Clear climate warning for next Flemish government: we are far from meeting the targets

If Flanders wants to slash CO2 emissions by 35 percent by 2030 (compared to 2005), it will have to invest between 3 and 12 billion euros each year. That's according to the SERV, the social-economic council for Flanders which unites employers and trades unions. 

Flanders is far from meeting its climate targets. In fact, it's a public secret that we won't meet the 2020 goals. These were set at a reduction of 15.7 percent, but in 2016 we were only at -0.4 percent. "The forecast for 2020 is that we will land between -6 and -10 percent", says Annemie Bollen, a climate and energy expert working for the SERV. 

So maybe we can meet the 2030 aim then? Everything is possible, but of course we will have to speed up a little bit and take more action. The SERV calculated that between 3 to 12 billion in investments will be needed to meet the 2030 target; 12 billion is about a quarter of the total Flemish year budget. Most cash will go to the renovation of houses and buildings: the better insulated these are, the less fossil fuels will be needed for heating. Other investments concern sustainable energy: solar panels, heat pumps etc.  

The whole government, the different ministers, will have to work together to tackle the issue

It has been calculated that families will have to invest between 40,000 and 60,000 euros on average to adapt their homes to meet the (strong) climate targets. Many families don't have this money. The SERV also underlines that the building sector will need extra workers and energy specialists, about 250,000. But reducing emissions is also about transport and mobility, and woodlands, for example. 

The SERV is afraid that Flemish politicians don't realise how urgent the problem is. SERV specialists also highlight another problem: climate issues are connected to several policy areas, which means that all politicians will have to work together to move forward, says SERV president Caroline Copers. "It is about mobility, infrastructure, the budget, taxation... it involves all areas of our government in the future. They need to work fast and thoroughly on the matter."