We were returning to San Francisco from the World Wind Energy Association conference in Bonn this past July. As we boarded the plane we met Hans-Josef Fell.
Fell was the reason we had to get back to San Francisco. I planned to attend the launch of Fell’s book, Global Cooling Strategies for climate protection at Inter-Solar. It was an event I didn’t want to miss.
Hans-Josef Fell is one of the heroes of the renewable energy revolution. He along with the late Hermann Scheer were the fathers of Germany’s precedent-setting Renewable Energy Sources Act and the differentiated feed-in tariffs that make it work so effectively.
It was a measure of Fell’s stature that two heavy-hitters in the world of renewable energy were at the press conference: Stanford’s Mark Jacobson, and Fraunhofer’s Eicke Weber.
Jacobson wrote a forward to Fell’s book and led off the 10 July 2012 press conference describing the mix of renewables necessary to meet 100% of electricity supply: 50% wind, and 40% solar. This is a question at the forefront of renewable energy policy as Germany races ahead with its “energiewende” or energy revolution.
For both Fell and Jacobson it’s not a question of whether we can reach 100% renewable energy or not, but one of “when” it will be done.
Hans-Josef Fell was trained as a physicist and taught before entering politics as a member of the Green Party. He serves as the Party’s spokesperson on energy policy. He lives in southern Germany and the house he built there is powered 100% by renewable energy.
Global Cooling is a wind-ranging work, reflecting Fell’s broad perspective of the role that energy plays in conflicts between countries, wars in the Middle East, and the recent financial collapse. According to Fell, the so-called Euro crisis is actually an “oil” crisis. Greece, which imports all of its energy, would not be in crisis today if oil had not run up to $147 per barrel in 2008. Rather than austerity,
Ultimately, society must move to zero emissions and as Fells pointed out emission trading won’t get us there and certainly won’t get us there fast enough. Only Fell of the Greens and the late Hermann Scheer of the SPD in the German parliament who opposed the European emission trading system. The fundamental flaw, says Fell, is that an emission trading system permits emissions and “we don’t want emissions, any emissions”.
This exemplifies the attitude that distinguishes German green leaders like Fell and Scheer with the incrementalists found here in the states. The German leaders see the scale of the problem, the immediacy of the crisis, and they propose a commensurate response.
And it’s in the English-speaking world where this problem of weak and timid action, when there’s action at all-is most evident and why Fell targeted his book at English speakers. The German’s certainly don’t need another book like this-they’re not talking about it, they’re doing it-and on a scale that scares the fossil fuel industry to death.
Fell’s book is dense. There’s not a lot of fluffery and white space in this little 150-page book. There are a few useful and informative charts, but it’s mostly densely packed text that says what Fell feels needs to be said to the English-speaking world.
Now, if we could just get some of those English-speaking leaders, particularly in Washington and London, to read it or better yet to assign it to their staffs to digest we might see some action rather continued delay and obfuscation.
Global Cooling: Strategies for climate protection by Hans-Josef Fell, CRC Press, ISBN-10: 0415628539, 9.6 x 6.7 x 0.5 inches, June 2012, $24.95