According to the Dutch Climate Act, CO2 emissions must be 49 percent lower than in 1999 by 2030. A near impossible feat if we look at the current time frame. In 2021, according to the national statistical office CBS, the Netherlands emitted only 13 percent less CO2 compared to 1999. In 30 years, the Netherlands has only dropped 13 percent of its emissions. In the next seven years, we need to reduce emissions with another 36 percent.
Time to act. But if there is anything we can be sure of, it is that the Dutch government will continue to delay and procrastinate. Currently, Rutte IV hopes to reduce national emissions by building two new nuclear power plants in Borssele. The government is investing as much as 5 billion (!) euros in this, hoping that by 2035 these nuclear power plants will provide 9 to 13 percent of the Netherlands’ energy needs. On the surface these plants may seem like a sustainable measure, but they amount to another 5 billion euros and a 10-year delay.
Stroom naar de Toekomst
Those who live in Zeeland, unfortunately, have little to say about the plans of the government in their province. The Hague will decide next year whether the new power plants will be build; the province of Zeeland has no say in it. The citizens’ initiative Stroom naar de Toekomst refused to sit idly by while politicians decide over the future of their province. In the run-up to the provincial elections in March, Stroom naar de Toekomst distributed tens of thousands of posters and organized four discussion evenings to discuss the future of nuclear energy in the Netherlands.
The initiative was a great success. The collective was featured in national and regional media, and discussion evenings allowed citizens to share their concerns with local politicians. In Zeeland, PVDA/GL, the only party against building more nuclear power plants, became the second largest party with six seats.
But Stroom naar de Toekomst has a long-term perspective. By focusing on movement building, it hopes to make the construction of additional nuclear power plants a political issue leading up to 2024, when the government will definitively decide on construction.
Nuclear Power isn’t sustainable
Het Actiefonds supports Stroom naar de Toekomst. Nuclear power is expensive, time-consuming, dangerous and a repetition of extractivist moves. A true green transition requires renewable resources. On top of this, the government and many citizens vastly underestimate the danger of nuclear power plants. The recent fear of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine shows war can quickly lead to an ecological catastrophe.
But a meltdown is also in a small corner. Former director of the reactor center in Petten Frans Saris writes in the Dutch review of Books how in 2001 a nuclear disaster in North Holland was narrowly avoided as a result of staff clumsiness. “Nuclear power plants are a factor of fifty more unsafe because of human error,” he concludes. The promises of minute risks are a paper reality that do not take into account the the unpredictability of human actions. Building more power plants is therefore a dangerous policy for the long and near-term future of the Netherlands and the planet.