The climate is changing and we are all going to notice the consequences, all over the world. There are plenty of plans to prepare for this or even to reverse the process. But as an alderman for a medium-sized city in the Netherlands, what can you contribute to that? What is the impact of climate measures at a local level? Rik Thijs, alderman for climate & energy in Eindhoven, shares his dilemmas, choices, and his ambitions with us once every month.

Friday 16 July, early in the morning, my friend and I left for Southern Europe. With the app from Foreign Affairs in hand to avoid all the orange corona areas, enjoying a few weeks’ holidays after a special time of working from home and many hours of digital meetings.

Initially, the intention was to catch the train to Madrid and look further from there. However, we didn’t dare to do this because of corona and we decided to travel south by car. This way we could easily anticipate the advice of the government and possibly travel back home very quickly.

By car? Yes, this alderman for climate and energy has a car. Since we started living together, a year ago, my boyfriend’s car has been here. A somewhat older car with broken air conditioning. In short, enough reasons to look for a new (used) car before the vacations. And yes, of course, nowadays the question is what do you choose, petrol, hybrid or fully electric? I find the search for a new car really terrible. It’s a waste of my money, I don’t know anything about it and too much choice paralyzes me. In the end, I would go for the most beautiful model.

But as an alderman, I am aware that I have to lead by example. That is what I want too. So an electric car. This is where the dilemma begins. My boyfriend regularly has to travel the country by car for work, he often leaves early and makes long distances. An electric car is not yet optimal. A plug-in hybrid then? Add to that the problem that we don’t have a driveway and the nearest charging station is, unfortunately, a few blocks away. If I spend a lot of money on a car, I want to be able to keep an eye on it.

After a lot of thoughts, test drives, and several visits to car dealers, we finally came to a conclusion. A second hand Toyota Auris, with which we could easily travel to southern Europe, was very economical (hybrid) and had the right size as well. So we went to the car dealer for the third time but what do you think? Right, the car was already sold. In my opinion, we were back to square one. So I decided to borrow the alternative option, the car (with a working air conditioning) from my parents.

Once back from vacation, the agenda is full again but the search for a hybrid or electric car continues. No more delays! Fortunately, the proposal with the city’s policy rules for charging stations is on the agenda for the coming months. Hopefully this will result in more customization for owners of electric cars. And even better: for my work, I just use my bicycle and public transport. How sustainable can you be…

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