During a symposium held yesterday, three researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) gave an evaluation of the UN climate conference. According to the researchers, it is possible that the Netherlands will lead the way in the transition by working together with other countries and involving civilians. ‘Stop whining, start winning‘. That is the conclusion of Auke Hoekstra, researcher in electric mobility at TU Eindhoven, about the role of the Netherlands in the climate transition.
The climate experts at the TU Eindhoven are upbeat following the climate conference that recently took place in Glasgow. “It is unique that the sense of urgency of the problem and the importance of science were key during the conference,” says Heleen de Coninck, professor of climate policy at TU/e. In addition to being a professor, de Coninck is also a co-author of several IPCC climate reports. These served as the scientific basis in Glasgow.
Anna Wieczorek also sees some progress. Wieczorek is associate professor at the Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences faculty and sustainability ambassador of the TU/e. “We are nowhere near reaching the climate targets, but pressure was put on governments and organizations for the first time during the conference. The impact of fossil fuels on the climate was also discussed in detail. I’m very pleased about that.”
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According to Hoekstra, the most important outcome of the conference is that all countries are committed to taking long-term action. “There is nobody anymore who is not taking climate change seriously. I found that surprisingly good news.” Yet the transition can still proceed a lot faster, provided that the right measures are taken. “More and more research shows that rapid change is possible. The corona crisis also demonstrates to us that we can act quickly. We will succeed, as long as companies, organizations and governments work together.”
The Netherlands is leading the way
The researchers are in unanimous agreement: the Netherlands could lead the way in the climate transition. “From a technological point of view, it is definitely possible. The main question is how are we going to tackle it on a social level,” says De Coninck. Hoekstra concurs. “The Netherlands, and especially the Brainport region, can handle a challenge like this extremely well. I also believe that organizations like TNO can sketch a good picture of a climate-neutral future. We will have to work together with other countries a lot. Think of the world as one big company. Together, we can make the unthinkable possible. Stop whining, start winning.”
So, what concrete steps can we take as a country? There is much to be gained in the area of agriculture in particular, Hoekstra believes: “We can score a major victory by, for example, switching to cultured meat. In addition, the government can play a role in rolling out solutions in society. “By promoting research, the government previously made it possible for the mission to the moon to take place, for the Internet to be developed and for a corona vaccine to be produced. Initiatives are set in motion by stimulating research at universities.” According to Wieczorek, we as a country also need to think more carefully about subsidizing fossil fuels. “If we change that, we will be able to move forward much faster.”
Gladly taking measures
In addition to larger organizations, the researchers are convinced that civilians also need to be involved in the transition. They can also take steps to combat climate change. Think about solar panels on roofs or driving an electric car. Incidentally, Hoekstra believes that it does not have to be unpleasant to take measures against climate change.” It is not nearly as exasperating as taking measures against the coronavirus. See it as an upgrade. Is it really that bad to have cleaner air? Is it annoying to drive around in an electric car? We all face a huge task, but it can actually be fun to take action.”