In partnership with the Department for Energy and Environment of the City of Basel (Switzerland), the Club of Rome organised a two-day-conference on the future of energy in Basel.
The Future of Energy – Switzerland as a Role-Model?
In collaboration with the Department of Environment and Energy of the city of Basel, the Club of Rome invited over 30 experts from around the world to a conference in Basel. At the conference, which took place Monday (17 October) and Tuesday (18 October), the question of the future of energy in view of the major global developments and challenges were analysed – this gave a deeper insight into one of the most crucial issues for the immediate future of Switzerland.
“The excess energy as well as easy access to non-renewable resources has given humankind unprecedented wealth and technological progress”, said Ian Johnson, Secretary General of the Club of Rome, referring to the background of the meeting of experts: “However, we will replace our outgoing energy resources in the near future.”
This would require, for example, even before the background of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the much-discussed nuclear phase-out or the issue of climate change, new energy strategies, free from polarisation: “Many aspects of current projects in energy remain unspoken. Uncomfortable truths are barely taken into consideration and accepted myths are not questioned”, continued Mr. Johnson.
There were controversial topics on the agenda. How does a nuclear phase-out compare with the need to meet ambitious climate targets? How can our societies make the transition to an emissions-neutral energy production and how much will this really cost? What potential does increased energy efficiency offer, the scope of freedom of cities and the influence on the design of policy framework?
Last but not least, a special focus was placed on Switzerland, where the issue of energy policy currently dominates the political debate: “Switzerland has certainly been pioneers in this area in the past”, said Ian Johnson, “now it remains to be seen whether the right investments in research and the development of new technologies will follow. The Switzerland-wide breakthrough in the era of sustainable energy, however, remains a vision for the time. It has finally succeeded and made it on to the politics agenda”.
The conference was intended to analyse issues related to the future of energy through the prism of the most important global trends and challenges of the 21st century in a systemic, interdisciplinary way. Various issues on the interface between energy and major global challenges: economic growth, population and climate served as a background for more focused discussion of global energy trends, on the role of cities and the issues related to global equity. The question of whether the current economic thinking and practices allow to make appropriate decisions urgently needed to enable transition to renewable energy and cut emissions were raised, together with proposals of additional or improved instruments and tools to ameliorate the decision-making process.
With regards to the Club of Rome programme on New Economics, Values and Institutions, the additional goal of the meeting was to put energy in this croader context. When properly accounted for, depletion of non-renewable resources and pollution of the environment, e.g. through burning fossil fuel, may wholly negate the beneficial effects of economic activities. The best use and preservation of resources is the prerogative of our time and the value of resources should become the basic reference point for the wealth and welfare of nations.
If the transition to renewable energy aiming to substitute fossil and nuclear fuel gets societal support, if energy production is to become ecologically sound and emission-neutral, if access to energy for billions of people in developing countries is to be guaranteed, if energy efficiency and sufficiency is to be entrenched in life style and production, these will require profound changes in our economic patterns, approaches and decision-making processes.
To view the final agenda, the list of participants and to find out more about the nature and the background of the conference, please download the following document:
Presentations available for download:
(in German): “Grenzen der Energie”
(information only available in German)