I went to the Vienna Energy Forum yesterday, a REEEP endorsed UNIDO event bringing together high-ranking stakeholders from politics, business and academia to discuss a common understanding of energy access for the poor. The event also coincided with the launching of the Global Energy Assessment.
The location was well chosen in the imperial Hofburg palace, and widespread press-coverage was guaranteed with Arnold Schwarzenegger holding an opening speech. To be honest, I was rather biased about his appearance, but pleasantly surprised when he entered the stage. Of course, he knows how to work a crowd, but actually he comes across sincere and has some interesting points. He spoke stirring and freely without a “cheat slip”.
The shift to a low-carbon economy is a top priority, but he described how sometimes it was still difficult to bring across the danger and scope of climate change to the average citizen. For example he explained that an American from Texas is not very concerned about rising sea-levels and melting icecaps. This is why is called the approach based on climate change and mitigation only a “one-legged stool” that was not stable. His vision of a four legged stool stood on
3) Energy security and then
4) Climate change.
He talked of his experience as the governor of California and how people agreed on green reforms when they realized that this could bring them new and sustainable jobs, improve the health of their families and make America less vulnerable to global oil prices and crisis. Schwarzenegger went on to explain that renewable energy was the “best product” to sell, if only we took more notice of what people actually cared for and showed them benefits in their daily lives. I could even add a fifth leg on that stool:
5) Cheaper bills for energy and electricity in a modern low-energy building, with efficient appliances and locally produced energy from solar (thermal) collectors.
Arnie didn’t let people down in regard to his movie star status: he dropped all his famous lines; from “I’ll be back Austria” to “Hasta la vista oil companies”. At the end of his talk he promised to continue using his stardom to promote renewables across the world. While the whole day was exiting and many prominent speakers where present, Schwarzenegger was the definite highlight, and he didn’t disappoint.