Chairman Deltalinqs and Rotterdam Port Promotion Council
Transforming the Dutch industry to meet the climate targets is – I think – the biggest transition since the Industrial Revolution. The Rotterdam port and industrial complex, responsible for almost 90% of the total CO2 emissions in Rotterdam, has an important role to play in this transition. The discussion is not whether we are going to do it, but how we are going to do it. In order to achieve the change, everything must come together: cooperation between companies, support from our stakeholders, and also direction and support from the government. I see this as an important task for me. After all, as chairman of Deltalinqs, you are one of the most important representatives of the largest port in Europe. The companies are highly motivated. A lot of initiatives have already been started, but it is still unclear in a number of areas (e.g. in the construction of new energy infrastructure) what they can count on and what is expected of the companies. That is why the government should now quickly take control and map out the route with us: who does what, when, for how much and with whom. I am optimistic and hopeful that the energy transition in the largest port of Europe will succeed. The transition can, in addition to climate benefits, also bring us a lot of innovation and competitive advantage. As chairman, I like working hard to make this possible. If it was easy, I wouldn't have chosen it.
The Rotterdam port and industrial complex is by far the largest industrial cluster in the Netherlands. Indeed, there is a lot at stake: almost 400.000 direct and indirect jobs and more than 6% of our GDP. Companies are often highly dependent on each other. In order to keep the port industrial complex future-proof and ultimately to make the Netherlands climate neutral, substantial investments are needed. The risks are corresponding. In a transition of this magnitude, in which new technologies will be used and where there are large interdependencies, a lot can go wrong. That is why cooperation is very important. Between companies, but of course also between public and private partners. We cannot do this without the government. Fortunately, this cooperation and support is there, but it needs to be stepped up further. We need to help each other to get this big operation done; we have to do it together. These are investments of great social importance; after all, this is about preserving our future prosperity. Finally, there are a number of other issues that need to be resolved. Think of the nitrogen impediment that is now complicating new investments and sustainability, the shortage of technically skilled personnel and the social transition that must be experienced. If we do not regulate this properly, the energy transition will slow down. In fact, it could become the showstopper.
Victor Van der Cheijs
Absolutely. As I said, the impact of the energy transition is similar to the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century. As a result of the transition, but also due to further digitization, the labor market in the port and industrial area is changing. Jobs will disappear, existing jobs will change and new jobs and businesses will be created. This could create 10 to 15 thousand new jobs in the Rotterdam port area. This requires targeted support from the government, as well as regulations that make it possible for companies to make regional agreements with (vocational) educational institutions about the quality and quantity of education. After all, the companies know what skills their future employees should have. How good will it be if training institutes can tailor their education accordingly. Here too, public-private partnerships are essential. I am convinced that if we work well together, the port of Rotterdam can even strengthen its position. In the future, we can also earn a good living here, as long as we arrange the transition smartly and efficiently with each other. With the right investments, Rotterdam can become an important hydrogen hub in Europe.