AMSTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS) – At today’s closing of the International Energy Forum, activists locked a row of bicycles to the gates of the Okura Hotel conference venue to illustrate the need for a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy saving measures.
Officials attending the forum, including OPEC and OECD energy ministers, could not immediately leave the venue as the row of bicycles blocked the hotel gates. Activists unfurled a banner that read “Stop SpOILing, Start Saving”.
More than 60 energy ministers and World Bank officials discussed future investment in oil and gas at the energy meeting, which was opened by Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Laurens Jan Brinkhorst.
“Oil should not be at the core of a debate on future energy investment”, said Peer de Rijk of World Information Services on Energy. “Our bicycles symbolize renewable energy solutions that are clean, safe and available,” he added.
The conference took place on the eve of a major June 1-4 intergovernmental Conference on Renewable Energy in Germany.
The World Bank recently released a review that recommends that the Bank stop financing oil corporations and move towards financing renewable energy. This document, the Extractive Industries Review, maintains that oil investment harms the poor because of its association with climate change, human rights abuses, conflict and corruption. The Bank is divided over the report and may soon announce it will ignore its findings.
“The World Bank’s presence at this week’s energy conference is a true sign of bad faith” said Janneke Bruil of Friends of the Earth International.
“For decades, the World Bank has supported rich transnational oil corporations and corrupt government elites with our tax money. Even now that the Bank’s own review tells it to get out of the sector as soon as possible, it is still cutting deals with the world’s oil barons,” she continued.
At a parallel Business Forum, the ministers get a chance to discuss “certain key elements” with oil industry representatives, including an increase in oil production. “The bias of the conference is evident”, continued Mr De Rijk. “Under discussion here are industry needs rather than people’s needs or care for future generations”.
The activists demand support for renewable energy that is accessible, decentralized, based on local technology and that excludes nuclear energy and large hydro-electric dams. Furthermore, they call for energy efficiency and energy saving. At the June Conference in Bonn, they will confront governments with these demands again.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT IN AMSTERDAM:
Janneke Bruil, Friends of the Earth International: +31 6 52 118 998
Peer de Rijk, World Information Services on Energy: +31 6 20 000 626
For more information on energy: www.wiseinternational.org