Dutch News in brief, Tuesday 20 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
Environmental change on the agenda
Change. It’s the environment, stupid. It may or may not be a coincidence, but in any event today’s newspapers report on speeches by two of the Netherlands’ most influential people calling for a concerted worldwide effort to save the environment by changing the way we use energy. Needless to say, preventing climate change has been one of Barack Obama’s major themes.
Wouter Bos: The crisis is not financial, it is environmental
De Volkskrant publishes part of a speech which Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos – he is also deputy prime minister and leader of the Labour Party – is giving today in Brussels. He argues that the current crisis is “more moral than financial”.
“It should not only concern regulation and supervision but also the balance between having more and having enough, between sustainable development and quick profit, between short term and long term (thinking), between moderation and greed.”
Mr Bos says the above imbalance in moral values forms the basis for the present energy, climate and food price crises. But although financial crises always blow over, “The climate crisis is not cyclic and will only get worse.” The finance minister says the urgency with which the international community is dealing with the banking and credit crisis is another reason to be sombre.
“Whoever compares the billions which are being coughed up around the world – and especially the speed with which it is happening – and compares this with what is being spent for the climate and the fight against hunger is in for a rude awakening…Now is the time that leadership is needed on a worldwide scale…We don’t have all that much choice. It is now or never!”
Willem-Alexander: Foundations for a sustainable future
The mass circulation daily De Telegraaf reports on the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dubai where Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander told participants: “Let us look further than the current financial and economic crisis and lay the foundations for a sustainable future.” The newspaper has a charming picture of Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima in modern clothing and another photograph of Princess Maxima covered in a black veil, with only her face showing, whilst visiting a mosque.
Crown-Prince Willem Alexander spoke about the possibilities offered by solar energy. “The Earth absorbs enough sunlight every 30 minutes to supply the world with energy for a year.” De Telegraaf writes that this alternative to oil is also good news for the oil sheiks whose countries have vast deserts. The Dutch crown prince emphasised that international cooperation is needed to use solar power on such a vast scale. “After 2050, large-scale solar power stations in deserts, connected to border-crossing and intercontinental networks, could provide a fundamental solution for the energy crisis.”
Privatisation has “gone too far”
“The privatisation of our country’s electricity and gas sector has gone too far and should be reversed.” The above conclusion received the overwhelming support of readers of De Telegraaf. In its daily opinion poll, no less than 89% of the more than 2,500 respondents agreed that the energy sector should not be left in the hands of the free market.
A large majority also opposes the 9.3 billion euro sale of the Dutch energy company Essent to the German firm RWE. The Dutch cabinet has said it cannot block the sale. However, the newspaper’s readers want the government to “prevent the deal at all costs”. De Telegraaf writes that RWE is one of “Europe’s biggest polluters” and that its readers fear the sale of Essent will lead to a “steep rise in the price of electricity and gas”.
Politicians and journalists “lack discipline”
“Separating waste was too much bother for members of the Lower House of Parliament. Since the New Year food leftovers will again be thrown into one big pile in parliament’s three restaurants,” writes De Telegraaf. Previously, politicians, staff and journalists would deposit their paper napkins, plastic packages, kiwi peels and glass pots in separate containers.
The head of parliament’s information service, Jos Jochemsen says: “Not everyone disposed of enough discipline to separate their leftovers. Maybe it did not happen on purpose, but we could only offer (what was deposited in the containers) as polluted waste.”
I’d like to report a UFO
AD reports that hundreds of worried people called emergency services recently after sighting an orange UFO. Others believed they saw a burning airplane. However Läslo Evers of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute says they saw no such thing. The orange flare was what he describes as a “Danish fireball”. “The fireball was caused by a meteor which broke up in the atmosphere above Scandinavia.”
Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/Expatica