Six key reforms for a democratic governance of Euroland - Executive summary Paris 07/2011

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Euroland Democratisation Forum
Written by MarianneRC   
Thursday, 18 August 2011

Six key reforms for a democratic governance of Euroland - Executive summary

5. After Fukushima and with the Euro - which new paradigm for the Euroland energy policy?

Chaired by Maria Zei, Engineer Researcher in risks analysis, The friends of Beppe Grillo
- Christel Hahn, coordinator Anticipolis forum
- Marco Morosini, Analyst, reviewer and author of systems of indicators of sustainable development

The Fukushima disaster is triggering a definitive change in the way public opinions will influence future policies on nuclear energy. Everywhere new concerns are emerging together with a will to have a stronger democratic control on this energy source, its processes, its timeytable and its future (including its phasing out). Meanwhile it appears more and more obvious that, within Europe, national policies are inadapted because the consequences of major nuclear accidents will immediately be trans-European, on our small continent. Besides, with the Euro becoming increasingly a currency which will be used for energy transactions on a large scale, Euroland will have the possibilities to influence much more directly the questions of energy costs (including to protect itself from the erratic Dollar evolutions). An occassion to rethink on new tracks : energy efficiencies, new timescale approaches to the territory and ressources and new forms of energy. Therefore both Fukushima's democratic fallout and the Euro as a 'new energy currency' are offering new options for Eurolanders contemplating a future Euroland energy policy.

The issue of energy is a key issue at the same level as water, air, everything that allows us to live. Indeed, energy can be considered as a common good of humanity. Energy is one that allows us to move, eat, create, at last live. And so it is important to ask many questions about energy, its production and use.

Fukushima is not the first nuclear accident, even if we can consider that they have nothing in common, they are mainly the result of human errors. There has been in the late '70s, a first accident of this type at Three Miles Island (such a sequence of events leading to fusion of the heart) which indeed has been provided by probabilistic of such a kind of accident (Rasmussen report of 1974), but with a relatively low probability. This did not prevent the accident to happen, but brought a lot of thoughts and procedures in place in the following years. At this moment the probabilistic safety studies have begun to be developed. The three major accidents (TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima) arrived in the space of 30-40 years, ie much earlier than probabilistic could have predicted, showing that these are complex systems that require studies in depth to accommodate all potential sequences that can occur.
With the nuclear we enter a very dangerous field and should be treated with great care and effort in technology. Failure of nuclear is its original design: designed to create a very powerful weapon, ie designed to remove life and not to develop it. Difficult to come back on the primary defect of such a fate.

To understand the reality it is necessary to ask questions because without understanding very well the situation in which we live it is impossible even to consider the different approaches on energy.
So to the context: we live in an economic system that has become "the system" which with the rise of globalization has expanded to the whole earth.This system has three major basic flaws, in Italian we call them the three I: Iniquo, Instabile, Inquinante (ie: iniquitous, Unstable, pollutant). These are real flaws that should be "corrected" because they will affect all areas and in particular with regard to the energy, the consequences fall on poor people: access, quality, management , risk of accidents, waste disposal, all this for some at the expense of all others. No vision in the medium and long term, but a very short vision by very interested ones preventing any research for not too "interesting" developments in terms of profitability.

It mobilizes a lot of money only in some area of research and not others. Now with 2000 years of history with all the technology we have, we must think how to face the current crisis and project in a medium and long term future taking into account the availability of resources and maintenance of quality the environment. There is no question to react like Germany has done and stop overnight any nuclear power generation, because there are other issues yet as important to treat: a nuclear power plant does not stop like this, there is the problem of waste, reprocessing, clean-up, and then learn how to set up energy technologies to produce future energy.

Are we able to save energy? What investments can be done, in what areas of research try to find better? This and other questions the speakers of the panel will respond.

Marco Morosini
presented the 2000 watt society. He explained that through Erasmus and Hermann Scheer, a researcher in solar energy, it was possible for him to work as an Italian, in research centers in Europe and particularly in Germany.
Energy is not a matter of production, but also about economic, environmental, ecological and social issue. An important reflection: the more you improve the energy performance and the more we consume, since the beginning of the development of our industrial society we see the continuous improvement of energy performance and consumption has been increasing. We must therefore also consider the concept of "sober" energy.

Christel Hahn speaks of the energy market which is dominated by large companies (oil, gas and nuclear) since World War II through the hegemony of the dollar, United States instrument of domination.
Addresses the question of a future world, a multipolar world in relation to the current processes from top to bottom and would have an approach to energy with a cyclical vision of economic and not as at present.

After the two presentations the discussion starts with the public and organized around the following topics:

1. The problem of energy in the frame of Euroland, is to define solutions in the short term, especially for the transition energy (the transition from nuclear to other energy sources). Is this possible while ensuring that energy bills are still manageable?
See in France, one wonders how to balance industrial development and the reduction of the energy bill? Or what will happen in other states, those steping out of nuclear, we should learn a little about the nuclear deal between the European countries. In the future how to ensure the reduction of energy?

Marco Morosini explains that the investments for the long term are paid by all Europeans, even nuclear research in France is subsidized by the taxes of Europeans. We can save energy, but be aware that this has a cost.

For Christel Hahn, as a citizen it is clear that the evolution of the energy bill is for us the most important and then the first step would be to go on the economic sector, we must find answers on the international level, leaving the dollar and find a new source of payment for energy. This would reduce costs. We really need to look to the civil society, see what happens, check on the economic level and not just leaving economic actors decide. As a German it is obvious after Fukushima that we have to leave nuclear power. It's a source that is destructive, it also had the first goal to be destructive (nuclear bomb). But the question is an eminently "sensible" in France.

Maria Zei
said that the issue of redistribution and access to energy is fundamental, even in France, management is not perfect.

2. The context requires a European and global answer. Need anticipation

In Austria there are still debates on the issue of energy, but no concrete conclusions. Austria has no nuclear power plant in the 80's a first plant was built, but following a referendum has never been started. It now serves as a museum. Two-thirds of the energy is hydro, but Austria import plenty of nuclear energy from the neighbourg states, especially Slovenia and the Czech Republic and we are concerned with issues about the safety of these plants which are at our borders. Austria has implemented an extensive program of subsidies for energy production in particular, photovoltaic, solar and other. So saving for individuals with very low energy bills. This also applies for companies that do a lot of benefits, including the redistribution.

Christel Hahn
stresses the need to rely on the European and global context: a single country can not answer the question itself, it is a common response that we must find, common solutions. Our states and our survival is interdependent, our finances and research, protection of consumers and the environment.

Maria Zei
said that indeed the energy policy of each country in the euro zone is like whatsoever . It's each one for himself. presently we can no more decide alone to stop the nuclear, it is not without consequences for others. What weight and what responsibility for states that decide to continue with nuclear power, the providers of other states? This is a shared responsibility. If tomorrow the Nuclear Suppliers also decide to stop what will it cost to European consumers? There is a problem of anticipation: No European state is able to face an energy crisis in the short term even in the medium to long term. No advance is made in order to select one or the other direction for the future of energy, not even a single consultation with other European countries. In addition she points out that our society was built on oil and that even the nuclear power plants and solar depend (whether for operation, think of plastics or diesel fuel in nuclear emergency, and for the production for example of solar panels).

Marco Morosini
says that the issue of national and local subsidies are good decisions, and that another paradigm of Germany is the logic of its law on renewable energy, which has become an example for 50 countries around the world, including China.

3. On the issue of energy we are faced with two space-time: short and long term (Bruno Paul) - Perspectives, research and development. To which solutions: local / global? - What vision: European / global?
In the long term, we face a global problem of method, to approach the question of the energy we need to address in a common framework and more comprehensive way. It is related to the problem of the economy, population, environment. Global constraints can be summarized under the term of the ecological crisis. This is a problem of anticipation, how to understand using the tools of political anticipation and looking at the problem in a global context, including the principle of variability as soon that element of the population is taken in account. This question is related to geopolitics. In the short term, as has been discussed, there is the key question of "post Fukushima" and the future of energy in Europe.

What will happen to the nuclear lobby in France from the time when other European partners abandon nuclear power? This is a problem of industrialization, operating networks, which can not be developed by a single state, but with other countries, and it is an opportunity for Euroland, Europe, and this shall not be conducted only with European countries but also the BRICS, see China working on other energy systems and which are not unknown in Europe, which would open endless possibilities of energy.
Z-machines, techniques derived from magneto-hydrodynamics ...
This is not a secret research but basic research on these developments are in the range of 40 to 50 years. We must therefore address this time!
What solutions apply? What are the real prospects?
Do we continue to invest in never upcoming and expensive projects, who can not work, that are technologically uncertain?
Photovoltaics is not a real solution either.
The solution is a composition of local solutions, but a lot of ideas remain in the drawers, because the system, the lobbies in place are preventing the development of these ideas.
How can we make these ideas emerging democratically?

Marco Morosini said that there is a European regulation on photovoltaics. The issue of nuclear power in France relies more on a logic of independence. Can we trust between European partners and other global partners whether in the absence of nuclear energy resources we are obliged to provide us each others? The question of the balance between European and global level.

Indeed, explains Cyrille Pauthenier we have a "European" vision on energy, a vision of developed countries. This is not the case globally. Moreover, we should not kid ourselves, though we say, although we think, we will burn all energy resources we have, and we must find ways to extend the time that will go to the end of the resources. The transition energy is seen on a global scale in terms of generational and know how, much energy can be used while waiting to find global solutions for the long term.
In the next 10 years: we will continue to use oil, oil of the second generation and third generation fuels. You can not bet on solar energy ... to bet on these technologies is exactly what we did with oil, tap into resources to be exhausted first, nor wind, or hydroelectric dams ... We must also take into account the environmental impact of all these alternative energy resources ...
Energies we think we could bet on today are on a small scale, not global: German coal, Chinese ... (China is building a plant per week). There is no long-term perspective.
It takes time for further research on future technologies including the return to the ideas of nuclear operations, there are other nuclear fusion technologies. What is needed is an investment in the future, it is the most important.

4. Democracy
Marianne Ranke-Cormier says that tThe issue of energy is also a problem of democratic control.
For Franck Biancheri indeed the question of democratic control is central. Euroland is an ideal setting for democratic control, a space for citizens to make their voices heard, the positions are very different but the states are since Fukushima listening their citizens (see the position of the German state under pressure from German anti-nuclear public opinion).
Currently in the Euro zone we have two camps, France and other countries in Euroland.
Other energy sources can be developed with other research partners, the BRICS have very interesting programs on long-term prospects. See the use of space: India is developing a huge collection of solar energy directly into space and transmission via electromagnetic waves. Russia is already very interested in this Indian project. In the long run we have no solution. It is necessary, urgent to get back into research programs and invest as much as possible in as many possible solutions to find the long-term prospects.

Christel Hahn also states that biomass is not a solution. We need one hand to produce what we eat, not to use this vital resource to fill the tanks of our cars.

For Marco Morosini infinite energy is the quest of humanity. The important thing to establish is the evaluation of price and cost. Nuclear energy bill does not include for example the cost of risk. All energy has a cost. But you need to know also that the forecasts which set the cost of renewable energy, the price of the transition, were overestimating. The transition is possible, it is simply a matter of controlling the players and to hold accountability.

Maria Zei presents the conclusions of the panel.

Invest for the long term is a fundamental and democratic issue.
We are in a system where it is first necessary to consider the question of democracy.
Positions are various, solutions are more than various. We see short-term systems are possible, but long-term need to exploited.
We need to restart the search in all directions and take into account unexplored areas until the end, such as electromagnetism.
She ends with an image, a nod to the professor Emilio Del Giudice (Italian researcher with Prof.. Giuliano Preparata on cold fusion): the energy production via fission is like a rape, in the intra-atomic vacuum violence is broken and the kernel is released much energy and much radioactivity but also all radioactive fission products, in contrast, in a space "crowded" like a crystal lattice, by exceeding a certain threshold of saturation of hydrogen in the network, an electromagnetic field is switched on and then all the atoms begin to "dance / vibrate" together and the hydrogen atoms fuse into helium atoms (inert gas and non-radioactive) and release energy without radioactivity. It is as if two people to fall in love need others (such as in ancient times, the old granny allowing two lovers to meet ...).
So the moral of the story could also be an old Italian proverb: with sweetness you can always obtained everything and it is with this wish of a lot more love in our future approaches to these fundamental questions of life that ends the session.


Continuation with panel 6
→ Rationalising the Euroland structure to allow its citizens' understanding and control"

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 December 2011 )
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In memoriam
In memoriam
After a long battle against the disease Franck Biancheri passed away 30th of October 2012, at the age of 51. A great European, a militant democrat, a wonderful person.
Franck Biancheri was founder of AEGEE and founding fathers of the ERASMUS programme. He also was research director of the European thinktank LEAP 2020. In 2005, following the no of the Dutch and French to the Constitutional Treaty, Franck Biancheri founded the European citizens movement Newropeans.