Speech during the meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action

Speech minister Van Weyenberg during the meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. Spoken word is leading. 

Thank you, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, for those insightful remarks. And a warm welcome to everyone here in The Hague. And your emphasis on a just, orderly and affordable transition is well heard. The Netherlands is also committed to mobilizing the private sector for a sustainable future and I look forward to working with you on this.

I am genuinely delighted to be among you today.

It's crucial to have this opportunity to address you, to foster mutual understanding, learn about concrete plans and commitments furthering the work of the Coalition.

As Co-Chairs, the Netherlands and Indonesia play a pivotal role, but the real impact comes from our collective efforts, and actions taken by all of the 92 member countries, in addressing the climate crisis.

The Netherlands assumed the Co-Chair position last year, recognizing the significant potential for catalyzing climate action when ministries of Finance engage in climate policy.

Ministers of Finance are vital in addressing climate change. We look at it from the perspective of cost efficiency, true pricing, and regulations for taxes and subsidies.

We set the stage for transitioning the economy towards a green and sustainable future. Through budget allocations, taxation and subsidy policy, we shape incentives for sustainable practices, fostering green investments and innovation.

By integrating climate considerations into financial frameworks and regulations set for the financial sector, we can propel nations towards resilient, low-carbon economies. These are fundamental issues. The government’s response to climate change is therefore too important to be left solely to climate ministers.

The first global stocktake on Paris Agreement implementation at COP28 underscored the considerable work remaining to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While at the same time, we are already witnessing the impacts of climate change in various ways in our own countries. Whether it’s a dengue epidemic in Bangladesh, extreme droughts in the Horn of Africa, or rising sea levels threatening the Bahamas.

For the Netherlands, we will champion two critical areas in the Coalition. First: we aim to advance work to phase out and repurpose harmful subsidies, including fossil fuel subsidies. Second: we want to make strides in financing adaptation action.

And we all have our own challenges in this regard, the Netherlands included. It has been calculated that my country provides fossil fuel subsidies amounting to 40 billion euros a year. At the same time, we observe that half of that originates from agreements on international exemptions, such as those in the aviation and shipping sector. This shows that we can only tackle this together.

In addition, creating and implementing national subsidy phase out strategies can be tricky. It is important to take into account the risk of leakage and maintain a level playing field. We believe the Coalition can contribute to this work by exchanging good practices, openly address implementation challenges and helping countries take practical steps towards phaseout and repurposing subsidies.

On financing adaptation action, we also need to be more involved as Finance ministers and ministries. When you travelled to get to this meeting, you might have seen the way the Netherlands has adapted to live under sea level. To continue maintaining our floodplain management system, also known as ‘Delta Works’, we created a fiscal planning cycle that secures sufficient long-term financing. This shows how the issue of climate adaptation requires our direct involvement.

We all bring valuable knowledge about the contexts of your own countries or regions, which is crucial when discussing the Coalition's work and impact over the next two years.

The strength of this climate coalition arises from the fact that all parts of the world, north and south, east and west, come together to learn from each other and, above all, to reinforce one another. From the Dutch perspective, we really look to learn from you as well.

The time for action is now. There is much to be done to ensure healthy economies and a swift response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt our world.

I wish you every success in building concrete and actionable plans for the next two years. We should encourage ourselves to be as specific as possible in our plans. We have each built expertise in different areas, and only together can we complete the puzzle.

We need to move from words to action.

When it comes to climate, we often focus in the Netherlands on 2050. That seems far away; but 2050 is closer than you think.

I like to compare it to Dutch soccer. In 1988, the Dutch male soccerteam won the European Championship. For many Dutch people, that sounds like yesterday. But it was 36 years ago. 2050 is 26 years in the future, so much closer than the European Championship is in the past.

Thank you.