, there is a deep realization in society and also in politics that major steps need to be made,” says Hekkert. That is a positive development, he thinks. “Every change starts that way: with the realization that things need to change. And we see that now.”

Politics must develop long-term policy for the major challenges, according to the PBL. “This way you try to avoid rolling from incident to incident,” says Hekkert. According to the planning agency, the quality of the living environment is so poor that a number of important living environment goals will probably not be achieved.

This concerns water quality, nature restoration, using fewer raw materials, and the construction of many more homes. Achieving the climate target in 2030 (55 percent fewer emissions) is also “very uncertain”.

It is difficult to maintain long-term goals when cabinets change with their own plans. “That is inherent to our democratic process,” says Hekkert. Yet there are also successful attempts, he sees. “The current climate law is an example where this seems to be working reasonably well, and future cabinets must also adhere to it.” This could also work well for other problems, he thinks.

Chaotic and searching

If problems had started to be addressed twenty years earlier, the current crises would probably have been prevented, the PBL believes. “Then we could have organized this in a way that would have received much more support in society,” says Hekkers.

Yet there are also positive developments. The current era “can be characterized as chaotic and searching. But this is part of major transformations. That is not only difficult, but also hopeful. Because that chaos and search are a sign that the transformation is off to a good start,” writes the PBL.

The trick now is not to stand still and to continue towards a sustainable society, according to PBL. The report also addresses the recent energy crisis. To cope with this, liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been used. But that “is at odds with the development towards a clean and affordable energy supply.”

High energy prices

Much more LNG was imported into Europe last year than expected, namely approximately 50 billion cubic meters, instead of the 20 billion cubic meters that the International Energy Agency had calculated.

“This led to greater security of supply, but in both the short and long term it is at the expense of the two other objectives: affordable and clean.” It has “led to very high energy prices that have put pressure on affordability.” “There is not a solution for all problems at the same time,” says Hekkert. “It is important that the government dares to recognize the complexity.”


The Planning Bureau foresees a major problem in reducing the use of raw materials such as minerals, metals and fossil raw materials. The government wants to halve that by 2030, but that is unlikely to happen, says PBL. It is also not yet possible to achieve a circular economy on the consumer side.

“Consumers want to collect waste separately and dispose of second-hand items, but are much less willing to buy second-hand products, and they hardly want to share or rent products,” according to PBL.

  • Criticism from opposition and industry organizations on the cabinet’s climate plan
  • Planning Bureau: Cabinet must make sharper choices in the battle for space
  • New report: climate ambitions are high, but unattainable with this policy
  • Domestic

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