Noord-Brabant climate conference

On 4 April, some 150 new or re-elected Council Members from the province of Noord-Brabant were brought up to date on concrete tools for the local climate and energy policies to be pursued in their upcoming term of office, 2018-2022. The information was provided during the Noord-Brabant Climate Conference, organised by the Brabant Energy Alliance, a cooperative of some 16 parties, including the province of Noord-Brabant, the Brabant district water boards, and the municipalities of Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Breda, Helmond, and Tilburg. Delta Programme Commissioner Wim Kuijken joined a discussion chaired by Ed Nijpels, which addressed the importance of both climate mitigation and climate adaptation.

The conference started with an opening address by alderman Paul de Beer of the municipality of Breda, who sits on the Spatial Adaptation steering group. He stressed that the time is now ripe for all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel in order to achieve the energy policy targets. ‘Explaining issues that affect people generates acceptance,’ De Beer stated. He also called attention to a manifesto to be signed by local administrators from the provinces of Noord-Brabant, Zeeland, and Limburg during the Climate Summit for the southern provinces that will be held on 4 June. This Climate Flow South Manifesto sets out 10 ambitions pertaining to energy, the circular economy, climate adaptation, and commitment to collaboration.

Subsequently, discussion leader Ed Nijpels chaired a meeting addressing issues that are relevant to the upcoming Climate Agenda for all municipalities in the province of Brabant, issues such as collaborating on a regional energy vision (Willem Jaspers, consultant), the urgency of climate-neutral construction (Marjan Minnesma, Urgenda), agriculture in the new Climate Agreement (Pieter van Geel), and climate adaptation (Wim Kuijken). The Delta Programme Commissioner explained the importance of the three taskings addressed in the Delta Programme, zooming in on the Spatial Adaptation Delta Plan and the necessity of designing our country in a climate-proof and water-resilient manner. ‘No matter what, we will be faced with more extreme weather conditions, more peak downpours, and more periods of heat. It is imperative that we start to adapt. The stress test will help us map out urban vulnerabilities.’ When asked why the Delta Programme is so successful, he indicated that its success can be attributed to its approach, based on shared ownership, and to the Delta Act. The Delta Act stipulates that an annual Delta Programme must be drawn up that will report on the progress made, that a Delta Fund is set up covering some 1 billion euros annually, and that this process will be directed by an independent Delta Programme Commissioner. In conclusion, he indicated that in addition to working on climate adaptation under the Delta Programme, climate mitigation is equally important. ‘Adaptation and mitigation are two sides of the same coin. We really need to achieve the two degrees set out in the Paris agreement, in order to ensure that we keep the rising sea level under control. The liveability of our country is at stake here.’