Back(casting) to the future!

On a commission from the municipality of The Hague, a backcasting analysis was carried out to examine how the city council’s ambition to achieve climate-neutrality in 2040 can be realised. The analysis proceeded from the targets set out in ‘The Hague’s Energy Vision for 2040’ and the municipality’s ‘Transport Policy Report’. Working back from these targets, it was analysed what activities and measures need to be taken, and when, to achieve the envisaged climate neutrality in 2040. 

Parallel to the backcasting study, a report entitled ‘Economic Impact of the Energy Vision for 2040’ was also prepared, in which the financial and social costs and benefits are calculated of complete implementation of all the measures from the ‘Energy Vision’ document.

The main findings are as follows:

  • Achievement of the envisaged target is over 50%-dependent on ‘tail wind’, i.e. on European and national legislation leading to large-scale cuts in CO2 emissions, particularly in power generation and transport.
  • For transport there is currently no realistic route to climate neutrality in 2040; such neutrality hinges entirely on developments in the automotive industry.
  • Since European and national policies will be decisive, lobbying relevant institutions to implement appropriate policies will be of crucial importance.
  • Implementation of the measures cited in the ‘Energy Vision’ will require total investments of € 3.7 bln over the period 2014-2040, relating mainly to measures to be taken by parties other than the municipality itself. In principle, the costs and benefits of these investments would then lie with those parties.
  • One of the recommendations to the municipality is to intensify the policy already in place, which is geared to informing, convincing, facilitating and encouraging parties keen to take steps towards climate neutrality. Among the measures worthy of immediate consideration are steps to achieve climate neutrality of the heat and cold supply to the existing building stock, coupled with improved energy efficiency in such buildings.