Dutch advisory councils call for higher priority to be assigned to development of a sustainable energy system

Our energy system is not sustainable. The General Energy Council and the Council for the Environment (VROM Council) consider this a serious threat to our society. Problems such as climate change and the growing dependence on oil and natural gas from politically unstable regions must be tackled with high priority. The conversion (transition) of our energy system to a sustainable one is a complex process which will take decades.

We should start this process now, through strengthened national and international policies. In this process of renewal, the government is the appropriate party to guide and direct the required combined efforts of the business sector, knowledge institutions, non-governmental organisations, consumers and the government itself. The main aim should be to encourage goal-oriented, bold innovation of the energy system based on a long-term vision, and to create opportunities for the Dutch business sector. That is the essential message of a joint advice entitled “Energy Transition: A Climate for New Opportunities”, which the Councils presented to the members of government responsible for energy and the environment in December 2004. The English translation of the abridged version of the advice is now available.

Internationally, the Netherlands should strive for better cooperation and an improved division of tasks in the development of new and more sustainable energy technologies. Nationally, the Netherlands should work to develop innovative solutions in line with the strengths and specific circumstances of our country. This will create opportunities for the Dutch business sector to acquire a leading position in the growing global market for more efficient and sustainable energy products, such as advanced gas technology, modern biomass applications, underground CO2 storage and lower-priced solar cells. To achieve this goal sharper choices will have to be made because the Netherlands cannot deploy its talents and resources on all fronts.