25 April 2017 • HOP, by Irene Schoenmacker
Professors want to green the economy
The new cabinet should invest more in sustainability and green energy, according to an open letter signed today by ninety professors. Around two hundred billion euros will be needed for this in the future.
The Netherlands still languishes at the bottom of the tables when it comes to sustainable energy, academics warned today in an open letter to the newly formed cabinet. The researchers made twelve recommendations to turn this situation around.
Firstly, a Minister of Energy and Climate should be appointed, who should deal with the so-called “energy transition”. The first task of this minister would be to introduce a climate act that clearly states climate goals.
In the view of the researchers, the guiding principle should be “the polluter pays”. For instance, a CO2 tax could be introduced as in Sweden. The money generated by this could be then used to compensate people on low incomes. A kilometre-based road charge should further curb CO2 emissions and the five remaining coal-powered stations should be closed within three years.
Education plays a crucial role in this greening process. The academics recommend giving the theme of sustainability an important place in the curriculum. In this way, we will be able to properly prepare children and young people for a sustainable world. Vocational education could increase innovation by creating “regional campuses” in which young people research topics such as climate change or the circular economy together with businesses.
The academics conceded that the changes will place many demands on citizens, businesses and the government. “However, the changes will also produce a lot: employment opportunities, innovation and a new economic perspective.”
The list of ninety professors is headed by Jan Rotmans, Professor of Transitions and Transition Management, who has been a long-time advocate of a green economy. He is the founder of Urgenda, the organisation that two years ago enforced through the courts that the Dutch government must take more action on drastically reducing CO2 emissions.