There’s been a lot of complaints lately, especially from within liberal circles, about subsidies on renewable energy. The term ‘leftist hobbies’ was coined in the Netherlands, and it seems to have fallen into popular use. That’s unfortunate because not everything can be expressed in money. How much is a clean environment worth? Or a low CO2-level in the atmosphere? Or an icecap? What’s independence from unreliable or even unfriendly countries worth?
It’s doubly unfortunate that, in fact, the worldwide subsidies for the renewable sector are dwarfed () by the subsidies for the fossil sector. Research reveals that the fossil sector gets about twelve times as much money as the renewable sector.
What to do? Increase the subsidies on renewable energy by twelve times? Better not. I am liberal enough to see the many disadvantages of keeping an army of civil servants unnecessarily at work. I hope we’re sensible enough to (quickly) reduce the fossil subsidies to zero to that both energy sources can compete on even terms. Unfortunately the fossil sector has many old vested interests who will not let go of these sources of funding easily.
Only time will tell if we’re able to make sensible decisions about this. Unfortunately the (probable) coming Dutch right-wing cabinet doesn’t give much hope in this area…