On October 2019, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised Jeremy Rifkin's Keynote Lecture "The global green new deal. Why the fossil fuel civilisation will collapse around 2028 and what is the bold economic plan to save life on earth" to be given by Jeremin Rifkin on the occasion of the publication of his latest book of the same title.
Jeremy Rifkin is a key modern-day communicator who analyses the economic, environmental, social and cultural impact of new technologies on the global economy. He is a professor at the Wharton School. He is the creator of the theory of the Third Industrial Revolution, based on Information Technologies. Founder and President of the Foundation for the Study of Economic Trends, he holds a degree in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in International Affairs from the Fletchen School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has served as an advisor to several governments during their presidencies of the European Union: France, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia, among others. He also regularly advises the European Parliament on environmental, technology and energy security issues. He writes opinion columns for major newspapers in several countries: Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, El Mundo, Clarín, etc. He has participated in many forums and conferences in more than 200 universities in 30 countries over the last 30 years.
On 24 October 2019, Jeremy Rifkin, economist, sociologist and advisor to the EU and China, gave a lecture at the Rafael del Pino Foundation entitled "The global 'Green new deal'". According to Rifkin, climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels is leading all life on Earth to the sixth extinction, due to the increase in temperature. To avoid this cataclysm, greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels, and this would have to be achieved by 2030 at the latest. Society is mobilising to avert this cataclysm and the 'green new deal' is becoming the centrepiece of political discourse. Businesses are also reacting. Key sectors such as information and communication technologies, energy, transport and logistics, and real estate are increasingly committed to clean energy, environmentally friendly practices, the circular economy and climate resilience. New technological developments are facilitating this paradigm shift. Thanks to them, the costs of solar and wind energy have fallen dramatically and are now lower than those of conventional energy. As a result, 2028 could see the collapse of the carbon-based civilisation as an energy source. National economies will therefore have to adapt quickly to this new scenario if they are to survive and continue to prosper. To achieve this, policymakers need to adopt a new economic strategy that is feasible for large cities, small towns and rural communities alike. Throughout history, economic paradigm shifts have been brought about by a combination of a communication system, a new energy source and a new transport system. In the first industrial revolution, the steam engine and telegraph, coal in abundance, and the railways all played a role. In the second industrial revolution the protagonists were electricity, the telephone, radio and television, oil and internal combustion vehicles. In the third industrial revolution, on the cusp of which we now stand, broadband, the internet of renewable energy and the internet of mobility and logistics, with electric vehicles, interact. All of these are supported by the internet of things, which is integrated into carbon-neutral residential, commercial and industrial buildings that can manage and supply energy. Buildings are therefore being transformed into smart nodes and smart grids to generate, manage and store energy. This will affect all sectors and lead to the emergence of new business models and new employment opportunities. For the system to work, a smart energy grid will need to be built across a country's entire territory, as the electricity grid is moving from a centralised to a distributed system, based on millions of solar and wind power generation centres. Governments will have to take primary responsibility for financing this process over the ten to twenty years it will take to develop such a smart grid. Such a system, involving millions of actors, will be more diverse and complex, making it more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and weather events. It is therefore necessary to increase its resilience, for example through the installation of microgrids, to enable the economy and society to continue to function. To finance the development of such a smart energy grid, the government will need to rely on a green banking system capable of providing the necessary funds. One way of doing this could be the issuance of green bonds to invest in the development of green infrastructure. Investors could largely be public and private pension funds, but could also be other types of institutional investors. Pension funds are in fact starting to move out of fossil fuel sectors and into green investments. Another part of the funding could come from public budgets. This energy paradigm shift is inevitable. Solar and wind energy are the cheapest in the world and their fixed costs will continue to fall exponentially for a long time to come. Moreover, the marginal cost of generating them is practically zero, which is not the case with other energy sources such as coal, oil, gas or uranium.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for the comments, opinions or statements made by the people who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their sole responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio González, are the result of the debates held at the meeting held for this purpose at the Foundation and are the responsibility of the authors.
The Rafael del Pino Foundation is not responsible for any comments, opinions or statements made by third parties. In this respect, the FRP is not obliged to monitor the views expressed by such third parties who participate in its activities and which are expressed as a result of their inalienable right to freedom of expression and under their own responsibility. The contents included in the summary of this conference, written for the Rafael del Pino Foundation by Professor Emilio J. González, are the result of the discussions that took place during the conference organised for this purpose at the Foundation and are the sole responsibility of its authors.