On 19 September 2016 Josep Puig, Vice-President of EUROSOLAR and President of EUROSOLAR Spain, held a vivid speech at the Comission of Environment and Sustainability of the catalan Parliament in order to contribute to law negotiations regarding climate change.The speech is now available in written form and can be read below.
I want to express my gratitude for inviting me, on behalf of EUROSOLAR – the European association for renewable energies, in the committee dealing with the bill on climate change.
I congratulate the legislative initiative being carried out, but at the same time I wish to express to you that this law comes very late. And not only that, but its content does not directly address the problem we have in modern societies. This problem can be summarized in a single word of four letters: FIRE!
In the climate debate, which began with the 1st Climate Conference in 1979, nobody is mentioning the fire. Since then, every one is speaking with words and phrases such as “fossil fuels”, “carbon”, “carbon dioxide”, “higher temperatures”, “floods and droughts”, “increase sea level”, “disappearance of glaciers”, “melting of polar ice”, etc.
All these phenomena, that today we already are noticing, are signs that something is wrong in our world, in our society.
Being a symptom, it not means to be the cause of the problem. The symptoms are the result of human activity around the fire. Said loud and clear: fire is the cause of climate change.
Fire is an ancestral form of energy production that humanity learned from nature to meet their basic needs. Neanderthals were our predecessors who learned to master the fire. We, Homo sapiens, have evolved with fire.
But with the rise of industrialism, human societies demystified the fire, converting it to combustible materials, mainly wood, which was a common good, but since then transformed into a commodity. The depletion of biomass forced extraction of combustible materials from underground. The burning of these materials through various technological gadgets, can provide the societies with the services that the released energy makes possible: light, heat, strength, mobility, and even allows us to have a special way of energy, electricity.
Today, the 21st century’s society obtains most of the energy burning fossil fuels and fission nuclear materials extracted from the subsoil. By burning and fission, in a very inefficient way, the society get the energy it needs, much of which is wasted without any use. The result is in front of us: the global temperatures are increasing. . . we break records day after day.
What we now call “progress” was associated with fire. We instilled that for progressing it was necessary to increase our ability to make fire. The clearest example of this is the nuclear “fire”. It is used in nuclear fission reactions in the reactor core (with temperatures of hundreds of degrees and very high pressures, producing wastes and emissions that poison the biosphere with radioactivity) to boil water!, when to boil water it only needs temperatures of 100 degrees, which we can easily get from the sun.
Our ancestral link with the fire it makes, even today, to consider fire as a friendly and welcoming phenomenon. But fire is an extremely violent phenomenon, since it produces heat at temperatures high enough to endanger all living beings. The fire converts materials into wastes, often hazardous.
Because humanity has always used fire, human societies have never assessed quantitatively, accurately, its harmful consequences. They are considered as inevitable, thinking that there are no alternatives to energy production without using fire.
Today we begin to realize that progress based on fire can lead us to an ecological and social regression, because the consequences of the industrialist addiction to burning fossil fuels can lead to the destabilization of the climate balance of the planet, balance that allowed the emergence of living beings, including humans.
Anyone who wants to take a legislative action to deal with climate destabilization should address the use of fire for energy production. This means a radical change in the way we get energy and how we use it.
This energy change, what I mean, only could be made reality with a techno-energy revolution. This means a technological revolution that will lead to the use of the energy contained in the biospheric and lithospheric flows. Getting energy without using fire. Energy free from fire.
The European association I represent, does not expect much from the so-called global climate ‘negotiations’. Almost 25 years have been spent since the United Nation agreed to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and emissions of greenhouse gases have continued to grow. And temperatures do too.
The model to follow is clearly visible in the examples of successful technological revolutions that have occurred in modern economic history: none of them has emerged from any international agreement! Look microcomputers, mobile telephones, etc. . .
The successful political or business slogans of all these technological revolutions were “to be faster than the other to achieve a competitive advantage for its own domestic economy or the company itself.”
In Catalonia, specifically in the city of Barcelona, in 1981 it was created and engineers’ coop to develop wind technology, which became one of the 10 companies most technologically advanced in the world in this field. This was recognized by the European Wind Enegy Association – EWEA giving the Paul LaCour Award 2001 to its founders (“awarding the developer’s outstanding achievements in the field of wind energy”).
Of course, at that time the president of Catalonia stated (it was published as news to in the “El Noticiero Universal”): “to say that the problem of energy can be solved with solar and wind energy have no sense …. the basements of the energy are the thermal and nuclear power plants”. And he was not ashamed of saying this, while traveling in California, when that country was experiencing the first wind eclossion under the leadership of the young, at that time, governor Jerry Brown. Today Edward G. Brown is again governor and he has undertaken an ambitious program to reduce GHG emissions (40% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990, increasing to 50% the contribution of renewables in the electricity mix, reducing by 50% the automotive industry based on oil and doubling energy efficiency in existing buildings). And not only that, but California, in partnership with the German state of Baden-Württemberg, initiated the call Under2MOU, which now covers 135 signatories from 32 countries on six continents. The Catalonia’s Minister of Planning and Sustainability signed this agreement on May 19th., 2015.
The governments of Catalonia and their parliaments have never laid the groundwork necessary to launch the necessary techno-energy revolution already underway in several countries, although we had the opportunity to be in this league. The politics did not make it possible to continue.
In contrast, conventional energy economy emerged thanks to political protectionism, and there are those who, wanting to perpetuate this situation, want to prolong his life when conventional energy economy is destined to disappear as we have known to date.
In this way one can understand the subjugation of politics to the interests of oligopolistic energy companies, heirs of former regional monopolies.
In this way you can understand the administrative barriers that this Parliament has erected for the technologies to capture, transform and use of the energy contained in the biospheric and lithospheric flows. Barriers that have made our country not included among the countries leaders in this techno-energy revolution. Do you think that for erecting one single wind turbine, the procedure that it has been applied was a Decree strictly focused on wind farms (more that one single wind turbine)? and that the procedure is extended over 4 years?
To open the door to this techno-energy revolution it is necessary to remove all administrative obstacles prevailing, as the result of bad political decisions of the past.
And the law of climate change, now being discussed in this Parliament, is very short in this regard. The law should include a roadmap for energy transition towards a 100% renewable energy supply, so that local wealth (energy from sun, wind, water, organic matter, the heat from the earth, etc.) can benefit local communities, preventing that there is no chance of grabbing these wealth by oligopolistic companies, which while enriching them, they are impoverishing most of the population.
The rapid change towards 100% renewable energy supply will only grow from the multiplication of actors with different motivations but which are not subject to the logic of the system of conventional energy regime. The policy priority must be to open the necessary action spaces and their enlargement without stop. So there are two essential systemic guidelines:
- to translate the benefits to society and the national economy, inherent to renewable energies, in individual economic incentives (such as the ‘Feed-in-tariff – FIT’ laws have proven). At the same time, a system of taxation on emissions may be the approach that covers the entire energy system.
- to impose by law, the general preference for renewable energy both in what refers to the planning and construction of energy systems, so that being eliminated all existing bureaucratic obstacles.
Everything else will come, almost by itself, from society with its economic forces, especially at the municipal level through technology and industrial development.
To do this, we do not need a “global political energy concept”, such as Energy Plans agreed with energy oligopolies with intermediate solutions for nuclear and coal power plants. What is needed are political decisions that allow the freedom of action of the thousands of stakeholders that enable the necessary investments to promote the energy change.
It is at the political level where decisions are made the min mission to accelerate the energy change that is being implemented by society.
As Hermann Scheer, our founder and undisputed political leader of the techno-energy revolution, wrote in his latest work “The Energethic Imperative means total acceleration.”
Today we can free ourselves from the dependence on fire and we can have an energy system fire free because we have technologies that allow us to glimpse towards a 100% renewable energy system and serving people. A country like Denmark, similar in size as Catalonia, is already on that way, since long time ago.
You have the key to open this door. And the key is to make POLITICS in capital letters. Politics that allows citizens and communities to make a social appropriation of technologies that make possible for our society to have energy without having to get it from fire.
We hope that this Parliament will be at the height of the times in which we live.
Pep Puig i Boix
Vice-president of EUROSOLAR – The European Association for Renewable Energy
President of the Spanish section