After the opening ceremony of the International Student Energy Summit 2013, I was full of expectations for the rest of this event. It’s not every day that 500 students from 60 countries are gathered to discuss the transition towards a sustainable energy future. But for three days from June 13 it happened in Trondheim. The delegates also represented a wide selection of fields; from anthropologists to economists to nano technologists. That is the beginning of a recipe of a great event.
And my expectations were fulfilled. I learned new things from all the sessions, and the social events at the evenings were fun. I think everybody agreed that the summit was very well organized. But what was the conclusion? How can we make the energy future more sustainable? If I only had one sentence to conclude I would say; there is not one simple solution.
For me one of the more surprising things was that nuclear energy is considered much safer than most people seem to think. New technologies are making it easier to produce nuclear weapons at hidden locations separate from nuclear power plants, so that link is disappearing. And handling the nuclear waste is not a problem anymore, the experts claimed. There will always be a risk of nuclear catastrophes, but no energy source comes without risks. Hydro power has probably killed more people than nuclear power, because of bursting dams.
But renewable energies and nuclear energy can’t cover the electricity demands for a long time. We will have to make more energy efficient buildings and machineries. And still we need some oil and gas. Most renewable energy sources are depending on the weather. We can’t expect the wind to blow whenever it suits us, and we can’t make the sun shine whenever we want. So when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine we need other sources of energy.
Several of the speakers and delegates talked about how environmentalists can join petroleum companies to help them become more sustainable. I totally agree with that. As I mentioned earlier the world needs energy, and we can’t stop using fossil fuels tomorrow. Some also mentioned that the environmental organizations have unrealistic policies, but I didn’t hear anyone talk about joining the environmental organizations to make their policies more realistic. They say they care about the environment, but it seems like they think it’s more important to recruit people to petroleum companies than to environmental organizations.
1,4 billion people don’t have access to electricity. When they need heat for cooking they will have to make a fire. And the smoke from these fires is one of the biggest causes of death in some countries. Spire is a youth organization working for a just and sustainable distribution of the world’s resources. So when we go to the international climate negotiations, we stand together with the poor countries.
Written by Hans Inge Alander, Leader of Trondheim local chapter