Reclaiming power: energy models that serve people and the planet
Today at the C17 space Friends of the Earth hosted the energy sessions. A range of speakers presented the current energy system's failings and discussed what the alternatives could look like, and what dangers lie ahead.
The afternoon began with Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, leading a discussion of how our fossil-fuel based system fails people and the planet.
Fossil fuels destroy local environments and communities, drive dangerous climate change and fail to provide sufficient energy to 40 per cent of the world's population.
There are solutions though. In the session 'An energy sector we want to see', Pascoe Sabido from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland looked at small scale renewable energy, often managed by communities, as a way of reclaiming power.
Pascoe talked about the need for a global feed in tariff (GFIT) that would provide upfront financing from public sources for universal access to renewable electric power and non-electric energy services such as solar water heaters and biogas. The collection and dispersal of funds would take into account the climate debt owed by the north to the south and by the rich to the poor.
The sources of funding for such a mechanism could include the diversion of fossil fuel subsidies, diverting military spending, imposing a levy on aviation and maritime fuels or imposing a financial transaction tax on speculative international money flows.
On the cost of renewables Pascoe believes that economies of scale would also play a part in driving down prices.
"As more people around the world invest in solar and other renewables the price would come down for everyone, in both the north and the south.
"Once the cost of renewables fall below the cost of fossil fuels, they will be the default energy choice" he said.
Friends of the Earth believes that such a radical transformation of the energy system will be handing back power to the people. Not just in the literal sense but it will also mean a shift in power relationships.
"Energy companies would be the consumers, buying surplus energy from the people. This transformative effect could also change communities, promoting true democracy and self organisation" Pascoe concluded.
Further informationRead Friends of the Earth's report 'Reclaiming power'