Pro-climate action parties triumph in Dutch elections

Intro

The press had sold yesterday’s Dutch elections as the story of the rise of the far-right. Yet, as the results show, the real story was the significant rise of pro-environment parties that prioritise tackling climate change. GreenLeft, in particular, headed by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver massively increased its number of seats in parliament with his call for people to “stand for your principles. Be straight. Be pro-refugee. Be pro-European.” His party spoke of “hope” “optimism” and “change” during the election campaign and warned it was rightwing populism, not Muslim immigration, that was undermining Dutch culture and traditions. This is the second nail in the coffin for the far-right in Europe after the victory of former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen over Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party to become President of Austria last December. Such results bear out recent research showing that Europeans want climate action and they want it now. Indeed, as research released this week shows, climate adaptation and mitigation measures are needed urgently with forecasts suggesting Europe could suffer severe coastal flooding every year by the end of the century. Following the fossil fuel mania of Donald Trump is not an option for Europe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have the chance to make it clear to the US President when she meets him on Friday that climate action is good for global prosperity and security.

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Key Points

  • Pro-environment parties that prioritise tackling climate change have greatly increased their number of seats in the Dutch parliament in yesterday’s election. Support for the two most pro-EU parties, the progressive D66 and GreenLeft, was way up on 2012, and the Greens did best of all by almost quadrupling their vote share, jumping from four seats to 14 in the parliament. This follows the victory of former Greens leader Alexander Van der Bellen over Norbert Hofer of the anti-immigration Freedom Party to become President of Austria last December and underlines the fact that many Europeans want climate action.

 

  • Climate action to fight and adapt to climate change is urgently needed in Europe with new research showing that extreme coastal flooding could hit Europe annually by the end of the century. Such “rare catastrophic events” that today hit parts of Europe roughly once every hundred years could become commonplace “as the climate continues to change”. The study is the first to take into account sea level rise due to warming temperatures and the impacts of climate change on storm surge and wave activity.

 

  • On Friday German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet US President Donald Trump and have the opportunity to underline the need for global climate action. Speculation has been rife that Trump may take the US out of the Paris climate deal, but the US President has not yet indicated what he plans to do. This week’s meeting will be an important signal for the July G20 Summit hosted by Germany, arguably the most important meeting of the year for international climate issues.

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