Gov't advised to opt for green recovery after coronavirus crisis

Construction site in Urk brought to a standstill by the coronavirus, 28 March 2020
Construction site in Urk brought to a standstill by the coronavirus, 28 March 2020fokkebokDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Once the coronavirus crisis is over, the Dutch government must opt for a recovery plan that promotes the economy and employment in the Netherlands and that contributes to sustainability, the Council for the living environment and infrastructure said on Friday. The council advised speeding up housing construction and making existing homes more sustainable, and pausing plans to build roads, reports.

"The lockdown has saved us from a sprawling pandemic for the time being, but has also contributed to a significant economic downturn," the council said. But we have now entered a phase in which the economy can recover with the help of measures, the council said, and the government needs to make sure it takes measures that promote sustainability and economic recovery in the Netherlands.

The council advised making existing homes sustainable more quickly and accelerating the construction of new homes. The subsidy scheme for insulating homes must be expanded so that citizens are able increase the sustainability of their homes. And the placement of solar panels must be encouraged, the council said.

According to the council, the government can stop investing in the construction of new roads for the time being, partly because these are needed les now that more people are working from home. "Mobility has fallen to lower levels during rush hour, working online has become an accepted form of work in broad sections of the population, and we are proving willing to limit our travel," the council said. The money set aside for new roads can better be used for other measures, the council said.

The implementation of the climate agreement and the transition to a CO2-free economy must be given priority, the council said. Rural areas must be made sustainable and electric driving and cycling must be encouraged. Since this means that many charging points have to be built, this can also lead to more employment. 

Earlier this week the social and cultural planning office SCP warned that people who are already vulnerable on the labor market are most at risk of losing their jobs in the coronavirus crisis. The SCP advised the government to put extra effort in finding them new work, because the longer they live in poverty, the less chance they have of ever getting out of it again. 

Netherlands residents also proved very willing to switch to electric driving, as could be seen by 10 million euros in subsidy for buying a new electric car being claimed within a week.