Call for EU to lead 'third industrial revolution' (The


European energy ministers are being urged to develop a "new economic vision" when they meet in Brussels this week.

American economist Jeremy Rifkin joined MEPs and interest groups in Brussels on Tuesday to call for a "third industrial revolution".

This, he said, could help secure sustainable growth and help tackle the key economic and social challenges.

Rifkin, who is also president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, said, "We are in end game now for the second industrial revolution based on fossil fuels.

"We have now hit global peak oil production. This is the peak of globalisation."

The key pillars of the "third industrial revolution" include converting buildings to power plants and drastically reforming transport methods.

"We need a new economic vision and game plan that's smart, practical, deliverable... and that can move us to post-carbon in less than two generations," Rifkin told reporters.

Calling for ministers to use Friday's energy summit to "connect the dots", Rifkin spoke of need to create a "new economic paradigm for Europe".

Socialist MEP Jo Leinen said five of parliament's major political groups had come together to "open the door to a new industrial revolution for the way energy is produced, transported and consumed in the EU".

Leinen, who chairs parliament's environment committee, also criticised the draft conclusions adopted by the council for failing to take parliament's views on board.

"There is no connection, no content. [The draft conclusions] are diffuse and contradictory," he said.

EPP deputy Maria Da Graça Carvalho, a member of parliament's industry, research and energy committee, said the EU needed an "ambitious and concrete plan in this area".

Speaking of ongoing economic difficulties, she added, "In this critical moment... we need a radical overhaul of the way we use energy in society."

Speaking for the Greens/ EFA group, Claude Turmes said the 20:20:20 targets on renewable and emissions reduction meant that "this vision is already partly a reality".

Andrea Benassi, secretary general of Uapme, the SME employers' organisation, said, "The third industrial revolution is an extraordinary opportunity for our society at large and for small and medium-sized companies in particular.

"SMEs will benefit from this revolution as users, installers, creators of new technologies, advisers on energy efficiency and micro-generators of renewable energy."

Monique Goyens, director general of the Beuc consumer organisation said, "As recent events in Africa have shown, for revolutions you need people to make it happen and therefore the third industrial revolution needs to engage with consumers.

"The third industrial revolution will only become a reality if the convergence between energy and new communication technologies is taken on board by consumers, SMEs, cooperatives and trade unions."

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