Flemish Minister for Environment Joke Schauvliege (CD&V) dismisses Greenpeace’s criticism of the insufficient measures taken against air pollution. “Greenpeace brings out a real problem, but I am not convinced that it is using the best of methods to do so,” she reacted Monday on the De Ochtend program (Radio 1), following the summons to appear launched by the NGO to Flemish and Walloon Governments.
In her defense, the Minister took the example of the low emission zones already in force in the centre of Antwerp. “I do not rule out that other cities and municipalities will follow, and that they will apply even stricter standards,” declared Ms. Schauvliege.
She recognizes, however, that European limits are not respected in several places, especially because of the large number of diesel-motor vehicles in Belgium. “But we cannot say overnight: get rid of your car.” The Minister adds that the ban on diesel-motor vehicle sales, as several European countries have implemented, is not on the agenda in Flanders.
Ms. Schauvliege insists that she confident that the courts will rule. The NGOs which introduced similar actions in other countries have sometimes won but have also known a few defeats. Moreover, she regrets that only the regional Governments be mentioned, for several competencies in the fight against pollution remain within the federal domain. “Everyone must assume one’s own responsibility: the municipalities; the State; Europe,” she concludes.
Groen deplores the weakness of the Minister’s reaction. Deputy Elizabeth Meuleman believes that “when a minister is summoned by citizens to appear before the judge, it should serve as a warning.” “For Minister Schauvliege, it is a daily routine, and yet she still doesn’t get it!”