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‘Technically’ Belgium can be climate neutral by 2050

Credit: Pxhere

Belgium can meet the climate goals by 2050, according to VUB professors Willy Baeyens and Hubert Rahier, but everyone will have to do their part.

“Technically, we can meet the climate goals for 2050, with the right climate plan,” they said, spelling out six pillars that are essential for a sustainable climate policy and adding that “clear information about the energy transition should be accessible for anybody.”

Besides “a strong need for an ambitious transition plan of the government,” the researchers point out that “citizens, energy producers, and other companies should actively opt for green energy in order for Belgium to reach its goals. “Realising climate neutrality by 2050 is a shared process.”

The first pillar is to transition to a green energy production and to discourage the use of polluting energy. “But there is a big problem! The sun doesn’t always shine when we need lots of energy,” conversely, the wind can produce excess energy when we don’t need it as much, so we have to be able to convert and store surpluses of green electricity, which is the researchers’ second pillar.

By focusing on storage, “our knowledge will improve. The knowledge we need so badly to realise the transition to green and sustainable energy,” the researchers said.

The third pillar is to exchange green energy with other countries by strengthening electricity transport cables that lead abroad, using existing and new pipelines to transport green fuels and to exchange based on day or night, summer or winter. “This way, we can meet supply and demand.”

Fourth, energy consumption must be reduced. Buildings must be made energy neutral “and even energy positive,” public transport must become more modern and competitive, and cycling must be made attractive.

Related to this, the researchers plead for a switch to electric transport, gradually forbidding the sale of petrol and diesel cars, building up a network of charging stations with the same density as gas stations these days, and in the medium term “perhaps a switch from gas stations to green fuel stations for transport with fuel cells.”

Finally, scientific researchers must do their part “for production as well as for consumption” as “they are the driving force in the whole energy switch story.”

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times