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Lockdown will help Flanders reach 2020 climate goals

Pollution in Brussels. Credit: Belga

Flanders will likely reach its 2020 climate goals, but not thanks to its policy, the Flemish environmental organisation Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) warned on Thursday.

“The good news is that Flemish CO2 emissions have fallen sharply in recent months. The bad news is that this is not due to a strong climate policy, but to the coronavirus crisis,” according to BBL.

People are staying at home and driving less, “but it goes without saying that this is not a structural solution for the climate.”

Greenhouse gas emissions from non-industrial sectors (such as transport, housing, agriculture) could fall by up to 39.4 million tonnes in 2020, according to BBL. That would be a decrease of 10% compared to 2018, the last year for which figures are available.

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Flemish emissions would remain below the 40.1 million tonne threshold agreed on by Belgium’s different regions as part of the shared burden to achieve the 2020 European climate targets.

These figures are partially based on the estimates of the consultancy firm Sia Partners, which expects a drop of more than 50% of diesel consumption and 80% of petrol during the lockdown.

The organisation also took into account the mild winter, which has reduced heating needs by around 10% compared to 2018.

After the lockdown, “at best, more people will opt for cycling and companies and organisations will make homeworking structurally possible,” said BBL’s policy coordinator Mathias Bienstman. “In this way, we can retain part of the climate gain. But in addition, we need a strong climate policy that keeps investments at the right level,” he underlined.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

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