Dear Cabinet, esteemed members of the House of Representatives,
We, civil servants from various ministries, provinces, municipalities, and other government agencies, are deeply concerned about the slow implementation of measures to address the climate and ecological crisis. Therefore, we urge the Cabinet and the members of the House of Representatives to:
The consequences of global warming are already significant for both the Netherlands and the world, and they will only worsen. The science upon which we, as civil servants, base our policies is clear: we have limited time to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees. However, there are inconsistencies in government actions and a persistent lack of urgency.
Two recent examples clearly illustrate this. The government claims to strive for a leading role in Europe when it comes to addressing the climate and ecological crisis. Yet, the government and a portion of the House of Representatives actively oppose the European Nature Restoration Law, which is an important cornerstone of European Climate Policy. Furthermore, large fossil fuel companies continue to receive subsidies and tax incentives, despite successive cabinets having promised since 2009(1), through agreements and commitments, to phase them out and abolish them by 2020.
As civil servants, we have taken an oath of office. Although it may vary across government agencies, its core remains the same: we work for the common good, the well-being of all citizens, and the constitution. We pledge to act with integrity and conscience, and to form an independent moral judgment on the correctness of our actions.
With the privilege of contributing to policy as civil servants comes the duty to issue warnings when necessary. The importance of this duty has been emphasized in the Benefits Scandal. We now raise our concerns regarding the approach to the climate crisis. We see that there are sound policies and clear scientific evidence, but despite the decisions already made, the urgent implementation thereof lags behind.
We observe that the government is failing to fulfill its duty of care. In the Urgenda Climate Case (2), the court explicitly reminded the government of its duty of care to protect human rights. We are now rapidly approaching our limits: those of our planet and of ourselves. Acting as civil servants with integrity, in line with our rights and obligations, can only be achieved if we genuinely do what is necessary to justly address the climate and ecological crisis. As part of that approach, we now make the above-mentioned call to you as the Cabinet and members of the House of Representatives.
Concerned civil servants from various government agencies in the Netherlands
1) Agreement in 2009 in G20 context; Agreement in 2013 with the EU to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2020; Pledge at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 to do the same; Motion adopted by Van der Lee et al. (Parliamentary Paper 30175, no. 271) on phasing out tax incentives that counteract Dutch climate goals.