Published on
December 2, 2015

The 21st Conference of the Parties has started in Paris. The coming two weeks we will highlight several concrete ways in which ENP contribute to COP21's success and to solving climate change.

From November 30th to December 11st, 151 world leaders, 25.000 official governmental delegates, and an equal amount of researchers, business representatives and other stakeholders will attempt to agree on a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. In a series of contributions from the ENP staff and PhDs, we show how ENP's research and researchers are also represented at COP21. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days.

The first contribution below comes directly from the chair of the Environmental Policy Group, who recently signed a petition along with 63 other professors to close down Dutch coal-fired power plants.

Why phasing out coal is important

Written by Prof. Dr. Ir. Gert Spaargaren

Last week a group of professors in the field of energy, climate and environment signed a petition for closing down all Dutch coal-fired energy plants. Normally I am not a professor-activist and not in favour of scientists trying to use their scientific authority to intervene in political debates. In this case, however, I put aside my hesitations and supported the open letter without reservations for at least three reasons I would like to share with you.        

  • First and foremost: we need to use the Paris COP momentum to accelerate climate policies worldwide. We as scientific experts in the field have a special responsibility to call upon policy makers, environmental NGOs, the business community and the general public to indicate significant next steps to be made in reducing CO2 emissions, in the Netherland and worldwide.         
  • Second, the phasing out of coal in the context of the Dutch energy provision system makes sense both from a scientific and political point of view. Scientifically, since studies have shown that this phasing out can be realized without endangering energy-provision and society. Politically, since several countries in Europe are considering similar steps, in combination with a much needed Climate Law which could support the process by providing a long-term, structural perspective for more stringent CO2-policies.         
  • Third: the ‘top-down’ strategy of closing down all coal-fired energy plants would be very beneficial for the myriad decentral, bottom-up initiatives that are being developed at the moment by over 700 energy cooperatives and all kind of local citizen-groups engaging themselves with the co-production of renewable energy for domestic uses. These local, smart grid related, energy initiatives would gain high strategic relevance in the context of the overall energy system in the Netherlands, thereby accelerating the much needed energy-transition and the projected reductions of CO2 emissions that come along with it. 

That is why I signed the open letter. The many responses I got from my (work and family) networks are proof of the fact that mainstream mass-media are still very powerful these days.