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Interview 11 from 15

:: "Is there an economical miracle in ecological goods?"

"Hollywood’s biggest movie stars like Julia Robert and Leonardo di Caprio teach us how. Ecological awareness becomes trendy and Germany as export champion helps with its highly developed environmental technology. Is there an ecological economic miracle taking place?"
Mr Alt, ecological awareness seems to become trendy in Hollywood. Is eco getting sexy?
Franz Alt: Smaller cars are becoming chic in the United States and hybrid cars from Japan are known as sexy. Hollywood’s new green heroes like Julia Roberts, Pierce Brosnan and Leonardo di Caprio have come to the last Oscar Award in hybrid cars from Japan - and Hollywood is the place were trends are born.

When Pierce Brosnan – alias James Bond – received the Goldene Kamara (a German movie award) in Berlin for his environmental engagement, German screen legend Nina Ruge presented him the trophy saying, “His enemy is the indifference”. A little bit of glamour can’t do any harm to the protection of the environment! Brosnan reckoned eventually that even his “love for beautiful woman was eco-politically absolutely harmless”.
 
The female’s heart throb added more seriously:”We haven’t inherited this world from our parents; we have borrowed it from our children. Men’s heart throb Julia Robert said: “I learned what it means to economize sustainable in my garden”. She only buys biological products und uses 100 % ecological energy. The probably most influential environmental activist Leonardo di Caprio recommended his fans after his meeting with Al Gore: “Vote political leaders who protect the climate!”  The 32 year old is the boss of the powerful “Natural Resources Defence Council”, an American environment association with 1,2 million members.

When Leonardo di Caprio presented Al Gores movie “An inconvenient truth” on the East Coast in Malibu, he said unusual words to his audience. He said words like these: “I stand before you as a father, as an environmental activist and as a worried citizen.”  The man whom screen colleague Kate Winslet had deemed the “the most beautiful man on earth” wrote to his worldwide fans on his 31st birthday that his “greatest wish would be if everyone helped to restore our planet”. 
 
 
Environmental awareness as a new society trend – soon to be found Germany, too?
Franz Alt: Today Germany is already the export champion in environmental technology goods. Once up on a time, German Companies demonised environmental imposts and now they are profiting form it.

  • Power plants had to desulphurize their noxious fumes
  • Automobiles  had to build in catalytic converters
  • Chemical plants had to clarify their sewage
  • Recycling plants had to install filters
The red-green federal government has advanced the use of solar energy, wind power and bio energy. The Germans have been separating their rubbish bins for years. Yellow, green and grey recycle bins have raised the environmental awareness as much as the introduction of the can deposit taxes.

Germany is the wind world champion of 2007. Alone in 2006 the Federal State of Bavaria has installed more solar plants than the United States and Japan together. German citizen buy energy saving kitchen appliances, compact fluorescent lamp and water saving washing machines. All this makes sense in four ways: ecological action is good for the environment, good for the wallet, good for job creation and good for future the generations, whom we would spare from an unbearable environmental burden.
 
 
It sounds as if we could pull off a new economic miracle – this time an ecological economic miracle?
Franz Alt: What the German Green Party has asked for by means of moral pleas and silent vigils for decades is finally reaching majority appeal in 2007.

The new time also entail a new economical era. The world economy is heading towards a green epoch, which in the 21st century will bring as many revolutionary changes as once did the invention of the steam engine, the railway, the telephone or the telecommunication. Economical growth and simultaneously less carbon dioxide emissions are possible.

"If you want to earn green money, you have to act today!”

Who adjusts himself in time and turns green will win; who on the contrary misses the eco-train will be superseded.  And the saying: “Who arrives too late will be punished by life” confirms it again. Several politicians of the German Bundestag such as Hermann Scheer from the SPD (Social Democratic Party), Hans-Josef Fell from the German Green Party, Klaus Töpfer from the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) or Josef Göppel from the CSU (Christian Social Union) have helped to establish the majority for the Feed-in tariffs and Angela Merkel implemented them into the big coalition.   

The world wide most successful law to encourage and speed up the use of new energy technologies has been adopted by more than 47 countries – including India and China. Thanks to these laws, Germany today plays a leading role and has already created more than 200.000 employments in the renewable energy sector.
 
 
Shell constructs solar plant and wind turbines, BP produce solar modules and have changed its name from British Petroleum to Beyond Petrol, a post petrol energy company. Are the big energy companies switching over, too?
Franz Alt: Way too slowly but they are beginning to move because they are running out of their old resources such as uranium, coal, gas and petrol.

Shell wants to erect wind turbines in the North Sea but also wants to produce bio energy. BP puts it in a nutshell on its advertisement by saying that it’s all about “less CO2 and more IQ”. Energy efficiency weighs as much as profit. In the meantime German wind turbines can be found rotating in China, India, the United States, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Solar cells made in Germany will soon provide environmental friendly electricity to millions of Spaniards and Italians.  Hydropower plants from Germany are producing ecological electricity in China, Indonesia, Africa and Brazil. Minister Gabriel predicts that by 2020 at least three million people in Germany will be employed in the environmental sector.

The chief economist of the Deutsche Bank, Norbert Walter already recognized in 2005 that “Who still opposes the option of renewable energy today, must be wrong in his garret.” The world economy would be far less burdened if we would come to our senses and turn ecological. Indeed all the authors of world climate reports agree that we cannot wait any longer preconceiving before acting as we have been doing. As the problem urges, time is of essence. It is not “five to twelve” it is twelve o’clock. Every day without action is a lost day for our children and grandchildren.    
 

Could it be that some German sectors have missed out on this trend?
Franz Alt:  That’s it. Today’s crisis of the German automobile companies is the result of their longstanding greed for more. In the first four months of 2007, the automobiles sector suffered a 26% drop in its car sales in comparison with the previous year. It was common knowledge that oil and petrol prices would rise because soon the oil flow would cease – but yet the local automobile constructors tried to camouflage, block out and prettify this conceivable issue by building in larger gas hogs. The megalomaniacs refused to believe the sudden demand for smaller cars and thus demonstrated that environmental sensibility is alien to them.

Nevertheless, the last IAA (International Automobile Show) in Frankfurt has proved that the fascination about cars is not solely reliant to its engine size. By the way, small cars have never been as big and comfortable as you will find them in these high priced petrol times. Smaller cars are becoming as attractive as public transport. And all this has nothing to do with abandonment – simply with profit: profit for the moneybag and for the environment.

The first hybrid vehicle, which was a combination between an electric motor and an Otto-Smith, was not put on the world market by a German but by Toyota. The hybrid vehicle was nevertheless an invention of the Aachen University in the year 1972. VW, Daimler and the likes have not even been capable to assemble the Diesel particulate filters stipulated by the EU in time. No other German economic sector has missed out on the future like our automakers.
Source:
cases 2007
Franz Alt 2007
Übersetzung: Omotuli Nafidi
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