Many examples of Amsterdam leading the way

The recent climate agreement reached in Paris stresses the need for the world to move quickly towards cleaner sources, so as to reduce greenhouse gases. In the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, Mark van Baal writes (Dutch link) about how Amsterdam already has a long and proud history in this field, with many examples of the city’s pioneering role in switching to new and cleaner forms of energy.

Van Baal is the founder of an organization called Follow This, which is comprised of Shell shareholders who want to convert Shell into a renewable energy company. He mentions the example of the Westergasfabriek, a popular city park in Amsterdam that was converted from a former gasworks. It reopened in 2003 as a thriving “culture park” that combines biking trails, schools, and a cinema with a wide mix of restaurants, cafes, offices, music clubs, and television studios. 

Amsterdam makes the switch to clean energy a fast and efficient one

As Van Baal writes, the Westergasfabriek is a monument to how an old source of energy can be replaced by a newer and cleaner one, and how that process can occur very quickly. In the early 1960s, he says, it was almost unimaginable that the huge gas factory that supplied Amsterdam with heating and electricity from coal gas would soon be rendered unnecessary. But in 1959, natural gas (which is a cleaner than coal gas) was discovered in Groningen, and suddenly the unexpected the end of the Westergasfabriek was in sight. Only eight years later, in 1967, the Westergasfabriek closed down.    

Today, that process of switching to greener energy sources continues to evolve in Amsterdam. Van Baal mentions the rapid rise of electric taxis in the city, which are well on their way to becoming the norm. And as Amsterdam’s Sustainabilty Agenda explains, the city wants all of its traffic to be emissions-free by 2025. 

Amsterdam's award-winning AEB facility already converts Amsterdam's waste into sustainable electricity, heat, and construction materials, and the Dutch rail company NS recently announced that all its trains will be powered by wind energy in 2018.