U.S.-Netherlands Partnership Addresses Water and Climate Issues

As the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy reached its peak on October 30, 2012, the New Jersey city of Hoboken was left flooded, without power, and cut off from the communities around it.  A key rail transit station was submerged and 20,000 people stranded.

Hurricane Sandy was an extreme case, but the threats facing Hoboken and similar communities are likely to get worse.  In early May, President Obama released the National Climate Assessment, which details the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future.  The assessment makes clear the gravity of the threats that coastal cities in the United States face and how changing rainfall patterns will disrupt farms and river communities.

As we prepare to face these threats, we are fortunate to have a vital and growing partnership with Dutch water management officials, knowledge institutes, and businesses.  One beneficial result of this was the detailing of senior official Henk Ovink from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to support our recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy.  This collaboration also ignited Dutch-U.S. private-sector innovation through a special competition called “Rebuild by Design,” initiated by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.  It is no surprise that four of the six winning teams included Dutch participants, all leaders in their fields of engineering and design.

I recently hosted a roundtable discussion with Ovink and Dutch designers, engineers, and architects participating in the competition to share their projects with water management professionals here in the Netherlands.  Having grown up in Northern New Jersey, near some of the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, I was deeply moved by the creative and thoughtful solutions the teams developed.

Yet even as we work to safeguard our communities, we also recognize that we must take steps to avoid the worst potential consequences of climate change.  President Obama has committed the United States to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels; in 2012, our emissions fell to the lowest level in two decades.  The United States and the Netherlands share a goal to keep warming below two degrees above pre-industrial levels.  We have already implemented significant energy efficiency measures and more than doubled the electricity we generate from wind and solar sources since 2009.  On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed Clean Power Plan that aims to reduce emissions from U.S. electricity plants 30 percent by 2030.

Together with our European partners, we are making important progress.  The United States and the European Union are working together to deploy clean energy technology.  We are mindful of the need for cheap, abundant, and clean energy sources in less-developed countries striving to provide greater prosperity for their citizens.  We are also working with the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and others to limit support for coal-fired power plants in developing countries.

For the world to overcome the enormous threat climate change poses, we need each country to do everything within its power to pursue cleaner and healthier energy sources -- much as the Netherlands is doing through its Energy Accord.  We also need to pursue the UN climate negotiations with vigor and determination toward an ambitious global agreement in Paris in 2015.  We are particularly looking forward to joining the UN Climate Summit on September 23 to galvanize action for a meaningful global agreement in 2015.

Our cities and towns on both sides of the Atlantic have borne witness over the centuries to the awesome power of coastal storms.  The Netherlands’ and the United States’ centuries-old partnership is ready to combat climate change.  As the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands and a New Jersey native, cooperating on our efforts to reduce emissions and to protect coastal communities are personal priorities -- priorities shared at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

About the Author: Timothy Broas serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands.

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Martin H.
|
Illinois, USA
February 4, 2015

U.S.-Netherlands Water and Climate Issues with clean energy technology Timothy Broas, U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, discusses this issues, and his nominated by U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands on January 6, 2014.
Regards: Martin Hall

Coast of the Netherlands
Posted by Timothy Broas
September 23, 2014

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