Monday, October 23, 2017

Daniela Vincenti Mitchener talked to Jeremy Rifkin

European Dream: Is it still alive? Read the interview if you want to know.





As the eurozone crisis continues to unfold there are lots of catastrophic headlines. We are a long way away from the picture of Europe you painted in your book, ‘The European Dream’. Europe, it seems, has lost its sense of solidarity, the euro is a shambles, our businesses are unable to compete in the world, and budgets are under pressure and cannot sustain our welfare systems. Is the European dream turning into a nightmare?


No. I don’t think it is turning into a nightmare. The problem is facing every country, including the United States. I have been sitting down with heads of state and government of the European Union in the last few months discussing this, with [European Commission President José Manuel] Barroso and [permanent Council President Herman] Van Rompuy. I am going to tell you what I told them. First, let me tell you what I think the crisis is and then tell you where I think the European dream is going. There are two elements to this: the real crisis hit in July 2008. That’s when oil reached $147 a barrel on the world market. Prices went through the roof from food to petrol. Food prices soared in 30 countries, because everything is embedded with oil: fossil fuel. Our food is made out of petrochemicals, fertilisers and pesticides. Almost all our pharmaceutical products are petrochemical-based: our clothes, our construction materials and our civilisation are based on fossil fuel. When prices hit $147 a barrel – world prices went through the roof – inflation soared and purchasing power plummeted. In July 2008, the economic engine of the second industrial revolution shut down. That was the economic earthquake. The collapse of financial markets 60 days later was the after-shock. This is what I call peak globalisation and it’s an end game for the second industrial revolution. As you know, leaders are dealing with the after shock: the financial bubble. As long as they are all dealing with this, they are not grasping the historic importance of what is happening.

Are you saying they are short-sighted and not looking at the big picture?


Precisely. They are looking at the side-show. Now, the reason the crisis has happened is because of peak oil per capita – not to be confused with peak oil production. These are two different things. Global peak oil production is a geological term – it’s when half of the oil reserves in the world are used up, prices go up and it becomes unaffordable. There is controversy about peak oil production, but that controversy is narrowing. The pessimists think global oil reserves will peak between now and 2020. The optimists say maybe it will peak between 2020 and 2030. But even the International Energy Agency, who were the optimists, now say supply will crunch in 2014. Now they are only arguing between 10-15 years. But that is not why we had a crisis of the second industrial revolution in July 2008. It was because of something called peak oil per capita.  No controversy about that. It occurred in 1979, at the height of the second industrial revolution in America and Europe. British Petroleum did a study about that and other studies confirmed it over the year: we distributed all the oil reserves that we knew we had to everyone on Earth at that point in time – that’s the most oil that these persons could have if it was distributed equally. We have found more oil since then and the population is growing more quickly. So if we distribute the oil to the 6.8 billion people we have in the world now, there is less to go around. When China and India made a bid – starting in the 1990s at a 10% blistering growth rate –  to bring a third of the human race into the second industrial revolution, the demand pressure started to build against supply and in 2008 the demand against supply was so great that it hit $147 a barrel and the engine turned off. The reason this is important for Europe and the world is that as soon as the economy is starting to recover, oil is going to go above $60-70 a barrel. Increasing demand against the limited oil reserves will inevitably force prices to go up, and when that happens it will collapse again and the engine will switch off again: that is an end game. Each time that we are trying to re-grow the global economy, it puts more demand out there, with developing countries like China and India joining the game. Oil prices will go up, short circuit and cut off the engine every single time. It is going to be a boomerang effect. When this happens for the second time, you are going to see panic.

Are our leaders aware of that or are they still in total denial?


I have been sitting down with leader after leader after leader in the last two months. Privately, they are aware. It is just that the economists have not gotten there yet. Now, the financial bubble is related to that. The reason for the financial bubble is that the second industrial revolution is based on centralised electricity communication and oil – the internal combustion engine and suburban construction. In our country the juvenile infrastructure was put together for the second industrial revolution between 1900 and 1929. Then we had the Great Depression and the war. The mature infrastructure was put together in the 1950s-60s: it was called the interstate highway – the biggest public works project in US history. Europe followed with its interstate highways in the 70s and 80s. So you were a little behind us. That was the infrastructure shift that allowed us to get the full multiplier effect out of the auto age, the oil age with suburban construction, travel and tourism and all the things that go with that. The productivity of that technology and infrastructure boomed in the late 80s. We overbuilt in housing, commercial, real estate. We overshot. At that point, we went into a housing recession, which became a global recession. How did we get out of the recession? We didn’t. We did not have a third industrial revolution in place with the same multiplier effect as the auto age, the oil age and suburban construction, so we began to eat up the savings of the second industrial revolution through extended credit. Family savings became the purchasing power to move globalisation in the early 90s.

Are you saying that we started living beyond our means?


Correct. It was not about new wealth or productivity. It was using the wealth that we generated when we matured the second industrial revolution infrastructure. You were lagging behind in Europe for 10 years or so. Family savings were about 9% in the 1990s. It has been negative for the last three years. We depleted the family savings of the US in the last 15 years in order to build globalisation. That was the credit bubble. Then when we ran out of savings we had a second bubble – the housing bubble. People were not buying houses because they had new wealth based on new productivity, but we were giving them away for nothing with sub-prime interests to pay later – it was a bubble which later burst and then it spread to Europe. The credit bubble is the result of a second industrial revolution that peaked in the 80s in our country, maybe a decade later in Europe. Then, when the oil prices went to $147 because the late players came in – India and China – that was too much. It is too late for India and China to build a second industrial revolution. The game is over. In other words, they are the last guys in. It is not going to happen, because every time they are trying to push demand, the prices are going to shoot up again. When you add into that the entropy bill, climate change – now we have to pay for 200 years of spewing CO2 into the atmosphere – then the price becomes enormous. That’s why Copenhagen [the UN-led conference in December 2009 which aimed to agree on a legally-binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol] collapsed. Now we have our scientists telling us we might be threatened with mass extinction of life on our planet. Our own species is now threatened with agricultural losses. We are at an end game of the second industrial revolution.

So are you saying it’s a nightmare for the planet, not just for Europe…


It’s a nightmare for the planet. But remember the EU is still the leading economy – its GDP exceeds ours [the United States]. However, everyone is in this end game. But the EU is in the position – the best position in the world – to make a transition from a second to a third industrial revolution, and it has a key asset to allow it to do so. The third industrial revolution which I was privileged to develop for the EU was formally endorsed as the medium to long-term plan by the [European] Parliament in 2007 by written declaration. It started with [former European Commission President] Romano Prodi and now various parts of the European Commission, the agencies and the Parliament are moving this vision. It is also moving more quickly in some member states than others: Germany, Scandinavian countries, Spain. This is a four-pillar infrastructure revolution that will give us the same economic multiplier effect, as the first and second industrial revolution did, over the next 50 years.

What's that?


I am going to explain what it is and then I am going to tell you what the asset is that Europe has that makes unique so it can move this. The EU has committed to 20% renewable energy – pillar one. We have to get off oil and all the other fossil fuels that shadow oil.

Is that enough – 20%?


No. It is enough for 2020, but past that, we need to move to zero emissions and post-carbon by 2050 – not low carbon, but post-carbon. So pillar one, the EU committed to 20% renewable energy by 2020, which is one-third of the electricity. That is a mandate, not a benchmark. Pillar two: we ask how to collect renewable energy, because it is everywhere – the sun, the wind, the heat out of the ground, garbage, ocean tides, etc. The first inclination in the EU was to go where the wind and sun is and collect it in a centralised way. Go to the Mediterranean where the sun is, go to Ireland where the wind is, go to Norway where the hydro is, centralise and build big power lines across Europe. We don’t oppose that – that is transitional – but not sufficient. In other words, we started to ask the question: if renewable energy is distributed and is found everywhere, why would we collect it in Europe at a few central points? That led to pillar two: buildings. They are the major cause of climate change. Buildings use 40% of the energy [consumed in Europe] and produce 40% of CO2. We see buildings as the solution. They are the problem, and they are the solution. We are beginning to envision converting every single building that exists in Europe to a partial power plant that can collect the energy around the building: a little bit of sun on the roof, a little bit of wind on the walls, heat from the ground – partial power plants. Every home, office, factory becomes its own power plant – like you can have your own personal computer. The new buildings that are coming up now: they are positive power. They produce more power than they need. The first building that is positive power went up in Spain. Pillar two gets construction moving, as we see that construction is always the way you rebuild an economy. In the first industrial revolution it was construction that gave us the first huge vertical cities, like London and New York. In the second industrial revolution it was suburban construction, because the automobile and the interstate highways gave us construction of new suburbs. In the third industrial revolution it is taking the existing building stock across Europe and turning them into a dual purpose utility – it is going to be both a power plant and a dwelling. It appreciates the real estate stocks and creates millions of jobs not thousands, because you have to actually reconvert every single building in the EU to become a partial power plant. Germany has begun to do that, the Scandinavian countries and Spain too. It is not theoretical, but we have to move it. Pillar three: the EU is committed to hydrogen as a means of storing these intermittent energies. The EU has committed two billion euros R&D when Romano Prodi was there. The Barroso Commission allocated eight billion euro public-private joint technology initiatives, which you reported about on EurActiv. Hydrogen is basically a storage technology like digital to media. So when the sun is shining on your roof and you have a little extra electricity, you use some of the surplus you don’t need and you electrolyse water – like in high-school chemistry. Hydrogen comes out of water in a tank and when the sun is not shining on your roof, you convert hydrogen into electricity. We have to set up hydrogen infrastructure across all buildings, infrastructure and the power lines of Europe. Pillar four is the most interesting pillar, because this is where you take the Internet communication technology revolution and combine it with the distributive renewable energy revolution and create the third industrial revolution. We take the same technology that we used to create the Internet and we take the transmission and power grid of Europe and turn into an intergrid, which acts like the Internet. Millions and millions of buildings are producing their own energy, storing some of the surplus hydrogen –like you store digital and media–, then what they don’t use, they can share across 27 states with 500 million people on an intergrid that acts exactly like the Internet. The technology is there and we are beginning to lay down the master plan. This is the third industrial revolution. The democratisation of energy. But it creates a totally new economic infrastructure, equivalent to the intestate highway in the 20th century or equivalent to the railroad that connected cities in the 19th century. The intergrid that connects energy with communication. Now what does this have to do with Europe…

Just a minute: you said this revolution is going to create millions of jobs – but these are skilled labour jobs. In your book 'The European Dream', you said Europe had very good primary and secondary education, but lagged behind in higher education compared to the US. Do we have the right skilled labour force to implement this third industrial revolution?


Let me get to that in a few minutes. I will also get to the question on how you finance that in a period of austerity.


Okay…I am listening.


Let me finish this on the four pillars. The first is renewable energy. The second, the buildings become your power plant to convert local, distributive energy. The third, hydrogen lets you store energy. Fourth, you have an intergrid that acts like the Internet so that you can distribute energy among millions and millions of people. The fourth pillar fits in also because we are coming out with plug-in electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars in the next 24-36 months, and they have to be plugged into the grid. This is all happening. It is not theoretical. Utility companies are beginning to become distributive, moving towards the third industrial revolution, because they have to deal with the plug-in and transportation of electric and fuel-cell cars. Germany has got a massive partnership with Royal Dutch Shell, RWE and others to set up hydrogen fuelling stations across the country, because production is coming out in 36 months. The reason we can do this – and this is crucial because we could not do that 10 years ago – is because we have second-generation grid IT (IT 2.0). In the last seven years we have developed software that allows us to connect millions of little desktop computers – they don’t have much power by themselves – but when the software connects them, the distributive power of hundreds of thousands of computers working together exceeds anything that you can imagine with centralised super computers. We know we can do it technologically.

What's Europe’s asset in this?


Let me tell you that now. This is what I said to EU leaders in Brussels. I said to them that this is the next stage of integration for Europe. This is the way to achieve the Lisbon Agenda that has not been delivered. The European dream is an integrated, seamless market across Europe – so that the European dream of sustainability, quality of life, peace – so that all the elements of that dream can come together. An integrated single market that can deliver the Lisbon Agenda – the most competitive knowledge-based society in the world. What is the asset? Europe, which is the leading economy in the world, also has the largest commercial market in the world (500 million consumers). In addition, its associated partnerships with the Mediterranean regions – North Africa, the Middle East, add another 500 million people. That is one billion people, potentially the largest internal market in the world, way beyond anything that China could imagine. What is missing is that it has not been integrated in a single internal market – what is missing an economic vision and game plan that would create a seamless, distributive renewable energy grid across Europe, a seamless communication grid and logistics and transport grid to go with the new seamless energy grid – that is the third industrial revolution. That will create an internal market so that you can engage in commerce and trade with a billion people in a post-carbon, sustainable manner. Secondly, it will allow you to advance the subsidiarity principle, because all that energy is local. You have to generate locally so that everyone is an entrepreneur, but you have to do it collaboratively in order to share it across the continent. The old geopolitics gives way to biosphere politics. With energy cooperatives, small businesses and communities, you have to create that energy across Europe so that it creates a biosphere politics that leaves geopolitics behind. You are not beholden to some far up geopolitical power – whether it is Russian oil or gas or Middle Eastern oil. I am being very frank. That is the asset. That is the integration of Europe, the next project for Europe, and if it fails, the European dream will fail. If it succeeds, the European dream becomes a dream for an empathic civilization, a global dream of living together in a shared biosphere. Because if you can integrate Europe in an internal market with a third industrial revolution and a post-carbon energy infrastructure, it is going to create millions of jobs to implement the four pillar strategy.

Now, the question is how do you finance this? Across Europe member states are adopting austerity measures to reduce spending and slash deficits. How do you finance this revolution?


Yes. There is austerity. They are cutting budgets. People say we cannot do this. The problem is they do not understand how you approach it. If you approach it as a public expenditure – because you are dealing with energy, climate change, public jobs in a vacuum – that is not the right way to go. You have to look at this as an economic development model. The reason it is important is that it changes the whole way one thinks about where the money is. The third industrial revolution model that we are talking about is an economic investment model – an economic development, not a public expenditure model. Here is the way it works. I have set up the third industrial revolution CEO business roundtable, made up of 100 companies and cooperatives around the world. We are beginning to lay down master plans. We just presented one for Rome. It took us six months with the lead development team. We put out a 150-page report on how Rome can move to a third post-carbon revolution economy. We are doing Utrecht in the Netherlands. We have just finished Monaco too. Here is how these economic developments work. They are collaborative efforts between the cities and regions and our development teams, based on economic investments. Let me take Rome as an example. Rome spends about [this year] €26 billion on economic investment – that’s approximately one fifth of its GDP. Now what is economic investment? That’s money you spend anyway, even in bad times, on economic improvements, bridges, roads, new infrastructure, fixing power lines, transmission… When our global development team went in and ran the numbers for them, we found that what they would need to do in Rome over the next twenty to thirty years to get a 40% reduction in CO2, which is really high, is spend less than 1.4% of what they would spend anyway on economic investment – that’s only three-tenths of 1% of their GDP per year on average. But the reason they can do this at such a low amount is to leverage with the right kind of public-private long-term planning so that at each step, you know what you have to lay down on infrastructure on pillar one, pillar two, pillar three, pillar four…you can create a juvenile infrastructure in twenty years and a mature one in forty. Now, what we say to them is: you’re spending that money anyway, do you want to spend all 100% of your economic investment on an old, second industrial revolution that’s on life support? Whose energies have sun-setted, whose technologies are obsolete and whose infrastructure is collapsing? You can’t let the second industrial revolution completely die, because then we’re all in trouble…

But it would still take twenty years to set up a juvenile infrastructure.


For sure, but you have jobs along the way. So your multiplier effect starts immediately, as soon as you start the project. You would have the infrastructure in place step-by-step, it’s a process, it’s organic and you start building the jobs on day one. So you are starting to benefit from it right away. So this is what the EU needs to do. The EU has the first continental governing body and the third industrial revolution favours continents, because it’s across land masses: everyone is producing their own power on a land mass and then sharing it across the largest land mass you can find – and that’s a continent. The EU has formally endorsed this – the Parliament has, the Commission is working on it at various levels – but it hasn’t yet gone the extra yard and acknowledged that this is what we have to do as the centre-piece of the next stage of European integration. How do you create that single internal market? You need a new energy regime, it needs to be distributed, you have to use it as an economic investment model and you have to see it across Europe and the associated regions. If they don’t do it, then I don’t think there is a Plan B – and I think the European dream fails.

We have to go towards the ‘Energy Community’?


I’m saying that they need to have a new economic development plan that lays down an infrastructure for a third industrial revolution. Just like the first industrial revolution laid down rails and set up new cities across the continents and created new construction booms. The second industrial revolution did the same thing: we set up inter-state highway systems, the automobile internal combustion engine allowed us to have travel and tourism, suburban construction…you have to lay down the infrastructure. This third industrial revolution is an economic development plan, endorsed by the Parliament to set up the infrastructure – which is a smart, distributed power grid around Europe that combines ICT with distributed energy, converting all your building stock to local power plants that can produce their own energy and share it across Europe.

A political question: do you sense that Europe has the political will to embark in the third industrial revolution? The EU failed with the Lisbon Strategy. Now it is reducing its ambitions on the 'Europe 2020' strategy – do we have the political visionaries that led the other industrial revolutions?


This is a challenging moment for the EU. [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel has said to me privately on a few occasions that a third industrial revolution is the game plan for Germany and they’re doing it quietly: pillar one, renewables; pillar two, converting buildings all over Germany to partial power plants – solar, wind; pillar three, hydrogen storage for the new automobiles; pillar four, utility companies are starting to move towards distributed…Germany leads. Germany led the second industrial revolution with the internal combustion engine and the Autobahn. And they’re leading the third industrial revolution. Spainis not far behind – it is number one in renewables under Prime Minister [José Luis Rodríguez] Zapatero’s administration. It’s number one in terms of percentage of renewables in overall energy – it’s number two behind Germany because Germany has more renewables due to a bigger physical output. Scandinavian countries are moving this way. But what you’re asking is whether they see the Lisbon Agenda and Europe 2020 with the same kind of vision that a Jacques Delors would have?

Exactly, thanks for rephrasing it …


That is what’s required now. What they have to do is step to the fore. I gave President Barroso very strong points for his tenure: I think he has been very strong for the EU. You have a new president [Hermann Van Rompuy] – who I’ve just met for the first time – and I think he has an understanding of the big picture. And I think some of the heads of state do, but what I’m saying is that it’s very difficult for any political leader who has a crisis each day to get out of that and still be positioned with a long-term vision that they can get the public to embrace. I do believe that up to now, that the vision I’ve outlined has been an elite vision – a vision in Brussels, in the Parliament, the Commission and of some heads of state, but has it moved out to become a major public discussion that brings in the population of Europe in a significant way – like the expansion of the EU, the introduction of the euro or Maastricht? No. It needs to go from the elite areas to the people. In some countries, it is. As we’re moving in with our master plans, everyone in Rome and now Italy knows what we’re doing – the Mayor of Rome said 'let’s do it'. It requires political leaders who can ‘talk the talk’ with the public and still ‘walk the walk’. What that means is, there’s no reason why any political leader shouldn’t be able to get up in their county or in Brussels and say: the second industrial revolution has matured; the energies are clearly mature energies – coal, oil, gas and uranium – and the technologies based on those energies are old technologies, their multiplier effect is exhausted; the infrastructure built from fossil fuels is ageing. Any politician can say that. Second, they should say: where do we want to be in twenty years from now, in Europe? Do we want to have the sunset energies, sunset technologies and sunset infrastructure of a twentieth century second industrial revolution? Or do we want the sunrise energies, sunrise technologies and sunrise infrastructure of a twenty-first century third industrial revolution? Number three, they should say: this is the next stage in European integration, this is the way that Europe can be a European community – where you do not lose your own locality or your own identity, but you share it by sharing energy across Europe and creating an integrated market in the biggest integrated market in the world – for the 500 million people in Europe and another 500 million from associated partners in the region. You can complete Lisbon, you can have a 2020 agenda and you can build a third industrial revolution with millions of local jobs to create the entire infrastructure – like we did in the second industrial revolution: the highways, the suburbs, etc. Finally, point four, turn to the younger generation in Europe and say the following: for a younger generation under the age of thirty, who grew up on the Internet, who have become comfortable with the idea of creating their own information and sharing it with each other in common social spaces – YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Google, etc. – say to them, why not join with us in a challenging journey for Europe: to create your own energy and share it peer-to-peer in open social spaces, like you create and share information in cyberspace. That should be the four-point winning formula that any political leader should be able to say to any audience – grandparents, parents and children – in Europe.

Let me take what you are saying and put it in the context of the failure of Copenhagen. Should we put our resources behind implementing the third industrial revolution and forget international negotiations that seem to be stuck in delivering an international legally-binding agreement?


I met with [UNFCCC chief] Yvo de Boer a year before Copenhagen and I told him then that if everyone comes to Copenhagen and it’s all about benchmarks of who has to commit to what to CO2 reductions, everyone is going to see it as a punishment. Every country will blame the other country, and say ‘not me, you first’. I said to him that Copenhagen has to stand as a moment for an economic vision and game plan that converts a punishment into an opportunity – from a terrible catastrophic loss for the planet to a great challenging opportunity for the future. Otherwise, I said, it would collapse. And it collapsed. Because everyone came to Copenhagen with a geopolitical frame of reference: that is battling each other to maintain their own position. It was a joke. [US] President [Barack] Obama barging into doors to try and sit down with the Chinese delegation… it was preposterous. It was sad, it was …


Leaderless. It was a big moment for the human race. We have been here 175,000 years, we are the youngest species on the planet – and here was a moment of crisis. Our scientists tell us that we may be seeing the potential mass extinction of life on this planet by the end of the century, our own species is in peril, we are seeing a real-time climate change: this is our moment, and we allowed it to slip by. This next stage after the collapse of Copenhagen and now with the collapse of the global economy, we have to change the way we think about all this and we have to see that opportunity for a new economic vision, game plan and a new economic revolution that will get us to a post-carbon society. If you are saying, what about if the EU does it and no one else does it, this is what I am going to tell you: if the EU does it, everyone is going to be jumping on board, because China and India, the United States and Japan do not want to be back in the pack in the sunset of the second industrial revolution, whose technologies are old, and whose infrastructure is collapsing, while the great world power, the EU, the lead economy is moving quickly to a third industrial revolution: new technology, new infrastructure, millions of jobs and economic sustainability and post-carbon. Why would anyone want to stay in the sunset of the second industrial revolution, which is collapsing?

So if everyone is on track to achieve what you are describing, then we can get a legally-binding agreement?


At that point, we don’t even need a legally-binding agreement. Once you have started moving towards a third industrial revolution, it is completely irrelevant, because it is post-carbon. The EU now needs to go out and… Communicate? That’s correct. In the midst of this crisis, this is the time for the EU to step back and look at where the recovery is, and instead it is looking at austerity, unemployment and cuts. We are going to have big troubles in the streets. We have it in the US, but not in the streets yet. But it is bad: we have real unemployment of 18%, if you count the detached workers that only work a few hours. If they just go day to day in trying to put out a fire, and they don’t have this new economic vision that is workable, that has been endorsed by the Parliament, that has been activated by the Commission, that is starting to move in some way as a major vision for Europe, they are going to deal with bigger and bigger fires and eventually they will not be able to put them out. You cannot live in a political space anywhere in the world that is all based on less opportunity and more crisis every day. Eventually, you will get people in the streets and we lose opportunities and get rebellion in the streets. Every day we lose an opportunity, we have one less day available to us.

Do you think this has been communicated enough? Are we capable of telling the story of a human revolution and convincing people to follow?


I am 65 years old and I will not see this. But this is what I really believe: for all of its faults – and I am not naïve about Europe, I have spent 20-odd years working there – with all of its problems, Europe is still the laboratory for the world. The new ideas on how we move from geopolitics to biosphere politics, how we move from a world based on military might to a world based on building bridges of peace, how we move to a world based on quality of life and not on individual accumulation of wealth, how we move to a continental form of government that is networked and not centralised – the European dream is to see Europe’s youngest generation, especially middle class, college-oriented, now beginning to have a sense of global humanity. I am not saying there is no populism or xenophobic movements, but the younger generation is on the Internet everyday. Now is the time for Europe to step to the fore – Europe has the idea. America is moving further and further back in time: politics is getting bad. China is a top-down centralised regime that is going to implode. What is left? Europe has to step to fore – we need some political leadership and as you say, they are going to have to start telling a story. What I have just said is not a difficult story. Yes, it makes sense, but is not easy. But people need to believe in it, because we can probably make it work.

Rome Master Plan

We're glad to make you available the final version of the Master Plan for Rome created by Jeremy Rifkin and his team, in cooperation with the Municipality of Rome and other professionals.

Click the following link to view the document.

Final Rome Master Plan [donate]

CETRI experts meet the Bahrain authorities to start devising a Third Industrial Revolution energy plan for the Principality of Bahrain

Below fidn the Nnwspaper's article about the journey of CETRI-TIRES's members Angelo Consoli (President), Peter Marchl and Bruno D'Aguanno in Bahrain for a meeting with Government's representatives and Kholood Akbari, form the  Association of Engineering Offices of Bahrain.

After spending €587 million, EU has zero CO2 storage plants


The following investigation was published on the EU Observer last September 25th and we decided to re publish it in view of its translation that we are taking care of on the Italian Page of the TIRES-CETRI web site, to spread information and sparkle a debate on how badly EU tax payers money is wasted just to permit the fossil industry to survive a few more years. In fact what we learn from this investigation is that, like in the Wolkswagen diesel scum two years ago, there is NO clean way to make energy from fossil fuels. And all attempts to establish that,  resulted, results and will result in an intolerable waste of public resources and a diversion of public funds from much more needed clean and zero marginal cost Third Industrial revolution solar energy technologies. The only sustainable economic plans are decarbonized economic plans. All the rest is a travesty and should be banned immediately for a fast transition to a post carbon, T.I.R. society.

Angelo Consoli
President of the Third Industrial Revolution European Society (T.I.R.E.S.)

Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, a major risk for banks, as well as for the environment

A new analysis warns that TAP could be a blood bath for the financial institutions even before being an environmental hazard. The Third Industrial Revolution SOciety is proud of having been the engine of the opposition to this useless, harmful project since day one.

NO COAL Brindisi with CETRI-TIRES’ President Angelo Consoli, at the NO TAP march on 20th of September 2014

An analysis published today by the finance watchdog groups Counter Balance and BankTrack has warned potential commercial bank investors to steer clear of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) owing to the project’s non-compliance with the Equator Principles, a set of risk management guidelines for project finance adopted by 89 commercial banks around the world. [1]

Based on a range of evidence from Albania and Greece, where TAP construction is under way and posing threats to numerous communities, and Italy, where the €5 billion gas pipeline’s construction is stalled due to extensive local and regional opposition as well as ongoing legal challenges, the new analysis comes a day ahead of the latest high-level Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council meeting in Azerbaijan which will involve representation from the corridor’s transit countries, the European Commission, the USA and international public development banks. [2]

According to the TAP company, the 879 kilometre pipeline project will affect approximately 19,060 plots of land and approximately 45,000 land owners and users in Albania, Greece and Italy. At least 13 complaints from affected individuals and stakeholder groups about the TAP company’s implementation of the project in Albania, Greece and Italy have already been submitted to the European Investment Bank, which has been considering the TAP project for finance since August 2015.

Reflecting these complaints, the NGO analysis identifies problematic issues related to compensation for land owners, the TAP company’s heavy-handed approach to land acquisition and pipeline routing, and – in Italy – the project’s fundamental lack of preparedness which has resulted in a string of legal disputes still awaiting verdicts in the Italian courts.

Xavier Sol, director of Counter Balance, said:

“The European Commission’s alarming cosying up to the hardline Azerbaijan regime for more fossil fuels which Europe doesn’t need is now resulting in serious, direct headaches for Europeans, as our new analysis of the TAP project reveals. The likes of the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which are considering finance for TAP should be aware of these ongoing failures in the project construction. If they should choose to rubber stamp TAP in its current state, it would not give the project a clean bill of health for private banks to enter into the financing.”

Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy campaign coordinator at BankTrack, said:

“Private banks need to be aware about the shoddy way in which the TAP project is proceeding on the ground, far removed from the public relations fanfare ringing out from the governments involved. Serious impacts to communities and the environment are cropping up and not getting resolved. For banks which have signed up to the Equator Principles, this has to mean that TAP is a no-go investment. The reputation of the Equator Principles has suffered recently from the Dakota Access Pipeline debacle in the US, and banks need to make sure these lessons are learned when it comes to TAP.”


Read the full report here.

Germany goes Hydrogen to 2026!

Klaus Bonhoff – N.O.W.

We received from Dr. Klaus Bonhoff Managing Director of NOW GmbH
(Nationale Organisation Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellentechnologie)
(National Organization for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell technologies)

(Courtesy of  Byron McCormick)

the very important information that the German Government has approved to continue the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies (NIP) for another ten years (2016-2026).

While in the first phase (2007-2016) the target was on market preparation of respective web_bra_001_dr-_klaus_bonhoff_dr-_christopher_hebling__werner_diwald_dr-_bernd_pitschak_markus_bachmeier_5923technologies, with the result of market-ready technical performance,  the second phase (2016-2026) will focus on (i) continued R&D to further reduce costs and (ii) market activation. Market activation for transportation will especially include support for a commercial development of a hydrogen station network (e.g. via H2 Mobility Germany), development of hydrogen production based on renewable power (electrolysis), incentive programs for fuel cell vehicles (especially rail and busses) and green logistics (FC applications at production sites, airports etc.).dsc00304_488x324

Very soon we’ll make available a translation of the program document that was approved by the German Government on Sept. 28th, 2016.







Best regards,

Klaus Bonhoff



Rome from the “integrated” waste management ( = incinirators) to the virtuos closing of the Consumption cycle with NO WASTE

13873164_10208435752146283_3206294684886037752_nThere has been an awful lot of talking these last days on Paola Muraro, the new Rome Environment chief who has been working for the Waste Utility AMA for the last 12 years and represents no discontinuity with the catastrophic management of the waste cycle in the eternal city.

Zero Waste means a revolution towards the circular economy and  ten steps towards a virtuous closing of the consumption cycle without waste. In this sense Ms Muraro professional experince and competence is the opposit of what is needed.

She obviously belongs to a completely opposit culture, mentality and spirit having been for the last 12 years the main consultant of AMA supervising the inciniration related plants and processes, and the President of the association of the pro incinirators lobby in Italy Atia-ISWA.

She was responsible for the managment of the two AMA MBT plants who lie in disastrous conditions, and for the policies concerning the organic waste which is organized “exporting” 150 tons of organioc waste a day (!!!) on trucks to the compost plant of Pordenone in Northern Italy, a process that press sources report as the result of dodgy tendering process that saw Ms Muraro as a consultant to AMA to write the tendering specifications and to the Company Bioman who won.

The Rome prosecutor office has opened a criminal investigation against Ms Muraro for her relations with “Mafia Capitale” personalities and for environmental violations reported by citizen of the Colleferro incinirators on the toxic quality of the MBT material that was certified non toxic by Ms Muraro according to the prosecutor claims, while instead it was.

In 2014 after  Ms Muraro in her capacity of the incinirators supporters lobby ATIA-ISWA wrote a letter of complaint to Rai television for having broadcast the film, Trashed that she accused of making “environmental ill information and misguidance about the health risks of the incinirators“, (, the 5 Star Movement wrote an article against her accusing of being the top lobbyist for incinirators (see
The choice of Ms Muraro doesn’t find any possible justification under no point of view, because she needs mixed waste to justify her services, and is absolutely unable and unwilling to plan any  strategy to reduce the outrageous amount of 3.000 tons of mixed waste that are incredibly produced dayly by the City of Rome (so much so that “waste reduction” is completely disappeared by the Roman radar screen.

She is instead very clear that that Rome should use Cerroni’s plants paying an outrageous amount of money  per ton to use his very expensive waste chopper and MBT facilities, as reported by newspapers who unveiled that she met with Cerroni’s people even before she got appointed in order to make this unbelievable deal (anything but reducing waste!).

ZERO WASTE Master, Paul Connett

One can ask what has that to do with a Zero Waste Strategy promoted world wide by professor Paul Connett as main reference for the circular economy?

Which part of the REDUCE/REUSE/RECYCLE/REDESIGN strategy does the Rome Mayor not understant that she has appointed Ms Muraro as Environment Chief of the City of Rome?

Justifiers of this wicked choice mantain that Ms Muraro, regardless to her pro incinirators past, will now have to implement the Rome administration Zero Waste strategy.

But is that really so? In this analysis of  the Rome Metropolitan Zero Waste Network, it is evident that it’s the opposit. It’s not Ms Muraro that is complying with Zero Waste, but it is the City of Rome that is complying with Ms Muraro / Mr Cerroni’s vision of the waste management, adopting the controversial “Gestione Integrata” which has no ambition of reducing or reusing but simply recycling a very small part of the waste produced, and leave  the rest to be treated by MBT and chopping plants to end up in incinirators.
It is evident that when this Mayor says Zero Waste, she means something different, from what Zero Waste really is, as one can see by this article she wrote on Beppe Grillo’s blog a few days ago.

In that article she claimes Zero Waste strategy by referring to vague policies “aiming at the culture of reuse and recycle” (whatever that means), while the only concrete example of a Zero Waste action she claims is the fact of having made ordinary manteinance to MBT plants (see

It is evident that there is no ZERO WASTE  plan for Rome despite the bombastic announcements of the pre-elections program (see

A plan that has obviously ended up in a Trash bin as soon as the word “Muraro” was pronounced by the Mayor.

The truth is, as this analysis shows, that Zero Waste is completely out of the Roman administration radar screen, and the city guidelines speak of a way less ambitious “Gestione Integrata” of the Waste Management.

This document hopes for a rapid correction of route towards a Zero Waste oriented policy based on existing legislation (deliberation 219/2014 of the Roman City Council), and calls for the 5 Star city government to stick to the origional Zero Waste claim and remain faithful to the strategy proposed by Paul Connett.

And by the TRASHED Film that Ms Muraro considers “ill informed” and “environmentally misguiding”.

(the document is in Italian and will be made available also in English soon).

Dalla gestione “integrata” a quella “orientata” dei rifiuti urbani a Roma

Zero Waste Roma-logo

Siamo appena entrati nella tanto attesa fase di “rivoluzione popolare” da parte del M5S e
di un auspicato “nuovo corso” da avviare in molte grandi e piccole città sulla base del
terremoto delle ultime elezioni amministrative, tra cui spicca per ruolo guida nazionale la
conquista della guida di Roma Capitale ovviamente.
E proprio da Roma Capitale ci aspettavamo segnali chiaramente distinguibili di
“discontinuità” ma soprattutto di “alternatività” a quanto sinora era stato messo in campo
dalle precedenti giunte nella gestione dei rifiuti urbani, sulla scorta di normative tuttora
ancorate al gestire i rifiuti urbani, soprattutto nelle Regioni del Centro Sud del paese, come
un problema di igiene pubblica legato allo smaltimento dell’immondizia utilizzando e
promuovendo largamente tecnologie nocive come megadiscariche ed inceneritori.
Ci aspettavamo quindi quel salto di qualità o di “paradigma” che da un decennio
abbiamo diffuso e condiviso con i movimenti tra cui il M5S, che anzi ne ha fatto uno
dei cinque valori fondanti, che risponde al percorso “verso rifiuti zero”, nuovo paradigma
che parte dall’esclusione pregiudiziale dell’uso di tecnologie nocive per la salute e
l’ambiente come megadiscariche ed inceneritori per avviare finalmente il ciclo virtuoso che
trasforma attraverso un percorso graduale ma ben delineato i rifiuti in “scarti differenziati”
da cui ricavare nuovi materiali nell’ottica di una vera sostenibilità del sistema e del suo
Tale percorso “verso rifiuti zero” è esattamente quello che abbiamo promosso noi
per primi a Roma sin dal 2007, condividendolo con la nascente rete di Meetup e con il
neonato M5S nel 2009, sino al lancio di una specifica Delibera di Iniziativa Popolare nel
2011 con un vasto Comitato promotore, che ha visto dopo tre anni ed un lungo confronto
tecnico la condivisione dei suoi principi ed obiettivi con la giunta Marino, e la sua
approvazione in Aula Capitolina a dicembre 2014 come Delibera AC n. 129/2014.
Un patrimonio culturale che abbiamo quindi condiviso con la città e con quanti come il
gruppo consiliare del M5S ne hanno apprezzato quello spirito innovativo e rivoluzionario,
pur astenendosi al voto come gruppo di opposizione, contenuto in particolare nella parte
relativa all’istituzione di una rete di Osservatori municipali e comunale che ha introdotto un
nuovo concetto di Partecipazione Popolare e di “confronto permanente” sul territorio. Una partecipazione che passa dalla semplice “consultazione” dei cittadini ad un
possibile percorso di “decisionalità condivisa” tra cittadini ed amministratori in
organismi paritari che si assumono il compito di monitorare l’attuazione del percorso e di
informare i territori, in cui la delegazione civica dovrà essere espressione della parte attiva
presente nei territori e farà da portavoce anche delle risultanze di “Forum cittadini” aperti a
tutti in cui si discuterà delle criticità presenti ma anche delle proposte alternative.
Tutto ciò non sembra sia stato né valutato né tantomeno citata la Delibera AC n. 129/2014
sia nel programma elettorale del M5S, pur condivisibile in larga parte, che nel documento
di “Linee programmatiche 2016-2021 della giunta Raggi” approvato in Aula Capitolina che
disegna i cardini dell’attività della presente consiliatura.
Anzi nel citato documento programmatico ci ritroviamo illustrati concetti che
ritenevamo superati dal M5S come la “gestione integrata” dei rifiuti, presente
nella normativa sin dalla originaria legge Ronchi, e che elenca nel vetusto T.U. vigente (D.
Lgs. 152/2006) la previsione “integrata” di filiere “antagoniste” come il ricorso sia alla
raccolta differenziata ed al riciclaggio (per il recupero di materia) che all’incenerimento ed
allo smaltimento in discarica (per la distruzione di materia) oltre che le modalità di gestione
tra enti diversi territoriali.
Infatti nel citato documento programmatico non solo non si trova neppure una riga di
commento rispetto alla uscita dalla attuale filiera “inceneritorista” in atto da anni, con
la cessazione della produzione del pessimo CDR nei TMB di Rocca Cencia e via Salaria
ed il suo conferimento negli inceneritori di Colleferro o in altri inceneritori del Nord, ma
neppure si ipotizza la loro riconversione a “recupero di materia” concetto teorico pur
accennato ma senza alcuna descrizione attuativa.
Tanto per essere chiari, si dovrebbe intanto prendere atto che l’ex decreto Sblocca Italia
oggi Legge 133/2014 ha già stabilito la costruzione nel Centro Sud di nove nuovi
inceneritori e dei sei inceneritori già autorizzati, tra cui ricadono sia l’esistente ma
fermo “Malagrotta 1” ed il già richiesto raddoppio con l’avvio di “Malagrotta 2” che
l’ampliamento del mega-inceneritore di ACEA a S. Vittore-FR ed un nuovo inceneritore nel
Lazio da 215mila ton/anno ancora da ubicare, con la previsione per il LAZIO con il
parere favorevole della giunta Zingaretti di passare dalle attuali circa 450.000 ton/anno
di incenerimento autorizzato al suo raddoppio con ben 940.000 ton/anno !!!!
Noi chiediamo invece l’attuazione di una “gestione orientata” dei rifiuti di Roma, ed
orientata molto precisamente “verso rifiuti zero”, dal momento che non ci sono più
neppure gli impedimenti normativi passati in merito al conferimento in discarica di frazioni
di scarto “ad elevato contenuto energetico”, che si era tradotto nell’inevitabilità di
incenerirle “per legge”, e ribadiamo quanto in parte già contenuto nella Delibera AC n.129/2014 rispetto alle previsioni impiantistiche contenute ai commi 9 – 10 – 11 ed in parte
quanto rappresentato alla precedente giunta Marino ma non inserito nella Delibera stessa:
1) la conferma della attuazione piena del principio di “autosufficienza” di Roma
Capitale all’interno del suo territorio e l’ubicazione di piccoli impianti di “prossimità” per
il trattamento dei rifiuti di livello municipale, ubicati in ogni Municipio eccetto quelli del
Centro storico;
2) la realizzazione una rete capillare di infrastrutture comunali, con Centri di Riuso
per i beni usati e Centri di Raccolta per i rifiuti domestici da ubicare in ogni
3) la chiusura della produzione di CDR intanto nei due impianti TMB di AMA, la loro
riconversione a “recupero di materia”, migliorando la separazione della frazione organica
ed aggiungendo la selezione con un impianto in coda per separare carta e plastica,
materiali da avviare a riciclo industriale od estrusione con altri scarti di plastiche
eterogenee per la produzione di “plasmix” a bassa temperatura;
4) la delocalizzazione degli impianti TMB di AMA fuori dai centri abitati e la
realizzazione di nuovi “piccoli” impianti TMB riconvertibili, il riutilizzo dei due impianti
esistenti modificati con la riconversione ad impianti di selezione per il multi-materiale
secco stradale e domiciliare, una lavorazione da re-internalizzare in AMA che ne
eviterebbe di pagare sia i costi dei sub-appalti ai privati che la cessione gratuita del valore
dei materiali;

piras consoli

5) la previsione di piccoli impianti di riciclo del secco e di compostaggio aerobico
dell’umido tarati sull’utenza del bacino municipale, in cui la previsione sia di costituire
Sub-Ato nei quindici Municipi con una autonomia gestionale implementata con il percorso
di decentramento operativo di AMA e con il necessario ma graduale avvio della
trasformazione dei Municipi in “Comuni Metropolitani”;
6) la previsione di piccoli depositi, nei Municipi dotati di impiantistica, per un futuro
riutilizzo di scarti di lavorazione dalle frazioni secche non riciclabili post-selezione da
TMB o scarti provenienti dalle frazioni residue domiciliari ma non recuperabili con le attuali
tecnologie, in attesa di nuovi processi di recupero dei materiali.
Ora è del tutto evidente che questo rappresenti il Programma strategico al 2021,
mentre al momento stanno crescendo giorno dopo giorno le condizioni per la
proclamazione dello stato di emergenza rifiuti a Roma ed il suo commissariamento a cura
del Governo, condizione che ucciderebbe nella culla la nuova giunta di Virginia Raggi e la
confusa ed omissiva programmazione quinquennale adottata dai neo Consiglieri Comunali
distratti e forse talmente emozionati dal non aver nemmeno letto i contenuti delle Linee
citate, visto che non c’è neppure una riga sull’alternativa all’incenerimento ed agli esistenti impiantisti di TMB di AMA, che pure continuano a produrre un pessimo CDR da incenerire
a Colleferro od in qualsiasi inceneritore del Nord.
Quello che vorremmo capire della giunta Raggi e dal M5S, al di là della cronaca legata
alla gestione dell’emergenza romana in agguato, è se la voluta omissione di un giudizio
sulla Delibera AC n. 129/2014 e di una chiara posizione anti-inceneritorista derivi dalla
visione “integrata” della sua assessora Muraro e da una possibile riedizione a Roma del
“sistema pubblico-privato” di Hera Ambiente (che in Emilia Romagna gestisce sia ben
sette inceneritori che una raccolta differenziata circa al 50% anche per ovvie esigenze di
“alimentazione dei forni”).
Una operazione forse già pianificata (?) attraverso un accordo strategico tra AMA e
CO.LA.RI. giustificato dalla pre-emergenza in atto che chiuderebbe qualsiasi dubbio in
merito alla contesa in atto ed all’indirizzo da dare alla “gestione integrata” dei rifiuti
romani, specialmente se nel contempo si registrerà la mancanza di una capacità politica
“alternativa” ad affrontare i rischi connessi ad una decapitazione dei vertici di AMA per
procedere alla totale ristrutturazione dell’azienda comunale AMA spa che implica scelte
coRaggiose ma anche dirompenti.
Una ristrutturazione che dovrebbe vedere al centro del processo i lavoratori ed i
tecnici di AMA che elaborano insieme agli amministratori comunali ma anche ai cittadini
un “Piano straordinario provvisorio” in cui si taglino tutte le consulenze esterne e le
posizioni dirigenziali non di stretta necessità, si re-internalizzino le lavorazioni appaltate
all’esterno e si proceda con un fondo straordinario ad hoc all’assunzione straordinaria di
nuovo personale e di nuovi mezzi da utilizzare per l’estensione immediata della
raccolta porta a porta in tutta la città che resta l’unica alternativa all’emergenza se
vengono insieme attivati anche gli strumenti di monitoraggio popolare sul territorio.
Tale Piano straordinario infatti dovrebbe vedere la sua attuazione con una
gigantesca e capillare Campagna di comunicazione, attivando subito in forma
sperimentale gli Osservatori municipali e comunale “verso rifiuti zero” come
strumento di monitoraggio – proposta – confronto permanente tra Amministrazione –
AMA da una parte e la parte più attiva della cittadinanza dall’altra per prevenire
fenomeni di vandalismo o di abbandono attraverso gruppi di controllo civico volontari.
Roma 26 luglio 2016
Il Presidente di Zero Waste Lazio
Massimo Piras

Per ulteriori approfondimenti:
Su Rifiuti Zero:

Sull’economia circolare:


“WALK ON WATER” to support Medicines Sans Frontieres refugees support work.

“If I could walk on water I don’t have to cross that bridge,
If I could walk on wather I won’t give my body to the sea”

Bai Kamara Jr and a host of other top Belgian artists release a new single in support of Médecins Sans Frontières Belgiums Refugee support work

Bai Kamara Jr.

Sierra-Leonian a
uthor and singer Bai Kamara Jr has donated his song If I Can Walk on Waterto Médecins Sans Frontières Belgiums refugee support work, for a fund-raising collaboration.

The song has been recorded with the generous participation of a number of BelgiSchermata del 2015-12-16 13:50:15an Artists including Daan, Guy Swinnen (The Scabs), Marie Daulne (Zap Mama), Stéphanie Blanchoud, Manou Gallo, and Beverly Joe Scott (Solo Artist and Judge on The Voice
Schermata del 2015-12-16 13:50:55
Belgique). All proceeds raised will go directly to M
édecins Sans Frontières Belgium.

Bai said: After seeing the horrific images of refugees and their families drowning on the beaches of Turkey and on the Mediterranean coast I called AZG/ MSFwith whom I had collaborated in the past and told them about my idea of recording the song, “If I could Walk On Water” with a handful of Belgian artist who I know would be generous with their talent for a worthy cause.

To make this worthwhile collaboration a success we need your participation. Schermata del 2015-12-16 13:49:23You can show your support by sharing the video and purchasing the song on iTunes, Amazon Downloads, and other digital outlets, and asking all your friends to do the same. Lets make this fund raising program a big success for Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium.

All the proceeds of the sales and composers rights of this of the song will go directly to Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium to thank them with their efforts in helping the refugees.

Schermata del 2015-12-16 13:49:35

All artists, musicians, technicians, distributors and studios gave their time for free for this project.

Schermata del 2015-12-16 13:51:57


You can watch the video at this YouTube link:




For donations:

Bank account for the campaign:

BE53 7320 2523 9653

The payment code “WALK ON WATER”


Daan:Lead vocals

Guy Swinnen:lead vocals

Marie Daulne:Lead vocals

Stéphanie Blanchoud:Lead vocals

Beverly Jo Scott:Lead vocals

Nina Babet:Background vocals

Kiù Jérôme:Background vocals

Daddy Waku:Background vocals

Marie-Ange Tchaï Teuwen:Background vocals

Anna Claire Bullock: Reading

Manou Gallo:Bass

Jon Bradshaw:Percussion

Bai Kamara Jr:Acoustic guitar & lead vocals

Eric Moens:12 string & electric guitar

Co-produced by Steve Bullock & Eric Moens

Arrangements Eric Moens & Manou Gallo

Recorded & engineered by Steve Bullock at Zinne Studios, Brussels

Mixed by Mark Francois

Schermata del 2015-12-16 13:48:09

keep it in te groundSo, what was the deal in Paris? Adam Vaughan, of “The Guardian” sheds some light for us on what appears like a very controversial agreement in which everybody agreed to have vey ambitious but not binding commitments. It is worth recalling that the Guardian is the only newspaper who undertook a campaign to plede the end of the fossil era… Keep it in the Ground… ———————————–

Adam Vaughan
I’ve just returned from Paris, where exhausted delegates from 195 countriesagreed on the first ever universal deal on climate change.

There was no end of superlatives for the Paris Agreement. It would be a turning point in human history, transformative, momentous, historical, according to François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore and the many other dignitaries in the French capital. 

This deal would be a game-changer and redefine future economic development, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, told my colleague Fiona Harvey.

The atmosphere at COP21, where the deal was struck after several sleepless days and last minute haggling over a verb in the 31-page text, was unprecedented in two decades of climate talks, according to veterans of the negotiations. 

When Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister and president of the talks, announced the deal’s adoption and brought down his leaf-shaped gavel, the halls of the summit erupted with applause. UN and French officials laughed, hugged, held hands aloft on stage and gave thumbs-up to the crowd. Even journalists clapped.

Not everyone thinks the deal goes far enough, and the carbon curbs it’s linked to are entirely voluntary. But, as Barack Obama put it, the Paris Agreement is the “best chance” we have of stopping dangerous global warming. 

Adam Vaughan

Reading list:


Keeping temperature rises below 1.5C

Governments have agreed to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels: something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago.

There is a scientific rationale for the number. John Schellnhuber, a scientist who advises Germany and the Vatican, says 1.5C marks the point where there is a real danger of serious “tipping points” in the world’s climate.

The goal of 1.5C is a big leap below the 2C that nearly 200 countries agreed as a limit six years ago in Copenhagen. But bear in mind we’ve already hit 1C, and recent data shows no sign of a major fall in the global emissions driving the warming.

As many of the green groups here in Paris note, the 1.5C aspiration is meaningless if there aren’t measures for hitting it.

Pledges to curb emissions

Before the conference started, more than 180 countries had submitted pledges to cut or curb their carbon emissions (intended nationally defined contributions, or INDCs, in the UN jargon). These are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 2C – in fact it is thought they will lead to a 2.7C rise or higher.

The INDCs are recognised under the agreement, but are not legally binding.

Long-term global goal for net zero emissions

Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.

Experts say, in plain English, that means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must happen by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.

Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute said the long-term goal was “transformational” and “sends signals into the heart of the markets”.

Take stock every five years

187 countries have put forward their plans for how to cut and curb their emissions beyond 2020, as far out as 2030.

But those pledges are not enough to keep warming below 2C, beyond which climate change is expected to have catastrophic impacts. According to several analyses, the plans will see around 2.7-3C.

That’s why the text has a review mechanism to ramp up those pledges every five years, in order to make them strong enough to keep under 2C. The first stocktake will happen in 2018, but the first one under the deal happens in 2023. The text promises that parties “shall undertake … [the] first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years”.

Loss and damage

The deal includes loss and damage, a mechanism for addressing the financial losses vulnerable countries face from climate impacts such as extreme weather.

But it also includes a clause that will keep the US happy – that it won’t face financial claims from vulnerable countries hit by climate change: it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.


Finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy was an important sticking point in the negotiations. This part of the deal has been moved into the non-legally binding “decision text” – a sop to the US, which knows it would not be able to get such a pledge of cash past the Republican-controlled Senate.

The draft text says that the countries “intend to continue their existing collective mobilisation goal through 2025”. That means the flow of $100bn (£66bn) a year will continue beyond 2020. By 2025 the draft agreement undertakes to improve on that “from a floor of $100bn”.




Life after capitalism…

Is there Life after Capitalism?

Jeremy Rifkin shed liSchermata del 2015-12-11 15:51:08ght on the raise of the collaborative Commons, the internet of things, the sharing economy and the transition from the economy of possession to the economy of access, the evolution from consumer to the “prosumer”, the technological unemployment (but also the technological employment)… and the “end” of the European Dream.

See all of this in this 6 minutes long interview on Europarl TV by Maria Maggiore…


Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:49:43 Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:51:58

Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:51:22 Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:51:32 Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:51:43 Schermata del 2015-12-11 15:52:13


When the German Court took a decision against Uber Cars Jeremy Rifkin made a substantial comment on the Huffington Post. First of all are we sure that UBER Cars is “Sharing Economy”?

Bloomberg via Getty ImagesIn a stunning decision, the German court system yesterday banned Uber, the global carsharing service, from operating in the country, citing safety risks and lack of regulatory oversight. The court decision is part of a much larger story unfolding around the world. A new economic system — the Collaborative Commons — is beginning to flourish alongside the conventional capitalist market, wreaking havoc on traditional industries. (The Collaborative Commons is a digitalized space where providers and users share goods and services.)

Uber’s success is due, in large part, to the morphing of the Internet into a super Internet of Things, allowing carsharing services and other types of enterprises to operate on a Collaborative Commons, at near zero marginal cost, undercutting the higher fixed and marginal costs of conventional businesses. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service after fixed costs have been absorbed.)

The near zero marginal cost phenomenon has already transformed the “information goods” industries as millions of consumers turned prosumers and began to produce and share their own music, videos, news, and knowledge for free in a Collaborative Commons on the Internet, disrupting the recording industry, film and television, newspapers and magazines, and book publishing.

Now, the zero marginal cost phenomenon is moving from the virtual world to the brick-and-mortar economy. The Communication Internet is converging with an embryonic automated Logistics and Transport Internet and a fledgling Energy Internet, combining communication, mobility, and energy into a single operating system — a Third Industrial Revolution. Billions — and soon trillions — of sensors will connect everything in the economy, continuously feeding Big Data across the Internet of Things platform, allowing enterprises and hundreds of millions of prosumers to use the information to reduce the marginal cost of producing and sharing physical things and services to near zero, just as we have done in producing and sharing information goods on the current Internet.Businesses like Uber are able to set up a website with low fixed costs, connecting thousands of potential drivers to their service at near zero marginal cost. Uber trumps traditional taxi services by utilizing GPS guidance on a Logistics Internet to connect riders with drivers, at near zero marginal cost to the company.

Carsharing services like Autolib’ are taking mobility a step further, introducing electric vehicles in Paris and London powered, in part, by green electricity. In Paris, 140,000 subscribers have taken 5 million trips since 2011. While the fixed costs of the harvesting technologies to generate green electricity are decreasing exponentially, the marginal cost of producing renewable energy is near zero. The sun and the wind are free and only need to be captured and stored.

Electricity companies are beginning to transform their transmission grids into a digitalized Energy Internet, enabling millions of prosumers to share their green electricity with others across electricity lines. (On May 11th, 74% of the electricity powering Germany came from renewable energy.) The transformation of the global electricity grid into an Energy Internet will allow hundreds of millions of people to travel in car-shared vehicles powered by near zero marginal cost energy.

Soon, even the marginal labor cost of driving shared cars will plunge to near zero, as driverless vehicles — connected to the Internet of Things — replace human operators. Google, General Motors, Mercedes, and others companies are already testing driverless vehicles.

Looking further down the road, micro manufactures will be able to 3D-print electric and fuel cell vehicles, at low fixed costs, further weakening the prevailing auto industry. Local Motors, a US based company, will introduce the Strati, a 3D printed electric vehicle, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. While the car uses an electric powertrain from a Renault Twizzy, its chassis is printed out in a single piece. The seats, dashboard, hood, and trunk are also 3D printed. The Strati is produced in layers and the additive manufacturing process uses approximately one tenth of the materials needed to produce factory made automobiles.

Uber and other carsharing services reflect a fundamental shift in how a younger generation views mobility. Millennials prefer access to ownership; why purchase a car, when Uber and other carsharing services can provide convenient and instant mobility on a Collaborative Commons at a fraction of the cost of owning an automobile? Each car-shared vehicle eliminates 15 personally owned cars.

Carsharing services are just the tip of the zero marginal cost iceberg. Millions of people are also sharing apartments and homes, clothes, tools, and other goods and services on the emerging Collaborative Commons at low or near zero marginal cost. A 2012 study found that 62% of Gen-Xers and Millennials are attracted to the notion of sharing goods, services, and experiences with one another.

The conventional capitalist market is not going to disappear. New companies, like Uber, will thrive, primarily as aggregators of shared network services, allowing them to prosper as powerful partners in the coming era, but they will no longer be the exclusive arbiters of economic life. We are entering a world partially beyond markets where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent global Collaborative Commons. Germany and other governments around the world will need to create the appropriate legal framework to allow the sharing economy to grow.images

This is the link to the original article:

1.5 stay alive! A cry from Paris (by John Vidal from The Guardian)

John Vidal
John Vidal

John Vidal, environment Editor of the Guardian reports from Paris at a crucial time when the negociating teams are deciding weather they have an agreement or not. For all those who  want to be informed of what is really going on in Paris, especially with regards to the “money issue” (how to fund the poorer countries in order to fight climat change)  we reccommend careful reading of this report and its attachments.

John Vidal3
John Vidal, Environment Editor – The Guardian

It is crunch time in the UN climate talks in Paris. We had the diplomats wrangling last week but now the politicians have taken up the baton and with only the next day and a half to go, countries are going to have to make their mind up what they want and what they are prepared to sacrifice.

On Wednesday afternoon the French hosts published a draft of the final negotiating text. It’s a bit shorter, there are many fewer brackets (points of disagreement that are still unresolved), but all the core sticking points remain unresolved. Last night the countries met in plenary to give their reactions, and today there will have to be movement if there is to be a deal.

Night during the day: Chinese pollution yesterday whil Paris talks

The good news, especially for poor countries, is that the new text now includes the figure of 1.5C as one of three options for a target rise in temperatures (this piece by my colleague Adam Vaughan explains what impacts are likely to be associated with each extra degree of rise). The other options of “2C” and “under 2” are still there but it does suggest that the pressure put on countries by development groups, churches, the media and others to be ambitious has paid off. Its another matter whether that is the final figure agreed.

Finance to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change will be a major issue and the text recognises the $100bn figure promised by 2020, but indicates that this is just a starting point. Although no ongoing figure is given.

Equally, the thorny issue of loss and damage (what some poor countries see as compensation for climate impacts) is in the text but with no new language around it. That probably means that no-one is prepared to compromise yet.

As I write this around 400 people from environment and development groups are inside the centre demonstrating that they want countries to be ambitious. The cry is “1.5 to stay alive.”

The next 24 hours will decide if there is to be a deal. There will have to be compromises made but by lunchtime we should have the bones of a final agreement. Then there will be long plenary sessions, possibly another text, and a deal possibly on Friday night or Saturday morning.

It could all go wrong but the mood here is positive. Whether they can now find a way through the labyrinth of alternatives and brackets is another matter.

John Vidal, environment editor, The Guardian

Thursday reading list:

March towards a green future like terminator, says Arnold Schwarzenegger

John Vidal2
John Vidal – Is the COP 21 lifting off?!?

COP 212: Paris talks at a stand still.

Well it does not seem that the people who have responsibilities for the world are aware of the huge responsibilitiy tothe human species they bear. At the moment it looks like they are just play around and enjoying the “Ville Lumiere. leonor Taylor, political correspondant of The Guardian Australia tells us everything about the first week of the COP 21 in Paris.


On Day 2 most of the 150 world leaders who had spoken to the summit on Monday had gone home, the motorcades were thinning out and the grinding process of actually negotiating the agreement began.

US president Barack Obama was still around though and at a press conferencehe confirmed the US was happy for one critical part of the deal to be legally binding – the need for each country’s reduction target to be periodically reviewed.

The US can’t agree to the whole deal being legally binding because it would be virtually impossible to get it through the Republican-controlled Congress, but the president’s remarks are important because the targets now on the table would at best hold warming to 2.7C – which would still unleash catastrophic climate impacts on low-lying islands and poor countries. Regular reviews hold open the hope that countries do more over time.

Obama also met leaders of some of the low lying island states, recognising the extreme threat they face from global warming. I wrote about that meeting.

The Australian environment minister Greg Hunt was challenged about why he had approved a coal mega-mine proposed by Indian company Adani in Australia with a production so huge the coal mined would create annual emissions greater than New York City. He came up with a whole new “rationale” – that it wasn’t Australia’s mine and Australia wasn’t a “neo-colonialist” power telling poor countries what to do. Yesterday he downplayed suggestions that the developing countries would be able to amend the purpose of the agreement to keep global warming under 1.5C (a harder goal than the current 2C).

Negotiators are saying the initial talks are “bumpy” with deep disagreement over thousands of points. Their job is to hone down the 50-plus page document before handing the running of the talks to the French presidency on the weekend for the final, critical week.


Here’s today’s reading list, with a few extra long reads for the weekend


Weekend reading

Lenore Taylor,

political editor, Guardian Australia

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