The tussle between supporters and detractors of the law on climate continued on Tuesday in the Belgian Chamber’s commission on constitutional revisions. The discussions took place under the watchful eye of a delegation of demonstrators mobilised since Sunday to put pressure on parliament to adopt an amendment that would enable the country to adopt the law and thus reinforce its climate targets.
Both sides have stuck to their positions and the bid to amend Article 7bis seems unlikely to obtain the two-thirds majority it would need at Thursday’s plenary session.
Hopes for a vote in favour of the proposed amendment lay with the Flemish liberals and Christian Democrats of the Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (Open Vld) and Christen Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) parties. However, they have not changed their minds.
The liberals spoke out virulently against the initiative, warning their colleagues once again against “government by judges”. “Parliament can close its doors and it’s the judges who will decide, without any democratic controls,” said Open Vld’s Luc Van Biesen.
The CD&V sees the law as a symbol that risks “blocking everything”. “Let’s move on right away to the next stage: we already have targets, let us now discuss how to achieve them,” said group leader Servais Verherstraeten, adding that the negotiations on the government accords after the elections will be the biggest test.
At the core of the debate is the question of the effectiveness of Belgium’s climate policy, whose targets are based on cooperation agreements, not laws. Negotiations on these instruments among the country’s entities tend to be very long and laborious whereas, proponents of the climate law warn, time is pressing. Global warming is racing towards the threshold of 1.5°C, above which it will no longer be controllable, they say.
They also feel Belgium’s performance on climate is poor. “Where are we today?” asked Ecolo’s Jean-Marc Nollet. “Nowhere! Worse still, CO2 emissions have increased! And you dare say a stronger legal framework is not needed?”