The NFU's chief adviser for renewable energy and climate change, Dr Jonathan Scurlock, provides an update from Energy Action Day at the climate talks in Bonn.
I’m most impressed by how well integrated the German public transport system is – having negotiated the cryptic railway timetables to catch two trams and a train to and from my accommodation 30 miles outside Bonn.
I was less impressed by the initial presentations on Friday’s Energy Action Day – major energy companies like Shell and Iberdrola seem to be in denial about the speed of the low-carbon transition, talking down the way that consumers are embracing renewables and electric vehicles, although there was a broader consensus that the development of more realistic carbon pricing is essential to drive action.
Other speakers were more upbeat: Nepal is committed to provide its citizens, urban and rural, with clean lighting and cooking by the mid-2020s. Commenting on the needed pace of change, a Canadian delegate from the progressive Vancouver City Council quipped: “Some is not a number, and soon is not a time.”
And US senator Jeff Merkley (Democrat, Oregon) injected some excitement into the debate, describing his proposed bill to end fossil fuel use in the USA by 2050. "We are the generation that must address this," he said. "It cannot wait 30 years."
Senator Merkley spoke enthusiastically about Tesla and electric car racing, and the social need to retrain fossil fuel industry workers to find employment in the growing renewables economy.
With Al Gore visiting the Indonesian and German national pavilions today, the message is that the Americans are 'still in' the climate talks, despite the Canute-like statements from the White House.