Last week the CEES hosted another Energy Justice CONFERENCE in Boulder, Colorado. The key participants included Dr. Kandeh Yumkellah, Director General of UNIDO and Senator Tim Wirth, as well as Dr. Lakshman Guruswamy and Dr. Christian Brugger among others. Jose Ambrozic participated in one of the panels representing Creatio, along withs Jason Prapas who collaborated on a project with Creatio in Peru this summer installing cookstoves. The conference was also attended by Mr. Tebaldo Vinciguerra, a member of the Vatican Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Below some of the highlights of the conference:
1. Dr. Yumkella gave a positive speech, and highlighted that among the many criticisms of the Rio +20 world meeting in 2012, the greatest accomplishment concerned energy and energy justice. Amon all countries there was a 50 billion dollar pledge to support energy justice initiatives, and this set the tone to where much of the approach to environmental concerns is going now. Yumkellah emphasized how the scare tactics and alarmism of environmentalists has not worked, and a narrative that will bring about change and environmental improvement must reconcile and consider economic interests as well. That’s why energy justice is climbing up on the agenda of priority issues. Much environmental and economic good can be gained by giving energy access to poor people, and doing it in the cleanest way possible. A case where money-making and environmentally clean initiatives have a potential to work together.
2. The other speaker of note was Senator Tim Wirth, who mostly talked about climate change and the need to take action. He also made a clear reference to population as a serious factor which contributes to climate change and that the USA should continue to fund programmes that give family planning opportunities “for people around the world who want family planning and can’t get it”. We regretted the fact that the USA had dropped its support on this issue. I have discussed the substance of this position here, here and here. Finally he spoke about the importance of women.
3. The best speaker of the entire conference, that is, the one who offered the most substance, was Dr. Christian Brugger. He spoke about the moral and philosophical foundations of ‘energy justice’ from the perspective of natural law. He invoked four main principles relevant to the issue “Autonomy, authority, solidarity and fairness”, and explained how complex energy justice is since energy means many different things in different contexts; it is above all about what energy can proportion to people’s wellbeing. While authority and autonomy imply that the responsibility to acquire energy lies on the individual and their government, solidarity and fairness are not directive but suggest that social duties go beyond oneself to the entire human family. And these duties grow in a globalized context as well. Finally he concluded on the need of purifying one’s intentions to include all of humanity, including the unborn.
4. On the technical side, Stephen Kastsaros gave a great presentation on environmental and appropriate technologies through the work of Nokero. Jason Prapas also shared his work with cookstoves. Jason collaborated with Cariats Ayaviri and Creatio in Peru for the last 2 summers to improve the living conditions in remote villages.