Skyline Eindhoven © Norbert van Onna
Author profile picture

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.

The end of the year is approaching. My agenda is fuller than ever because there is often the feeling that the world will stop turning after January 1st. Honestly speaking, as an alderman I go along in that feeling. I would like to complete a few important files so that in the new year we can immediately start implementing a new climate plan and our first natural gas-free testing ground, ‘t Ven.

Regardless of the deadlines, this Christmas period will be a period of reflection, especially because of the bizarre and uncertain times in which we live as a result of the global corona pandemic. In fact, the reflection already started for me during the political debate on the new climate plan of the municipality of Eindhoven. Questions such as ‘can we, in Eindhoven, mean anything at all in a global climate issue’, ‘do the Corona-obsessed times in which we now live still offer room to invest in the climate’ and ‘should the national government not come up with more resources to implement the climate agreement on a local scale’?

A brief reflection, because I can only say yes to all three questions. The Corona pandemic has shown us the importance of having good and pleasant green spaces in the city to escape to, away from your laptop for a while. In addition, there is only one way out of the climate crisis, and that is by investing as a government in major issues such as climate adaptation and the energy transition. That also creates jobs. These investments by the government, particularly the national government and Europe, are desperately needed in order to make a local contribution to solving the global climate problem.

A councilor put it nicely in the council debate. Ideally, you would like to put an umbrella over the city of Eindhoven, so you can take full responsibility for your CO2 emissions yourself. But of course, that is a utopia. There are big steps to be taken all over the world and then Eindhoven’s contribution is a pinprick. Still, doing nothing is not an option for me. Not only will it be a very gloomy 2021, but we as a city will also be confronted with the negative effects of climate change in the coming decades. And then we will be completely unprepared. We have to act now.

Especially in these difficult times and the dark days before a different Christmas than usual, I have been looking forward to everything that will be possible again in 2021. 2021 will be the year of implementation, working towards concrete projects with residents, companies and other authorities. I am really looking forward to that! On to a better world. Worldwide and certainly also in Eindhoven.

And personally I wish everyone a lot of health, wisdom and inspiration for the new year.