Director of Amicus Europae Foundation

I’d like to start with what M. King Hubbert said about the peak of oil. Because “peak oil” is conventional wisdom that we know about energy security. I remember the visit in Poland of a famous US energy expert, Daniel Yergin, who gave a lecture in a Polish university on energy security. And one of the students asked him a question.

Of course the first question was about the peak of oil. And he started laughing, saying that it was the most frequently asked question he gets. His answer then was that, in his perspective, the peak of oil will never be reached, because people, due to new technology changes will discover new and new sources of oil. In fact, this has happened. We have not only discovered new sources of oil, of shale oil, shale gas, we have also been able to substitute oil implementation.

I think nowadays it’s only air travel that is still depending on oil. I mean the majority of locations have substitute fuels. So, if suddenly oil will disappear, in the majority of cases there will besubstitute fuel. But of course the supply side doesn’t provide the full vision of energy security. And I think it’s also worth mentioning the other side, the demand side. I think in the last couple of years we are witnessing a revolution, and this revolution has to do with the fact that usually in the history of the mankind when there was economic growth, when there was development it wasaccompanied by the rise of energy consumption. But in over 50% of developed countries we are seeing a different tendency: that we have economic development, we have economic growth, we have the rising number of people in most cities and so on. But the energy consumption is not rising. First we got the status quo and now we see a lowering demand for energy. It means that we have decoupled the economic growth from the energy consumption.

So truly in the history of mankind this is called revolution. So the second issue, Joschka Fischer spoke about China. He said that China has a transformation of no examples in the world. Even in the heydays in the history of the United Kingdom during the industrial revolution of the 18-19th century, during the development of the United States after the second world war, these were huge changes in the world. Nevertheless, they cannot be compared with China. Today in Europe we have over35 cities of one million inhabitants and in the US it’s 36 cities. In China we have over now 221 cities of one million inhabitants. And this number is rising. And city as we know is a very big source of energy consumption. Also the industry of China is consuming a lot of energy, so China is producing circa 8 %of global economic output: they use over 15% energy, 40% of steel, over 50% of cement. It’s not only about shifting the global power to the East; it is also a global energy revolution. And because of the demand side, because Europe and the US are ableto a large extent to make their economies much more energy effective, this leaves space for the developing countries to rise in this “limited” environment.

And the last point about sustainability. And it is always said that China is always hiding behind the US when it comes to climate change. But my point is that this is also change. Because China is much more internally concerned about pollution than it is externally. So it’s also becoming a political problem. When the pollution and smog in large cities like Shanghai or Beijing, even for communist party this is becoming a real political challenge. This also means that China is implementing more and more new technologies, making also use of the effects of scale of the European technologies. This is only the beginning because China is really perfect at making mass production very cheap, so if they are able to produce this technology for solar energy, for wind energy very cheap, it also means huge change in such continents like Africa, like developing Asia. This means that they will be able to use very cheap Chinese technologiesto make a jump into the future, to skip a level of development, they won’t invest into the large coal plants, they will not invest in to nuclear energy, they will simply jump into the new era of renewable energy. And if Asia, India, Africa and will do this, it will make a revolutionary change in energy security.