"People have little awareness of energy scarcity"

Jan van der Ploeg

Now that gas supplies to Europe are being reduced, European countries are introducing more energy-saving measures. Previously, for many countries this meant making energy cheaper by, for example, subsidising petrol or reducing VAT on gas. Now countries are taking harsher measures. In France, shops with air conditioning are fined and in Germany, historic buildings are no longer lit up. 

Awareness of scarcity

Such measures, which involve relatively small-scale consumption, can be effective. But only if everyone does it. Derk Loorbach, professor of socio-economic transitions at Erasmus University Rotterdam, says: "There is hardly any awareness at the moment that energy is a scarce commodity. Governments are now asking citizens to reduce their energy consumption, but the need is not felt.” The solution? "The government must intervene now. You cannot forbid people to use less energy, but you can introduce a progressive tax on energy." This means that when the population uses too much energy, they also have to pay more for it.

Government must intervene

There is a chance that less essential sectors for the economy may be shut down to reduce energy consumption. "In the Netherlands, for example, it is conceivable that glasshouse horticulture will be restricted," says Loorbach. "This consumes an enormous amount of gas, but provides little direct added value for the Dutch economy, because the products are intended for export." According to Loorbach, it is important that drastic changes take place because of the energy shortages, not only due to geopolitical struggles but also because of global warming. "We need to look at long-term solutions to the climate crisis."

Read the full article in newspaper Trouw (in Dutch)

 

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