Is a “green revolution” inevitable?
That’s what Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard (left) predicts, saying that a huge shift to renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, from fossil fuels will survive flagging economic growth.
She has to puzzle over the outlook since she is set to be host of a U.N. meeting in late 2009 in Copenhagen at which the world is meant to agree a new climate deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
Many nations have been reluctant so far to spell out what they are willing to do to slow global warming. It’s a bit of the “you first”, “no, you first” trap.
“The green revolution is going to come anyway,” she told me for a story about how far a gloomier economic outlook may dampen action to fight climate change, and how far high oil prices will help.
Is she right? (Many Danes have bet on the revolution — Vestas is the world’s number one wind turbine maker).
In the 1970s the oil crisis spurred huge interest in renewable energies — U.S. President Jimmy Carter even had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. His successor, Ronald Reagan, took them down, and that ‘revolution’ ran out of steam as oil prices fell (below $10 a barrel in 1986).
Since then, of course, almost all climate scientists have concluded that fossil fuels cause global warming. So a shift to renewables is not just about current high oil prices ($111 a barrel), or worries about smog pollution.
Is the revolution coming?