The government must get on with energy transition, urge CEOs

Wind turbines close to the beach at Velsen Noord. Photo: DutchNews.nlWind turbines close to the beach at Velsen Noord. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The government must get its skates on when it comes to energy transition or the climate and the economy will suffer, according to the CEOs of Shell Nederland, Rotterdam port and energy firm Eneco, among others.

The Netherlands finds itself at an important crossroads: are we going to postpone the decision to achieve sustainable energy management or are we going to step up efforts to make energy transition happen?

We, the CEOs of a number of large energy sector corporations active in the Dutch market, are calling unequivocally for the acceleration of energy transition. As a transition coalition we urge the (next) government and parliament to prioritise energy transition and make it an important paragraph in the new government accord.

Under the Paris Agreement, the Netherlands committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050. We wholeheartedly embrace this ambitious goal. It offers opportunities to strengthen the economy and create more green prosperity. A drastic reduction in greenhouse gases is needed to limit climate change. For these two reasons we think the Dutch government should make haste with the implementation of energy transition.

Shared vision

The SER Energy Agreement  sets out a number of goals regarding the sustainability of energy management in the Netherlands in the years up to 2020 and 2023. These refer to energy saving measures and an increase in efforts to promote renewable energy. No agreement has been reached about the period after 2023. It’s not for lack of plans, reports and opinions. There are plenty of those. What is needed is a shared vision on the speed with which the transition is to take place and how it will be managed between 2020 and 2050.

We are convinced that energy transition is vital in the battle against climate change. We also see the acceleration of the transition as an opportunity to develop a new economy. In order to realise this we need an enterprising, stimulating government, one that creates space for companies to fulfill their role in the process.

That calls for long-term, integrated policies in the areas of climate, energy and economics. In order to be effective such policies need a consistent implementation at various administrative levels. That is the way to create a future in which sustainable products and markets can thrive and companies can invest, innovate and create new jobs.

Priority

We are convinced that investment and innovation and the application of new techniques will provide a boost to the Dutch economy. We are also convinced that Dutch companies have a world market to win with the knowledge and experience they will gain along the way. True, acceleration will be more expensive in the short-term but it will be profitable in the long-term. That is called entrepreneurship and looking ahead.

Energy transition will demand a great effort from citizens, authorities and companies. A quick and successful transition needs a multi-annual, robust policy framework. That is why we call on the government to give priority to:

  1. Drawing up climate legislation to implement the objectives of the Paris Agreement in 2050, with specific intermediary objectives in 2030 and 2040.
  2. Appointing a minister for economy, climate and energy who will ensure policy cohesion.
  3. Setting up an independent climate authority that binds the parties and calls them to account regarding a dynamic and consistent implementation, and guarantees the agreements made irrespective of which government is in power.
  4. Establishing a national investment bank to facilitate further innovation and major energy projects on land and sea.

There is no such thing as an exact blueprint for energy transition. But our commitment to it is clear: we embrace the climate agreement and we want to step up efforts to make it happen.

How exactly the transition will take shape in the coming decades is something we would like to discuss with authorities, NGOs, other companies and umbrella organisations, The agreements we will reach will have to be binding because they form the basis for investment.

In the past few weeks we have made contact with other Dutch companies about our call for an accelerated energy transition. At this moment some 40 companies have come out in support and their number is growing daily.

Ab van der Touw is CEO of Siemens Nederland

Allard Castelein is CEO of Havenbedrijf Rotterdam

Jeroen Haas is CEO of Eneco

Marjan van Loon is CEO of Shell Nederland

Pieter van Oors is CEO of Van Oord

This article was published earlier in the Volkskrant