Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 9 December 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.No Christmas tree decision draws criticism
A board decision of The Hague University (THU) to not put up a Christmas tree has sparked a “national outrage”.
De Telegraaf wrote “the THU’s decision not to put up the traditional Christmas tree this year because of the large number of non-Western students has spread dismay across the nation”.
According to the paper, students, council members, parliament and no less than 1,000 De Telegraaf readers have expressed their outrage at THU’s yuletide blasphemy.
One of the more subtle reader comments suggested the school board should be “covered in tar and Christmas decorations”, clearly a more festive variant on the time-honoured corporal punishment of tarring and feathering.
de Volkskrant wrote Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, in its unrelenting campaign to prove that Western traditions are perishing under an Islamic onslaught, “hardly could have wished for a better Christmas present, particularly as the party is about take part in local elections in The Hague for the first time.
Local politician Abdu Khoulani of the Islam Democrats said: “This is so inept, there have been no signals whatsoever from our supporters suggesting that a Christmas tree would be considered offensive”.
THU Communications Director Annelies van Rosmalen said the decision was a little less politically inspired: “The decision was all mine. I hated that tree and thought to myself ‘let’s go for something different this year’. However, with my phone ringing off the hook, I can tell you that right now I would love nothing better than to see that fake tree standing here”.
However, an internal memo of THU said the decision was taken “To emphasise the international character and diversity of the student body”.
Pro Rail aims to supply electricity via road surface
ProRail, the company that operates the Dutch railway network, announced its plans to become a major supplier of induction power for electrical cars, said De Telegraaf.
The company has already negotiated agreements with the cities of Amsterdam, Den Bosch and Maastricht on the delivery of recharging poles at railway stations.
However, ProRail CEO Bert Klerk said: “That’s an old technique, in a few years we will be supplying induction power via the road surface. Cars will no longer get their power by plugging into an outlet, but simply by driving along the motorway, or waiting at a traffic light.”
The main advantage of the new technique is unlimited range for electric cars, which is presently limited to about 200 kilometres.
Klerk said the step is a logical one for ProRail: “100 years ago we electrified the railways, and now the motorways”.
Traffic Minister Camiel Eurlings has already granted ProRail permission to explore the power market for electric cars.
Netherlands need to have standardised recharging pole
de Volkskrant wrote the race for a standardised recharging pole for electric cars in the Netherlands is on.
Currently, owners of an electric car seeking to recharge their environmentally responsible vehicles are facing a slew of obstacles. Car owners have to apply for a special card before they can charge their cars.
However, the problem is that different power companies use different recharging poles. In Amsterdam, the council is working with the Nuon power company to create a network of 200 recharging poles across the city.
In Rotterdam, the council adopts a different scheme known as Nrgspots which uses a different type of recharging pole, card and plug.
de Volkskrant pointed out drivers wanting to travel from Amsterdam to Rotterdam “will have to properly prepare themselves, and well in advance”.
On a national level, there is a third group active, called E-laad, a conglomerate of electricity network companies, which plans to roll out a national network of 10,000 recharging poles over the next three years.
None of the three systems is compatible with any of its counterparts. Nor are they likely to become compatible any time soon, as all three parties expect their system to set the standard, not just in the Netherlands, but across Europe.
Spokespersons for both E-laad and Nrgspots said they have held discussions with major car manufactures on standardisation of the type of plug to be used.
Copenhagen climate summit is economic summit
Trouw published an article by sustainability professor Taco van Someren from the Nyenrode business university and his wife Shuhua van Someren-Wang, international business development manager at the Ynnovate consultancy firm founded by her husband.
The opinion piece focused on innovation, sustainability and ‘Chinese business development’.
In their article, the authors argued that while the “official objective of the Copenhagen summit is reaching agreement on limitations of greenhouse gas emissions, in practice there is an underlying, much more important, objective: who wins hegemony over the future environmental market?”
The global environmental market already boasted a turnover running into hundreds of billions of euros, and is growing fast. Copenhagen will become a power struggle, between the US, China and some European countries. A new climate treaty, now or later, will lead to a new global redistribution of needed environmental investments and the development of new future sectors.”
The two authors went on to give a summation of the efforts made the respective players in the field.
In conclusion, they argued that: “A new symbiosis between government leaders, corporations and scientists is intended to create and divide the largest market of the future. In short, Copenhagen has long ago ceased to be an environmental conference. It looks more like an economic summit.”
Temperatures to drop below freezing next week
After the second-warmest November was recorded last month (the warmest was in 1994), meteorologists are saying now temperatures will drop to below freezing next week.
On its front page, AD reported “the first snow will fall next week”.
According to meteorologist Johnny Willemsen it is still too early to start thinking about ice-skating, “but we may see some snowfall as early as Monday evening or Tuesday morning”.
“It is too early to say whether the snowfall will continue, but it may be a good sign for a white Christmas?”
Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica