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“Dirty electricity must become more expensive”

Jacco Minnaar on COP21

Jacco Minnaar on COP21

Government leaders from across the world are gathered to agree a new climate treaty and Jacco Minnaar, director of Energy & Climate at Triodos Investment Management, boarded the train for Paris on Saturday 28 November 2015.

A new climate treaty will be discussed in Paris over the next two weeks and this new treaty will take effect in 2020 when the current Kyoto treaty expires. Last Saturday a train left Rotterdam bound for Paris with a stopover in Brussels. Delegates from different companies, start-ups, NGOs and municipalities boarded to join a dialogue with one another about how to tackle climate change.

Jacco Minnaar, director of Energy & Climate at Triodos Investment Management

Jacco Minnaar, director of Energy & Climate at Triodos Investment Management

Prior to the international summit, the proposals of the individual countries were already forwarded to the UN climate conference (UNFCC). Under current measures, temperatures will certainly rise by 4, 5 perhaps even 6 degrees centigrade. If we implement all the proposed measures, the rise will be 2.7 degrees in 2050, which is still far too high, critics say. “Yet it’s still positive that something’s happening. More than ever, this climate conference has grabbed the imagination”, says Minnaar.

Why did you board the train?
“I’m in Paris because it is absolutely possible and vital that all energy be made renewable before 2050. The transition to a green economy will happen, the question is only, when? The Climate Conference in Paris can ensure that this transition is accelerated, for example, by reaching agreements on a price on CO2 emissions. We’d really like to see that. Coal, as the most polluting resource, for example, will then become more expensive than other forms of power generation.”

21st Climate Conference
A new treaty

The 21st Climate Conference is taking place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. This consultation with all the parties affiliated to the climate treaty of the United nations (UNFCCC) takes place in a different country each year. The aim this year is to agree a new climate treaty, which takes effect when the Kyoto Treaty expires in 2020.

Why is the Climate Conference important?

“Jesse Klaver and Diederik Samson spoke last week about the ‘tragedy of the horizon’. Everybody agrees that climate change is a huge problem, but there’s no sense of urgency yet because we don’t yet notice it. Once we start noticing climate change around us, it’ll be too late. The Climate Conference makes everyone aware again of the importance of continuing working towards a better climate.”
What is required for this?

“The transition to green energy is a very attractive movement. Not only because it pushes back climate change, but also because this transition will create jobs. This gives positive energy to society, which we must focus on. People like to be part of a positive movement. Our brains are not made for doomsday scenarios. Then we’re going to close up because we think that we as individuals can’t do anything about it anyway. Renewable energy will become cheaper. In a couple of years, renewable energy won’t need to be subsidised anymore.”

Which positive developments do you see?
“Renewable energy will become cheaper. In a couple of years, renewable energy won’t need to be subsidised any more. It’s exactly the opposite with fossil fuels. The easy reserves have already been extracted, so now we’re starting with shale gas. And energy is extracted from tar sands. These are expensive methods with even greater environmental threats than extracting energy from oil. The cost curve of fossil fuels is going the other way. It is unavoidable in the future that the cost of fossil fuels is going to increase. Financing renewable energy therefore also remains a good strategy from a financial perspective.”

Minnaar says that he’s already seeing many companies responding to this. He cites Vandebron as a good example. Triodos Groenfonds is one of the financiers of this company, which is a sort of market place for renewable energy. As client you can chose your own energy source. We generate it; what do you want – wind, water or solar energy? Moreover, Minnaar says that increasingly more parties are committing to the goal of countering global warming.

“What do the Vatican, the White House, a whole bunch of NGOs, but also large petroleum companies and Triodos Bank have in common? You may well think nothing, but all these parties want to increase the costs for emitting CO2. It is very striking that this is no longer the wish of an exclusive little club of NGOs.”

In other words, more and more large parties are also joining?
“Earlier, the climate used to be a debate, but that’s no longer the case. 97% of scientists believes there is tangible proof that climate change is actually happening and that it’s caused by human activities. If the agreements in the new climate treaty just go a little further than we expect, a lot more money can flow to the sectors that need it. This is already the case to some extent. Look at companies such as APG and PGGM, which are going to actively wind down their investments in C02-intensive industries.”

“The core task of Triodos Investment Management is to invest and thus create a positive impact, in this case on the environment and the climate.”

What is Triodos Bank’s role?

“The core task of Triodos Investment Management is to invest and thus create a positive impact, in this case on the environment and the climate. The environmental sector now represents 44% of all the loans and investments of Triodos Bank. And we’ve been financing renewable energy since the 1980s. We are close to the real economy; we have the networks and know the developers of new products. Our different funds link savers and investors on the one hand with investments in sustainable projects on the other. The aim is to ensure that more organisations invest in renewable and sustainable energy. The more people spend money in the right way, the better.”

What major innovations can we expect?

“Energy storage. If you consider the generation of green energy, you see that the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Fortunately, the wind usually blows a little harder at night while solar energy, on the other hand, can only be generated during daytime. And there’s a lot more sun in summer and more wind in winter. We must finds ways of storing energy more effectively for times when not sufficient energy is being generated.”

On ‘Know Where Your Money Goes’ section of our website, you can find all the projects that Triodos Bank is financing in the field of renewable energy. Want to find out more about the Climate Conference in Paris? Go to www.cop21.gouv.fr

What do you think of "“Dirty electricity must become more expensive”"

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Anthony Fletcher 4 years ago

I absolutely agree, but poor people without a choice must be given help.

Marilyn Jones 4 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly – but the fact is that David Cameron is hell-bent on fracking, gasification & other horrors all over the North West where I live, & many other places, including under our national parks & reserves, having pushed that through without discussion in parliament.
The Swiss petro-chemical giant INEOS has invested $1bn for licences.
I am so fearful for the future.

Reply to Marilyn Jones
Susan Dennis 4 years ago

Of course, could be built into any government benefits

Susan Dennis 4 years ago

Great idea. I have solar panels and govt subsidy…..positive discrimination!
Why not add negative tarif to “dirty ” gas and electricity. Might make commercial importers switch some investment to clean energy!!

Johanna Hansford 4 years ago

That may be quite important, people are more likely to change when it starts to hurt. (sadly) Johanna