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Mark Kenber launches The Clean Revolution: Read his speech from Rio+20

26 June 2012
Mark Kenber launches The Clean Revolution: Read his speech from Rio+20

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, speaks at the launch of The Clean Revolution Campaign at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, Brazil, June 19, 2012.

The Clean Revolution is an ambitious and exciting program. It is a partnership initiative of world leaders - international statesmen and governments, business leaders and corporations. It addresses the key challenges we all face right now as well as in the future. It is coordinated by The Climate Group, which since 2004 has connected the world’s most influential business and government leaders to take action on the climate agenda. 

The initiative calls for a swift, massive scale-up of clean energy and infrastructure, and of smart technologies and design. It aims to create a tipping point for change, by inspiring government and business leaders to act decisively. It presents the evidence of the massive economic opportunities of the Clean Revolution, and profiles how innovative leadership is already transforming policies and markets around the world. 

It is our belief that this is the only feasible path to a smarter, better, prosperous future. It is based on a powerful, shared vision of a world of clean and accessible energy, sustainable mobility, smart buildings and closed-loop systems. A low carbon world with a thriving economy, quality employment, energy security. A society where the quality of life of communities everywhere is enhanced. 

The Clean Revolution is the catalyst for the sustainable and successful global economy that we must build for present and future generations. The Clean Revolution is happening all around the world. Right now. And it is a resounding success story.

It is changing the lives of millions of people – from the big cities of Europe and North America, to rural communities in China and India. It is happening in Germany where, last May, for the first time ever, solar plants produced more energy than the country’s 20 nuclear plants. It is happening in China, now the world’s fastest-growing market for renewables, and whose solar panel exports now exceed the value of America’s corn, beef and chicken exports combined.

It is happening in the state of Gujarat in India, the solar hub for the sub-continent, and where wind energy production has risen 10-fold in six years. It is happening in South Australia, where wind energy supplied 31% of the state’s energy needs in the last quarter, up from zero only six years ago. It is happening in the US state Texas, now the biggest producer of wind energy in the country. 

The world is changing. The Clean Revolution has begun. But now the revolution needs to be accelerated. It needs to be accelerated because business as usual is no longer an option. Gradual change is no longer enough. Not for our times. 

Not in a world where the pace of technological change is exponential. Not in a world where the growth in population and resource demands will soon render conventional energy infrastructure inadequate. Not in a world that is crying out for a new vision to take us out of the cycle of stagnation and recession. That is crying out for a new vision from our leaders of a future that combines sustainability and prosperity. 

Bold, visionary leadership is the key to the success of the Clean Revolution. Throughout history, revolutions – whether technical, social or economic – have required great leadership. From the visionaries of the Industrial Revolution to Edison, Marconi and Graham Bell; from Peter the Great to Gandhi, leaders have steered the world forward. 

But visionary leadership always has and always will face skepticism and fear. The Wright brothers were called “bluffers”. Edison’s light bulb was decried as “a fraud upon the public”. We supposedly reached our limits with computers – back in 1949. We were also told flying machines heavier than air were impossible. That people would soon bore of television. In Britain, we were even told we would never need telephones - because there were more than enough messenger boys. 

The nay-sayers, of course, were proved wrong then. The visionaries were proved right. And now more than ever, as the world grapples with an unprecedented global financial crisis, it is vital that the new visionaries – the Clean Revolutionaries – are proved right. The current crisis threatens to destabilize countries and entire regions. It is not just a financial crisis – it is a political crisis too. 

It is a crisis of confidence.  Of confidence in our markets. Of confidence in our political systems. Of confidence in our very future.

We have reached a dead end. And we need a way out. We need a way out that gets our economy growing again. That creates jobs and prosperity. That brings hope to communities. We need a way out that recognizes and rewards innovation. That encourages investment. That brings people together around a new vision. 

The Clean Revolution is that way forward. It is the only viable way forward. It is an extraordinary economic opportunity that is within our grasp.

Look at the evidence. The UK has been hit by a double-dip recession. Yet its clean economy sector is growing 5% every year. Around the world, prices of stocks and shares have been flat or falling. Yet portfolios of green economy companies are outperforming their peers by 50%.

We talk of stagnant markets and sectoral decline. Yet the clean tech industry will be worth three times its current value by the end of this decade. We read about job losses and slow recovery. Yet renewable energy is creating more jobs per joule than natural gas or coal, and there could be as many as 60 million new jobs that could be created in the green economy

We worry about energy security and how we are going to balance books and meet demand cost-effectively. Yet studies indicate solar energy could soon be the cheapest source of energy on the market. We wonder if consumers are ready for the change. Yet hybrid car sales in the US – the home of the internal combustion engine – have soared by 2000% in the last decade.

And this is just the beginning. Innovation, scale and competition will make clean tech the new stream of gold. It – not the real estate sector, not even the internet industry - is the only economic sector that today offers us a way out of recession, and towards rebuilding prosperity. 

The opportunity is there. The vision is there. The leaders are there. The technology is there. But the challenge we face is to harness these forces effectively. We need a swift, massive movement to bring us to the tipping-point in time. 

The clock is ticking. The threat of irreversible and unpredictable climate change is ever-present. The revolution will happen when the world’s most influential business and government leaders come together with a shared belief in that revolution.

Today is the beginning of a new journey. We will walk this road together. We will face sceptics and our critics together. We will speak our vision with passion and integrity, together. We will commit to partnerships that will deliver transformation together. We will make the Clean Revolution a reality. Together.

Read more about the Clean Revolution.

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