While the IAA premiered in the Bavarian capital Munich, around 200 invited guests gathered at the BMW World, to discuss one of the most pressing topics of our time: sustainability.
The end is near for the fossil fuels industry, according to US author and economist Jeremy Rifkin, who predicts that it will collapse within the next decade as electric vehicles start to take over the world’s roads.
Rifkin, who will be speaking at the DLD Munich technology and innovation conference (January 18-20, 2020), says that we need to start building smart networked energy infrastructure “quickly and at scale”, supported by a new generation of political leaders, and financed by global pension funds.
The DLD speaker is calling for a complete rethink of energy production and distribution, adding: “The technology is now here. We don’t need any more R&D. There are no excuses.”
Three steps to building a renewable energy future
So how will this shift take place? Well, first it will require political clout – a new generation of leaders willing to speed up the transition towards an economy powered by wind, sun and water. (Rifkin has previously advised world leaders including France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel.)
Secondly, it will need smart infrastructure, capable of moving energy around the grid dynamically, wherever supply and demand are strongest (unlike coal-fired power plants, it’s much harder to predict nature). This will mean upgrading power grids, installing sensors and switches, and creating millions of jobs along the way.
Thirdly, and very importantly, it needs finance. Yet as pension funds around the world drop their investments in fossil fuels and look for alternatives, there’s potentially a $28 trillion benefactor to the cause, says Rifkin. “The money is there. You have trillions of dollars of pension funds, desperate to get out of stranded assets [like fossil fuels].”
To watch Jeremy Rifkin’s talk at DLD Munich, you can tune into the livestream on the event website.