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2008-05-28 00:00:00 / World Award

High-ranking ENERGY GLOBE Conference

Source: European Parliament

At discussion in the realm of the ENERGY GLOBE Awards, Kofi Annan and Mikhail Gorbachev call for trend reversal in energy consumption.

On the morning after the ceremonious Energy Globe Awards Gala on May 26, guests of honor and members of the Commission for Industrial and Energy Policy discussed best practices and changes in attitudes toward energy. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan emphasized that it is a matter of whether we can all change ourselves and our behavior quickly enough to stop the current trends in climate and energy in time.

Annan emphasized that climate change is not only an environmental problem but also a complex danger to security and peace and to the global economy. He cited the calculations of British economist Nicholas Stern, who quantified the potential global economic loss due to the consequences of climate change at 20%.

Energy consumption continues to rise rapidly

Annan warned that current trends are moving toward a point where it could be too late to change direction. If we continue to consume energy at today’s rates, then in 2030 the demand will have risen by 50%. Annan expressed his hope that this will not be the case.

However, there are also reasons for hope, including better use of fossil fuels and the availability and rising competitiveness of renewable energy.

Annan hopes that no one believes that we can do nothing. It costs significantly less to make reductions now than to bear the consequences later. Low emissions need not imply low growth, according to Annan.

Glasnost for the environment

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of state of the USSR and now President of the environmental organization Green Cross and head of a foundation bearing his name, likewise participated in the conference. On the previous evening he had received a lifetime achievement award at the Energy Globe Awards in the European Parliament.

Gorbachev spoke of experiences that shaped him and of motivation for his engagement: As a young man he worked in the Russian steppes and experienced how droughts and sand storms destroyed the livelihood of many people. As minister of agriculture Gorbachev saw how the environment was being damaged and how this was hidden from public view. He called for a glasnost for the environment, where glasnost means transparency and the mobilization of government and the people.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate warned against leaving developing countries to their fate. We live in a globalized world. We must work together. The environmental crisis is the top priority.

Huge potential for saving energy

Head of the Commission for Energy Policy in the European Parliament Angelika Niebler stated that we do not want to have any losers and that this is possible only through massive investments in innovative technologies. Niebler further emphasized that there is a huge potential for saving energy.

Likewise EU Parliament President Pöttering stated that we are still failing to concentrate enough on the energy-saving potential; saving energy is the cheapest and simplest way to reduce greenhouse gases.

Program of the GLOBAL ENERGY Conference

Photo gallery

Stern Review on the economics of climate change

Source: European Parliament Press release