How would you invest 100 billion Euros?

Alternative energies won a snap audience poll at an ESOF session.  Flickr

Marielba Nuñez
Freelance journalist from Venezuela, SciDev.Net

The query at an ESOF session on practical solutions to energy and climate crisis this morning tried to make the audience think a bit about it.

They had to  vote for one of five options: promoting behavior change to use less energy; investing in the efficient use of energy; improving fossil fuel use; promoting the use of nuclear energy and finding alternatives energies. The query was posed after they listened to a panel of young scientists who promoted the merits of each option…in ten minutes flat.

The result of the snap poll? About a third — 31 billion euros —  should be invested in alternative sources of energy; 26 billion in more efficient energy; 19 billion in changing patterns of energy consumption; 18 billion in improving the use of nuclear energy, and five billion in fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are clearly unpopular, even more than the dreaded nuclear energy.

Although the audience had a clear mind – and much information – of their own; the panelists also did a good job of convincing the audience about their respective view points.

For example, the argument of Marc Foley from the National University of Ireland, that it was possible to reuse nuclear waste, and hence nuclear energy was a safe option,  had some takers in the audience. This was despite the fact that a delegate reminded the audience that plans to increase the number of nuclear plants are facing stiff opposition in countries like India.

However, arguments in favour of fossil fuels, including their lower cost and futuristic technologies to store carbon underground, did not arouse enthusiasm, even in someone like me, coming from an oil-producing country.

Any idea why alternative energies were the favourites? Karyn Morrissey, from the University of Liverpool, who championed their cause, said, “in the heart of renewable energy are innovations”. That is, it gives us permission to use our 100 billion euros to dream of a totally new and clean world. That bowled many, including me, over.

This blog post is part of our ESOF 2012 blog which takes place 11-15 July, 2012. To read news and analysis on themes related to the conference please visit our website.

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