Summary: Working Group on Environment, Trade and Sustainable Development
Energy and waste management
The third meeting of this working group was more than ever characterized by warmth and solidarity among the participants, boding well for its aims to improve cooperation, integration, exchange and acceptance between civil society and indigenous people in developing and developed countries, in the international arena. The focus on children permitted a free and often idealistic discussion with an eye on the long-term future.
Each of the two speakers showed the results of various research papers as support for the promotion of a change from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based one.
Mr. Benoit Lambelet from World Watch talked about the leaps we have made in recent years in energy technology, such as the move from wind energy in the 1980s to exploring new routes that were "unfathomable" only a few years ago. He said that there has been a 20% increase in the last 10 years (exponential growth) in all renewable energy sources.
Commonplace technology like the automobile has developed speedily over a 30-year span, and Mr. Lambelet feels sure that hydrogen technology could also be developed quickly. He reported that hydrogen is twice as efficient as gasoline.
Mr. Lambelet also mentioned the negative aspects of using hydrogen. For one, the fuel tanks are more expensive than those used for oil. Also, there is an "image problem" in that people often associate hydrogen with a hydrogen bomb. Next, other forms of renewable energy, such as hydroelectricity, are more developed. Finally, because renewable energy is decentralized, it has a smaller economic base, and therefore it is more difficult to find investors to propel its research and eventual common use.
Mr. Lambelet pointed out that the use of hydrogen "won't prevent traffic jams", but is 100% pollution-free, allowing people to walk through the streets of a city while enjoying clean air.
Mr. Joseph Puig from Greenmap talked about programs in effect in Barcelona, particularly the use of solar panels for energy around the city. There is even a "solar law" which requires all new buildings in Barcelona to be built to support the use or production of solar energy. He said that in the Mediterranean, the sun can play an important role in our lives. Mr. Puig said finding alternative ways to use energy is one path toward the goal of finding solutions to the world's pressing problems.
He also talked about the economics of renewable energy, pointing out that it is impossible to put renewable energies in common use unless they become competitive and that the technologies need investors. Local governments, he said, must encourage markets and create conditions for this competition.
In the discussion that followed, participants talked about the uses of hydrogen -that it can be used for anything that requires electricity and can assist in eliminating the pollution that comes from the agriculture industry.
One participant made the comment that "We have to be careful not to use too much technology -that changing technology won't necessarily guarantee less pollution". The speakers responded that the change to renewables also includes a change in peoples' lifestyles and habits, and that we do need high technology to solve the problems we face.
Finally, they gave some important positive aspects of using renewable energies: there will be social and political consequences when and if oil runs out or cannot be acquired, such as in wartime. There is an important social danger.
The two speakers emphasized the need to pursue new renewable and pollution-free sources of energy, such as solar energy and hydrogen fuel. They observed that governments need to provide greater financial and policy support to the development of new energy technologies to hasten their development and make them more competitive in the marketplace. They also noted that renewable energy sources are more "democratic" because they can often be produced locally, giving people knowledge of and control over their energy production.
Presenters' Documents Available
16.20_puig_joseph1.ppt (85 K)
16.20_puig_joseph2.ppt (85 K)
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