An open letter:

90 professors called together the house of Representatives of the Netherlands to actively act upon the green economy. Read here a summary of the letter the professors published (translated):

Since the signed climate agreement in Paris and the sustainable developments goals of the United nations in 2015 the world chose for sustainable energy, embedded in a clean and inclusive economy. Sharp Climate and sustainability goals are formulated and endorsed by 195 countries, that forms a gigantic exercise. From a linear, fossil powered and carbon based conomy to a circular, clean and based on green materials based economy.

For the Netherlands, the fossil economy is deep rooted into the society. This will become one of the largest challenges of the coming decades. Still, the Netherlands are scoring rather low in the rankings concerning sustainable energy and from all European countries the Netherlands are currently the farthest away from her sustainability goals. This has to change. Only a longterm effort, based on a consistent combination of vision, strategy and action, could help to make the Netherlands leader in the new economy.

Courage and leadership are necessary ingredients for this change, as the transition to a new, clean and inclusive economy does not only know winners but also losers. Everyone will suffer in their pocket, the government, companies and civilians. However, it will also deliver value: employment opportunities, innovation and a new economical perspective. Yet, the easy part of this big transition has past, but the hardest part is yet to come. The transformation to energy neutral houses, an industry based on green raw materials,  and to a decentralized, digital energy infrastructure. In short, the transition to a fossil free economy, an unprecedented challenge, similar to the industrial revolution and social modernization in the second half of the 19th century,

For this reason, we appeal formally to the new cabinet to largely invest in the new economy. The coming decades around 200 billion euros is necessary to build a new, smart infrastructure (for both digital and physical for energy, water  and mobility). This does not only concern ‘hardware’, but also ‘software’: investments in people, particularly knowledge, labour, education and new ways of organizing. This will eventually deliver societal profit: economical (hundred thousand jobs and innovation), ecological (realizing of the climate and sustainability goals), and social (social innovation, more viable and better prepared people). Will the Netherlands not invest on a large scale, then we will lose out with respect to other countries. Moreover, a division in society will impend, as a large group of people, for whom there is no useful work, will uncouple. From this perspective, we will come up with 12 concrete recommendations to accelerate the transition towards a new, green and inclusive economy in the short term. These recommendations concern different territories at the same time and lead to system changes in economic, social and legal sectors and therefore require integral implementation strategies.

1. Appoint a minister for energy and climate

This minister for energy and climate will get its own ministry. This new ministry will lead the energy transition, with its most important task to establish the climate act, wherein the climate goals will explicitly be reported.

2. Broad fiscal “greening”

This theme is essential for the new economy. ‘the polluter pays’ will become the standard. An example is the C02 tax, or the abolishment of the exemption on taxes for fossil energy producers, while energy saving and environment friendly activities, products and services will be stimulated.

3. Set a fair price for CO2 and introduce a CO2 charge.

This is an effective instrument of policy for reducing the CO2 emissions. More effective than the CO2-emission trade system that, in practice, does not seem to work as it consists of insufficient reinforcements to reduce CO2 emissions. The extra state revenue can in its place be invested in the new economy, and in compensation of ‘energy poverty’ for people with lower income. Furthermore, The Netherlands should plead for a global price for carbon. Without a global carbon charge, it is impossible to achieve the Paris goals.

4. Stimulate the renovation of existing houses to energy neutral houses.

We propose 2 measures. The first: the extension of the “Nationale Hypotheek Garantie” (national mortgage guarantee), so that investments in energy neutral houses also account. Secondly, providing funding of 2 billion euros for making private houses energy neutral.

5. Stimulate large scale generation of renewable energy

Vigorous investments to upscale sustainable energy are necessary the upcoming years. In particular the upscaling of wind energy on sea, solar panels on roofs and terrains, sustainable heating and geothermal. We propose a reduplication of the SDE+ agreement, as a support system of private investments that generate renewable energy.

6. Close the 5 remaining coal power plant before 2020, with a minimal restitution for the owners of this plant.

The CO2 emissions in The Netherlands will significantly decrease and we will achieve the CO2 reduction goal of 25% savings by 2020 against from 1990.

7. Introduce a levy based on kilometers.

This marks the transition from laying tax on car ownership to the usage of cars. The introduction of paying for car usage is a world wide trend and is inevitable in The Netherlands. Not only for reducing the traffic jam problem, but also the CO2 emissions, whereof traffic accounts for 20%. The revenue of this system should be used for investment in public transport.

8. Stimulate the development of regional campuses in the field of education, working and entrepreneurship for the new economy.

Such campuses are creative breading grounds where companies and knowledge institutes collaborate on innovative solutions for the new economy.

9. Make sustainability an important subject in the education.

Our eduction has the important task to prepare children and young people for the sustainable world.

10. Create legal room for experiments for the new economy.

Still, there are dozens of obstructing laws and regulations that opposite the new economy, increasingly from European levels. The waste law and regulation is a well known example, that obstructs reuse of waste, while this is an essential part in the circular economy.

11. Come up with adequate solutions for the earthquake damage in Groningen.

Everyone that has damage in some way should be refunded by setting up a damage fund of 5 billion.

12. Set up an investment fund for companies that want to invest in sustainable (societal and ecological) innovations.

This suits the investment fund Invest NL of, provisionally, 2,5 billion, but then more innovative and large scale. The transition towards a sustainable economy asks for a large skill (co-)financing, where government and private investors provide acces to capital for sustainable innovations.

Source: Trouw, 24 april 2017