Opening address from Pex Langenberg

Opening address from Pex Langenberg

An opening address from Pex Langenberg, deputy mayor for the City of Rotterdam and responsible for mobility, sustainability and culture, opened the 2017 Erasmus Energy Forum Business Day on 29 June. He described how progress in Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam fitted the theme of the Forum, Accelerating the energy transition – paths to zero carbon energy.

A hard habit to break

Alderman Langenberg said carbon emissions were a hard habit to break but his participation in the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and the Rotterdam Climate Initiative in 2016 inspired him to bring the energy transition to Rotterdam, where he dreams of clean transport and a clean port; an enormous challenge that requires changes to be made now, but the city is on the right track to the transition to renewable sources of energy, he said. Rotterdam has three ambitions for sustainability:

  1. A clean, healthy and future-proof city with pedestrian-friendly streets and more parking for bikes, improved public transport, green roofs and more city parks.
  2. Cleaner and cheaper energy, saving city households 40 per cent in energy costs – around € 600 per household per year; enough wind energy for a third of city households by 2025; to make use of the flat roofs of Rotterdam for solar panels; and to further experiment with floating solar panels in the port. 
  3. A strong and innovative economy that includes co-operations with waste chemical initiatives to make fossil fuels redundant.

Langenberg referred to American economist Jeremy Rifkin, co-founder of the ‘roadmap next economy'. For the urban Rotterdam-Den Haag region this aims to attract millions of euros in investments and make the region ready for the future. Existing initiatives and partnerships for the region include the RUGGEDISED project, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Cambridge Innovation Centre, and RDM Rotterdam.

Making a sustainable future requires new ways of thinking, and connecting with people and authorities on a local and EU level, but also with corporates and the academic world. The key is to work together. “If you want a sustainable future for your city, you need the people to think along. Encourage them, and if people come up with an idea, you need to listen and help them out.

“Our journey is a step to clean energy and sustainability. We need to shape the future together.”