Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) must quickly convene a thematic council of ministers on the climate crisis, says Vooruit chairman Conner Rousseau in interviews with De Morgen and the Belga press agency. For example, the climate plans from the federal coalition agreement must finally be made concrete.
With the thematic Council of Ministers, Vooruit wants to answer the question of how Belgium will meet the European standard to reduce CO2 emissions by 26 million tons by 2030. “The climate will rise one and a half degrees faster than the experts expected. We don’t have to wait any longer to jump into action,” said Rousseau.
At the same time, the Vooruit chairman emphasizes that climate policy will be “socially just or not”. The costs must be distributed fairly, so that everyone can participate. For example, Rousseau looks at the European emissions trading system: “Now European companies pay taxes to be allowed to emit emissions, but they get that money back without many conditions through Flemish subsidies. We would better redistribute that money and use it to help families pay the energy bill,” says the Vooruit chairman.
In the run-up to the budget preparation, Rousseau also wants to cut back on subsidies for fossil fuels. Specifically, he looks at the discount on professional diesel for the transport sector. Goods companies initially pay ‘too much’ excise duties on fuel, after which they can reclaim part of the excise duties paid. In 2015, this still cost the state treasury 184 million euros, but by 2019 that amount rose to no less than 733 million euros. “No other European country spends so much money on subsidies for professional diesel. Do we really have to do that if we are just looking for ways to reduce CO2 emissions?”, Rousseau wonders.
At the same time, Rousseau believes that the federal government should increase investment in solar and wind energy. “Wherever the government can (on car parks, roofs and sites), it must invest in ways to generate renewable energy”.
Investing in rail also places Vooruit on the agenda: “A study by Deloitte shows that every euro you invest in rail yields 3 euros for the Belgian economy. Investing in rail for fewer traffic jams, fewer emissions and more time at home and more economic growth,” concludes Rousseau.
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