Citizen Action Monitor

“Hero for the Green Century”, Hermann Scheer, dies at age 66

No 77 Posted by fw, October 17, 2010

Hermann Scheer, 1944-2010

Hermann Scheer, a prominent member of parliament and influential leader in Germany’s renewable energy industry, died on October 15, 2010 at the age of 66. Scheer was best known for his campaign to make Germany a global leader in renewable energy. He was the main author of Germany’s revolutionary Renewable Energy Act, which established an incentive scheme for utilities and investors to buy into solar and wind energy systems. Thanks to the Act, Germany now gets up to 16 per cent of its energy from renewable and green sources. Tripling its renewable energy capacity in just 15 years, Scheer has been largely credited with making Germany the energy industry leader it is today. Since the law passed in Germany in 2000, more than 50 other nations in the world have followed suit with similar legislation. The Act also saw the creation of over 350,000 jobs. In 2002, Scheer was named as a ‘hero for the green century’ in Time magazine along with four other influential leaders in combating global climate change. Prior to that, he had received the Right Livelihood Award (the Alternative Noble Prize) in 1999 for his efforts in the renewables sector. He will be sorely missed.

On October 15, just before Democracy Now went on air, host Amy Goodman learned of Sheer’s death. The regularly scheduled broadcast was preempted to show Goodman’s September 2010 interview with Scheer. To view the interview and to obtain a copy of the transcript of the exchange, click on this link: Hermann Scheer (1944-2010): German Lawmaker, Leading Advocate for Solar Energy and “Hero for the Green Century” in One of His Final Interviews

Here is a small sample of the candid comments Scheer shared during the interview —

Our dependence on fossil energy sources is a tragedy

“The tragedy of our present civilization is that it became dependent on marginal energy sources. The marginal energy sources are fossil sources, fossil resources and nuclear, based on the raw material uranium. The gigantic energy potential is the renewable energy potential always all coming from the sun, including its derivates, like wind and the photosynthetic-produced—photosynthetically produced materials, organic materials, plants, hydro-base. And the sun offers to our globe, in eight minutes, as much energy as the annual consumption of fossil and atomic energy.”

It would be a big mistake to let Big Oil and Coal organize the transition to clean energy because their interest is primarily to delay the change.

“The big mistake in the energy debate is that most people think, because they believe that there is a monopoly and the expertise for all energy activities in the hand of the existing energy players. Many people, including governments, including many scientists, who get their orders for studies from them, they believe and think that the present energy suppliers, the present energy trusts, the companies, they should organize the transformation. And this is a big mistake—a big mistake—because this part of the society is the only one who has an interest to postpone it. The only one. All others, all the others, have an interest to speed it up. But as long government think that it should be left to the energy companies, we will lose the race against time.”

Amy asks: “Why did you have to take on the corporations and the government [to pass the Law for the Priority of Renewable Energies]?”

“The [German] government behaved like all the governments behave. They feel themselves, and they act as partners and assistants, of the conventional power structure. This has many reasons. Some believe—some politicians believe that there would be no alternative. They believe the arguments. Others are very closely linked, personally linked, with the power companies and in different ways of corruption. The most comfortable way to corrupt a politician is the method, illegal method, to pay them later, after office—after office, after leaving government, then hiring him for the board. And this is very popular here, a very usable way of, let’s say, legalized corruption. And the thinking of all governments that they are dependent from the work of the energy supplier, because no economy can work without energy. And the monopoly of the conventional power, even in the thinking that there would be no alternative, this monopoly gave them so much influence, so much influence, that many governments are puppets, governors are puppets in the hand of these power companies.”

What turned things around? The government could no longer ignore the demands of the German people.

“Yes, it turned around. Nobody speaks anymore against renewable energies. Some behave in the way as—to do as if they would do it, but officially they speak all for that. It is the greenwashing strategy for many. But people want to have this. Against all the disinformation campaigns, 90 percent of the people here, based on the visible—on the visible results and inspired by the and encouraged by the visible results—90 percent want to have a general change to renewables. Seventy-five percent want to have this in their district, not far away in their district. Less than ten percent accept new coal power stations. Less than 10 percent would accept new nuclear power stations. And only 30 percent will tolerate a longer working time for the existing power station.”

What was needed to get around bureaucratic barriers was a “liberalization of renewable energy introduction”

“The main work, political work, for the support and help for the energy revolution to renewable energy is to open the space to create investment autonomy for renewables to overcome so many direct and indirect administrative, bureaucratic barriers, which hinder the people to take renewables, which hinder that and therefore don’t giving permission for windmills in the counties or don’t—or don’t give permissions for solar roofs and so forth. And so, there are so many, so many hidden—hidden rules favoring conventional energies and blocking renewable energies in a decentralized way. So many. And to overcome this requires political decisions. Yeah. What we need is a liberalization of renewable energy introduction.”

You can only motivate people with a vision that is not dependent on decisions coming from global summits.

“We created the market. With the Renewable Energy Act, we created energy investment, investment autonomy for renewable energies. That means more and more demands for solar technologies and wind power technologies were there. And this enabled the industrial bases for that, growing industrial companies for the producing, for the protection of these technologies. Therefore, one element pushed the other. One element pushed the other and widened it up. And a new move started, ecologically, economically, a new democratic move, and a new enthusiasm, because the perspective of going to 100 percent renewable energies is motivating many people, because as long people think—as long people think nobody can overcome this power structure, nobody can do it. They lose their hope. And you can only motivate people in the society with a perspective which is handleable and which is not dependent on the question if there are coming new decisions at the global level, at the summit, at the G8 summit, G20 summit, or at the world climate conference.”

Change will only come when communities/societies mobilize to organize their own energy change.

“The reasons for shifting to renewable energies are far more than, alone, the climate, the climate crisis. The climate crisis would be a reason enough, but what have they created? Concepts, emission trading, that each investment, far away, could be involved into the calculation. It is totally anonymous. Totally anonymous. That’s what—this is not the way. This is purely technocracy. It is exactly the contrary what we need—the mobilization of society to organize their energy change, their energy shift, not waiting what others are doing. Only then, movement comes.”



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This entry was posted on October 17, 2010 by in climate change, counterpower of one, political action and tagged , , .
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