How Amsterdam wants to fight climate change

By Vincent Leb

A new study has found that the average temperature in Amsterdam has increased by nearly one degree since the start of the millennium. To limit the effects of climate change, the current city government has ambitious plans.

Climate change seems to have started in Amsterdam: According to data collected by the European Journalism Data Network, the average temperature in the 21st century is 0.9° higher than during the previous century. The report, which analysed 117 years of weather data in and around the city, also showed a massive increase in the number of average hot days per year, while the number of freezing days seems to have sharply declined. Moreover, Amsterdam has seen all five of its warmest years ever measured within the last 20 years.

As the effects of climate warming are becoming increasingly visible every year, the City Council has determined far-reaching goals for the future. The coalition agreement signed by GroenLinks, D66, PvdA and SP this spring states that Amsterdam should be (nearly) free of CO2 emissions by 2050. Ten years earlier, in 2040, the current city government wants the use of natural gas to be a thing of the past.

Battling natural gas

Already in this governance period, “three neighbourhoods will become completely gas-free. In at least one area we will focus on locally managed energy supply”, says Imane Nadif, spokesperson on energy and sustainability of GroenLinks, the council’s biggest party. Consequently, new neighbourhoods should be built with heat provided by local and sustainable sources as the municipality plans to impose additional requirements on the energy performance of buildings. To this day, natural gas heats around 90% of all households and businesses of the city, making the energy transition an essential task in reducing emissions.


Environment protection for everyone

Apart from natural gas, solar panels on every roof, more windmills in the city and public funding of climate-neutral buildings present the key measures the City Council wants to fight climate change in Amsterdam with. As Nadif points out, politics alone cannot stop global warming but can instead create circumstances under which more people use less resources. Therefore, a contact point is planned for Amsterdam’s locals to register regulations which are preventing the city from becoming greener – a move Nadif calls “a truly democratic energy transition involving all citizens.”