Birmingham Can Lead the Green Revolution; Next Week Delegates Will Gather at Aston Uuniversity for a Conference on the Green Industrial Revolution. Here Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, Explains the Challenges Ahead for a Low Carbon Future
Byline: Connie Hedegaard
ur planet's climate is changing.
OWe know that this caused by the increasing level of carbon emissions, a process that began when the course of human development took a gigantic leap forward in the industrial revolution that began here in Birmingham 200 years ago.
Today, our challenge is to begin a new industrial revolution, to lower carbon emissions sharply: by 20-30 per cent in the coming decade and by 90-95 per cent by 2050.
There is no doubt that this will have a major impact on us all.
A serious economic restructuring will be needed, both of industry and of our lifestyles as consumers. The process will be challenging.
But the longer we postpone the transition the harder it will be - and it will also bring many benefits.
First, the beauty of renewable wind, solar, or tidal technologies, in contrast to fossil fuel based technologies, is that there is no fuel cost.
Over time, the lower running costs will compensate for the higher up-front costs. We all know that the price of oil and gas is rising - and will continue to do so as global demand increases significantly.
The higher fossil fuel costs are the short-t er the payback time on renewable technologies will be.
Second, since many fossil fuels are imported from third-world countries, the money generally leaves the EU.
But this is not simply a question of the trade balance. It is also true that the countries that hold the largest proven reserves of oil and gas are often undemocratic and sometimes unstable - and it goes without saying that reducing our dependency on these states for our energy supplies is in our long-term inter-r ests.
Third, all businesses know that to prosper, they must produce what people want. In a world of increasing energy demand, and constrained supplies, many will want to deploy renewable and energy efficient technologies.
The higher energy prices go, the more there will a competitive advantage fo those whose energy costs are lowest Europe today still has a leading edge in the renewable energy field: EU compa nies are known worldwide for their in novation and technical excellence. …