Concerns Mount Over Wopke Hoekstra’s Potential Appointment as Climate Commissioner

In a world grappling with the urgent need to combat climate change, every appointment to a position of power has far-reaching consequences. The recent news of Dutch politician Wopke Hoekstra’s potential appointment as the Climate Commissioner for the European Union has sent shockwaves through the environmental community. While the world is looking for leaders who will prioritise effective mitigation methods to curb carbon emissions, Hoekstra’s connections to the fossil fuel industry and his likely focus on unproven carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology have raised concerns among environmentalists and concerned citizens alike.

Wopke Hoekstra: A Concerning Choice

Wopke Hoekstra, a prominent Dutch politician, has a background that raises red flags for those who are committed to combating climate change. Greenpeace has highlighted Hoekstra’s ties to the fossil fuel giant Shell and others have concerns over his cutting of foreign aid while serving as the Dutch Minister of Finance, not to mention his lack of experience on international climate issues. His potential appointment as Climate Commissioner sends a disconcerting message, as it appears to prioritise the short term economic interests of our current high carbon system.

Prioritising CCS over Mitigation Measures: Business As Usual For The Heavy Polluters

After setting a goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and an intermediary 2030 target of 55% emissions reductions from 1990 levels, the EU is currently debating and drawing up climate goals for 2040. A remit of the new Climate Commissioner will be to oversee discussions for the new emissions reduction target.

Another aspect of concern surrounding Hoekstra’s potential appointment is his likely focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as a way to meet our emissions reduction targets. CCS involves capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and power plants and storing them underground. While the idea behind CCS is theoretically promising, it remains largely unproven at scale, expensive and has been argued that it ‘allows polluters to keep polluting’. 

POW and others concerned about a preference for CCS over mitigation measures fear that it is a way for heavy polluters to avoid having to cut emissions and should be kept to ‘difficult-to-decarbonise’ sectors.

The Importance of Prioritising Mitigation

The scientific consensus is clear: immediate and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are essential to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Mitigation measures, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and reducing consumption, must be at the forefront of Europe’s climate strategy. These methods have a proven track record of reducing emissions and are essential in the fight against climate change. By prioritizing CCS over mitigation, there is a risk of diverting resources and attention away from solutions that are already making a positive impact.

A Call to Action

The appointment of Wopke Hoekstra as the Climate Commissioner raises legitimate concerns about the direction of Europe’s climate policy.

As concerned citizens and environmental advocates, we must raise our voices against the potential appointment of Wopke Hoekstra as the Climate Commissioner. We need a leader who will prioritise science-based, proven methods for mitigating from further impacts of climate change, not someone with ties to the fossil fuel industry and a motive for keeping ‘business as usual’.

We urge European leaders to carefully consider the implications of this appointment and ensure that climate action remains a top priority. Our planet’s future depends on it, and we cannot afford to make decisions that jeopardise our commitment to a sustainable and habitable world.

POW Europe was one of many concerned climate NGOs who have sent an open letter to President von der Leyen and Vice President Šefčovič voicing these concerns from our community.

We Move Europe have created a petition urging Members of the European Parliament as well as the President and Vice President of the European Commission to not award the portfolio to nominee Hoekstra. You can sign it here!