New Energy Age: Do We Really Mean It This Time?
Date: Monday, August 09, 2004 @ 21:33:49 GMT
Topic: Testimonials

by Mark Braly

RE Insider - August 9, 2004 - Was it groupthink, or did the German Government's Renewables 2004 conference in Bonn earlier this summer mean the world's nations finally understand that the age of fossil fuels is coming to a close? And, more importantly, that their governments must midwife the birth of sustainable energy?

The naturally lit interior of the old East German Bundestag assembly hall on the banks of the Rhine River rang with rhetoric once heard only at West Coast communes and the Sierra Club, but this time it was coming from representative of 154 countries and 30 international agencies.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the 3600 Participants: "Those who have been hesitant in addressing this issue (of redirecting global energy policy) in the past are now coming around to realizing the urgency of doing so...Events in Saudi Arabia and Iraq have made it dramatically clear how vitally important it is to our security to have an energy supply based on as many different types and sources of energy as possible."

The chancellor was pointing out that which seems to have barely entered the consciousness of mainstream American politics, namely, the folly of placing our energy future in the hands of Islamist fundamentalists - very likely the next governments of Iraq and Saudi Arabia -- who are more interested in using oil to realize apocalyptic visions than conspicuous consumption...

The conference organizers leaned on the 200 governments and international organizations to submit voluntary commitments to "action" programs and specific goals to promote renewables and efficiency. Submissions trickled in at first, but the 214-page final draft had 165 actions. Some, like the U.S. offering, were nothing more than existing programs reformatted for the conference documentation.

But the German government added it all up and estimated that implementation would save 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2015 and would "mobilize billions in investments in generating energy from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal sources."

...Most national governments and their international councils seem to accept the inevitability of energy change because of global warming and a prospective peak of global oil production.

But one doesn't, and that's the one who matters most - the USA...

...The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries learned its lesson even if we didn't. Push your monopoly too far - raise the price of oil too high - and you'll bring on the market options that will put you out of business. Now, OPEC (read Saudi Arabia) virtually admits in public that it manages oil prices in such a way as to keep our economy dependent and just healthy enough to pay the bill while ignoring the alternatives. (Well, isn't that what we both want?)

Every government except ours seems to get this...

The dread I felt at the Renewables conference is that Schroeder's nightmare scenario will have to happen in order to produce the political consensus for action in the United States. The history of the AIDS pandemic seems to show that we have to be well into the crisis with millions dead and millions more mobilized before we can focus on a problem. A world conference on AIDS in Bangkok has been the lead story in the mainstream media for a week. The English-language mainstream press coverage of Renewables 04 conference was almost nil. Yet every meaningless dip and rise of oil prices is breathlessly reported.

Where to call to find out if they really mean it:
Where in the world are the government officials responsible for implementing the energy commitments made at the Renewables 2004 conference? You can find out at this link on the web:

This is a searchable pdf file which contains a description of all of the voluntary efficiency and renewable energy projects submitted by governments and international agencies at the conference. More important for marketing purposes, it has the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email of the responsible officials. Let us know if anyone is answering mail.

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