With the upcoming elections in the Netherlands, people have a hard time deciding who to vote for. Therefore, a lot of organizations are giving people advice on who to vote for. Besides this advice, there is a “stemwijzer” available and there are of course the opinions of your friends and family that can help you decide. All of these different views and sources of information can be pretty overwhelming. Added to which, the questions asked in these kind of “stemwijzers” do not always correspond with the topics you find most important. Leiden University Green Office will also try to help you decide which party to support, keeping in mind that it is our office’s main goal to help make the University and of course the entire planet more sustainable.

We will give you some insights in what the different parties promise regarding climate change, energy use and sustainability. We have focused on the parties that are currently represented in the Second Chamber of Parliaments. By doing so, we hope to provide you with an overview of the positions from the different parties on a topic that you find important; sustainability.

Most of the parties within the Second Chamber of Parliaments do not prioritize sustainability in their election manifesto, or, as in the case of the PVV, do not mention it at all. However, some parties, for example the Party for the Animals and GroenLinks, have a broad vision of sustainability in the future. One possible explanatory factor for this difference could be the length of the election manifestos. Some parties have an extensive manifesto and go into detail for all of their plans for the next four years and thus also on the topic sustainability. Other parties have a more general manifesto and do not go into depth at all. It is therefore possible that they do have some good plans concerning sustainability but their sustainable plans may be underexposed. However, we will do our best to provide you with an as complete as possible overview.

As said before, all the different parties – with exception of the PVV – have adopted sustainability in their manifestos. The measures they want to take are however pretty different, especially when you compare the leftwing parties with the rightwing parties. The “new” leftwing parties like GroenLinks and Party for the Animals have dedicated many pages of manifesto program to sustainability, while the middle and rightwing parties only mention it a few times. CDA, known as a farmers party in the middle of the political spectrum has missed some really good opportunities here. They always focus a lot of attention and money on agriculture, a field which can become much more sustainable in the future. However, they hardly pay any attention to this side of agriculture. All they mention is the idea of creating sustainable wildlife management and implementing an easy way for sustainable harvesting. The party for the Animals does however spend a large part of their manifesto on Agriculture. For example, they want to reduce the use of pesticides by farmers and integrate sustainability within the educational manifesto for farmers. Besides this, they want to have a closed system in all the aspects of agriculture which results in zero waste.

The party for the Animals is the party with the most ambitious plans regarding sustainability. They want to implement some drastic sustainable policy changes in the next four years. As mentioned above they want to change the guidelines and rules for agriculture. Besides this they want to implement an entire new “green” tax system in which non-sustainable products will fall into a higher tax rate than sustainable products, in order to financially stimulate the market for sustainable products. Another innovative idea is the idea of a “green” profit and loss year budget in which the effects on nature, animals and humankind are calculated. This should be implemented to get an overview of the long term costs for planet earth regarding policy. The Party for the Animals, but GroenLinks as well, also propose a green investment bank where green initiatives can borrow money for a low interest. GroenLinks also proposes a new and greener tax system, with higher taxes for CO2 pollution. Another financial measure Groenlinks wants to introduce is extra money for climate support in third world countries on top of the already given development aid.

The SGP has an interesting view on subsidies for sustainable initiatives. This party wants to reduce the subsidies provided for wind turbines and to rather invest these savings in energy reduction and innovation. The question remains whether this is the right area to cut if the Netherlands intends to become more sustainable. On the positive side, the SGP wants to cut subsidies of coal plants, and wants to give households who produce their own energy some tax privileges.

Another ambitious measure proposed by the Party for the Animals is focused on the reduction of energy use. They want to make the Netherlands CO2-neutral by 2040. To accomplish this goal many new laws will be implemented, for example they will introduce higher taxes on fossil energy to promote sustainable energy, and make it obligatory for housing foundations to insulate their buildings. The other parties have a less ambitious goal for CO2-neutralilty in the Netherlands. Some parties do not mention it at all, but those that do – SGP and GroenLinks for example – are aiming for a (partly) CO2-neutral Netherlands in 2050.

Nevertheless, there are also some parties with good ideas not mentioned by the Party for the Animals. D66, GroenLinks and 50Plus would like to install a Minister of Climate and Environment. If this minister were to be installed, a whole ministry would be dedicated to sustainability which could create some real impact in the Netherlands and hopefully outside the Netherlands as well. “Outside the Netherlands” is also a popular topic discussed in the manifestos different parties. Almost all of the parties, including the parties with less sustainability in their manifesto like VVD and PvdA endorse the importance of International Agreements or laws within the EU to prevent polluting companies to move to a different country. Most of the parties also emphasize the example setting role the government must uphold for their citizens. The government should for example only purchase green tenders and have a 100% sustainable housing in 2050.

This is of course only a broad overview of the different positions of the parties regarding sustainability. Most of the parties have a lot more plans for a sustainable future, but it is not possible to discuss all of the ideas from each party. If you would like to know the exact positions of the parties, you can take a look at the programs of the different parties on their websites.

The general conclusion of this article is that the left wing parties have more ambitious plans regarding sustainability than the right wing parties. However, some of these rightwing parties have some innovative ideas that are not reflected in the ideas of the leftwing parties, which is a big plus for these parties. Besides this, while sustainability is of course a very important topic, other topics should also be taken into consideration whilst determining who to cast your vote on.

We hope to have hereby given you some more insight in the sustainable plans of the different parties, but encourage you to further broaden your knowledge on the positions of the parties. And most of all, we emphasize the importance of voting at all whether you vote for a “sustainable” party or not.

See you in the voting booth!

Written by: Benthe Koster