Desertec and Environmentalism's North African Campaign
By William Walter Kay
The world’s largest energy megaproject has begun. Desertec will spend the better part of a trillion dollars on solar energy plants in North Africa, the electricity from which will be transmitted via undersea cables to Europe. The notion that this project is an eco-fantasy is quickly felled by investigating the heavyweight European businesses involved in the Desertec Industrial Initiative. Broadening the investigation into other media and activist groups involved yields useful insights into environmentalism. For instance:
During the early years of the Climate Change campaign, the Holtzbrincks (a family of impeccable German-aristocratic and Nazi pedigree) purchased Scientific American and Nature magazines. These media outlets profoundly influenced the Climate Change debate.
Bertelsmann AG, controlled by Germany’s Mohn family (also militant Nazis), is Europe’s largest media conglomerate and the top publisher of English-language books. Mohns’ current matriarch, like her recently deceased husband, is a full member of the ultra-green Club of Rome.
Among Europe’s most effective environmental activist organizations are: German Business Forum for Sustainable Development, E8, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, CSR Europe, European Wind Energy Association, and the European Solar Thermal Electricity Association.
Desertec is to supply 15% of total European electricity needs from North Africa! Another cornerstone of Europe’s green energy plan is the replacement of coal and uranium with natural gas. North Africa is to be the main gas supplier. Thus, Europe’s green energy plan presupposes knocking down North Africa’s economic-nationalist regimes like five-pins.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Club of Rome, Bertelsmann AG, and Liz Mohn
The Desertec Industrial Initiative and the European Eco-Industrial Complex
The Deutche Bank - McKitrick Controversy
Regime Change in North Africa
Desertec was conceived in 2003 by Gerhard Knies, founder of Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC), and Prince Hassan of Jordan, then President of the Club of Rome. Studies relating to Desertec were conducted by the German Aerospace Center (funded by the German Environment Ministry) and by renewable energy institutes from several Arab states. These studies were summarized in a White Book presented to the European Parliament by Prince Hassan in 2007. Hans-Gert Pöttering, then President of both the European Parliament and the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, immediately endorsed Desertec.
Desertec Foundation (DF) was launched in 2009 by TREC and the Club of Rome’s German Association. The latter enjoys permanent representation on DF’s Board. DF Chairman, Max Schon, is an entrepreneur from Lubeck and President of the Club of Rome’s German Association. Gerhard Knies, another DF official, is also in the Club of Rome. DF is a non-profit society governed by German laws and headquartered in Berlin. Twenty-one of its 31 founders were German citizens.
Katrin-Susanne Richter, a business consultant and software company manager, is responsible for DF’s marketing, strategic development, and scientific network coordination. Thiemo Gropp, a technology entrepreneur, is responsible for DF funding and for cooperation with Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii).
Munich-based Dii was founded October 2009 by DF and several businesses, notably Munich Re. Whereas DF is global in scope, Dii’s focus is the EU-MENA (European Union, Middle East, North Africa).
Dii’s Chairman is Hans Müller-Steinhagen of the German Aerospace Center. Dii’s CEO, Paul van Son, held executive positions in electricity and gas companies for 30 years (Siemens and Essent) where he specialized in biomass and wind power. Van Son runs the non-profit Energy4All Foundation, which promotes decentralized energy in Africa. He is also President of the European Federation of Energy Traders. Rainer Aringhoff, Dii’s Chief Operating Officer, is an energy consultant who supervised the building of Europe’s first commercial parabolic mirror trough plants in southern Spain. He was General Secretary of the European Solar Thermal Industry Association until 2006 (now European Solar Thermal Electricity Association) and he is the solar industry rep on California’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative. Dii’s strategic advisor, Klaus Toepfer, ran the United Nations Environment Program from 1998 to 2006. Before that Toepfer was German Environment Minister for seven years.
Dii goals for 2050 are to meet much of North Africa’s electricity needs, and 15% of Europe's electricity needs, from Concentrated Solar Power plants, photovoltaic panels and wind turbines situated on North African deserts and coasts.
Dii goals for 2012 are: a) develop technical/regulatory frameworks for investments into renewable energy and interconnecting grids; b) start pilot projects; and c) develop long-term plans with a focus on financing.
A Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant works like a coal steam power plant except solar power is the heat source. Parabolic mirrors reflect concentrated sunlight onto water-filled pipes. The resulting steam drives turbines for power generation. CSP has an advantage over photovoltaic power in that heat can be stored in molten salt or concrete blocks, thus allowing for the provision of energy at night. CSP is easily married into a hybrid plant for all that is needed is an alternate heat source. At coastal sites, sea water used for cooling the steam power cycle can be desalinated. A 250 MW collector field might run a 200 MW turbine and desalinate 100,000 cubic meters of water a day.
Dii claims mass production and technological innovation will reduce costs, hence: “If political leaders take resolute action now, desert-based CSP may compete with fossil fuels in less than 10 years.”
Recent innovations include new air-cooled models – an expensive but important step towards solar power in waterless environments. As well, 3M recently showcased mirrors that reflect 3% better than conventional mirrors yet are 75% lighter.Desertec depends on new High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines which can transmit current thousands of kilometers with losses of only 3-5% per 1,000 km. In contrast to conventional alternating-current lines, new HVDC lines can be installed underground. HVDC, however, does require complex converter stations, with thousands of semiconductor modules, at each end of the line. Glitches in a few modules can destroy the entire station. Fraunhofer AG recently announced a breakthrough in solving this converter problem.
Desertec construction cost estimates all come from pro-Desertec groups. They claim 17% of Europe’s future (2050) energy needs can be met by 2,500 square kilometers of curved mirrors on the Sahara Desert linked to European markets by 3,500 kilometers of HVDC transmission line. Transmission trunk lines would consist of twenty 5GW HVDC cables costing $3 billion each. Constructing one air-cooled 250 MW CSP plant would employ 1,000 workers and engineers for three years and cost $1.5 billion.
Production costs of Desertec electricity depend on plant location and transmission line length. Desertec boosters’ estimates vary from 6.5 cents to 16 cents per kilowatt/hour (kWh). Even Ecologist magazine concedes the cheapest solar power costs 16 cents per kWh. (They place coal-fired costs at 6 cents per kWh and natural gas at 8 cents.)
However in Dii’s own calculations they claim: “… in the interests of fair competition, the price of energy from fossil fuels must include charges for CO2 emissions… With proper charges for CO2 emissions, solar and other renewable sources of energy would be competitive even today.”
Climate Change is the core of Desertec’s sales pitch. DF’s recently releasedRedPaper is a litany of climate scares. Here are some examples:
“…our industry-based economy is mainly based on the use of fossil fuels… the combustion of these fuels has led to a significant increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the undisputed cause for increases in global temperatures and changes in the world’s climate that are now in progress.”
“The average temperature rise in the atmosphere, the melting of the polar ice caps as well as the increase in extreme weather events worldwide are obvious signs that we are putting too great a strain on the Earth.”
“The melting of the Greenland ice sheet, for instance, would lead to an increase in sea level of several meters.”
Such statements appear throughout Desertec publications. Their logic is as follows:
“CO2 emissions have to be drastically reduced within the next few years in order to prevent a disastrous Climate Change.”
“Climate protection focuses primarily on avoiding the combustion of fossil energy sources.”
“It does not matter whether the CO2 emissions arise or are avoided in Europe or the MENA region. In the end, the speed of the CO2 reduction is the decisive factor.”
At the 4th Climate Forum (Thun, 2010) Knies pitched Desertec to 450 businessmen and politicians. “For 20 years people considered me to be crazy,” said the 72-year-old Knies – then came Global Warming.
In his acceptance speech, upon receiving Bayreuth’s 2010 Wilhelmine Prize, Prince Hassan foretold of major conflicts caused by Climate Change and proffered Desertec as the solution. Earlier, on Radio Netherlands, the Prince said Desertec would forestall Arab states “jumping on the nuclear bandwagon.”
Among Desertec’s allies is Medgrid – a French-centered consortium proposing to bring 20 GW of climate-friendly solar power from North Africa to Europe via five HVDC submarine cables. Transgreen Transmediterranean Power Grid was set up in July 2010 to study this plan. Six months later, with French government blessing, Transgreen was re-named Medgrid. At the outset Medgrid’s Managing Director stated: “We want to make an agreement with Desertec to promote Information Exchange with the aim to avoid costly duplication of work.” Prominent among the firms present at Medgrid’s launch were Dii shareholders Siemens and Red Electrica.
Another Desertec ally is the World Bank whose role is illuminated in Desertec publications thusly:
“… renewable energy technologies are still too expensive to compete with other forms of power generation on a pure cost basis. Concessional climate financing for MENA developing countries could open the gate to leverage economies of scale and hence drive cost curves globally. The World Bank pointed out how this development is assisted by a growing set of climate finance instruments, in particular the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) supporting the scale-up of concentrated solar power in MENA.”
CTF helps finance international transfers of low-carbon technologies. CTF is mobilizing several billion dollars for solar power plants across the MENA region.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), FEMIP Trust Fund, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the EU’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility are also touted as Desertec funders. Dii claims Desertec is precisely what EIB should assist. Desertec founder Oliver Stienmetz is a senior EIB official. As well, the GEF recently announced an $8 million grant for green energy projects in Algeria.
Another ally, Friends of Supergrid, is a consortium promoting North Sea wind power. Like Desertec, they need a pan-European transmission grid to compensate for the intermittent nature of their electricity.
Dii’s mainchallenge is financing the transmission grid. Environmentalists claim Europe’s entire power grid needs substantial renovation (new cables, systems, and components) to accommodate renewable megaprojects.
Dii’s main political challenge is translating EU’s Renewable Energy Directive into national legislation. The EU is committed to getting 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.This will require over one trillion dollars from sources unknown. The plan is further bedevilled by national fragmentation of Europe’s electricity market. In 2010 the European Commission announced plans to simplify procedures for trans-boundary electricity line construction. EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger will seek EU funding for these lines.
The Renewable Energy Directive allows for importing renewable electricity from non-EU states provided this electricity is generated by installations built after 2009. The next step, for Dii, is to make North African solar power eligible for the Feed-In-Tariffs used to subsidize national renewable electricity ventures. Most EU states only subsidize renewable energy generated on their territory. Dii is seeking ways to facilitate cross-frontier subsidies without running afoul national interests. Oettinger supports Europe-wide Feed-In-Tariffs for North African solar power.
Oettinger was in Algiers in June 2010 inking a deal with Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian energy ministers confirming their shared objective of integrating electricity markets. Much was made of the new 400 kilovolt transmission line linking the three countries. Oettinger predicted Europe would start importing North African solar power by 2015. He described Desertec as a $550 billion megaproject requiring public money. (This contradicts a February 2010 statement from Germany’s Ministry of Economics that Desertec was a private initiative to be financed privately.)
Oettinger’s speech at Dii’s first Annual Conference in (Barcelona, October 2010) stressed: “the European Commission shares the objectives of the Desertec Initiative… I am committed to work towards it together with my partners in Northern Africa.”
At the first German-Arab Energy Forum (Berlin, October 2010) the Arab League’s Secretary General praised German-Arab cooperation in renewable energy. Germany’s State Secretary said Desertec was integral to the “German energy concept.” Germany’s Foreign Office added:
“Europe and the Arab world are natural energy partners. But we have to re-tailor our energy policy. That requires nothing less than an energy revolution on both the supply and demand side.”
Also in Berlin, two weeks later, the Ghorfa Arab-German Chamber of Commerce endorsed Desertec. (The Berlin-based Ghorfa Chamber has promoted economic cooperation between Germany and the Arab world for 30 years. Ghorfa represents Arab chambers of commerce in Germany and is integrated into the “German global organization.”) Ghorfa Secretary, General Abdul-Aziz Al-Mikhail, declared:
“Nearly all Arab governments from Abu Dhabi to Morocco have meanwhile launched ambitious pilot projects for developing regenerative power production. Be it Masdar City (Abu Dhabi), Kuraymat (Egypt) or Desertec: everywhere German technology and know-how are on board.”
(Kuraymat is a $400 million solar/gas hybrid plant south of Cairo with parabolic mirrors covering 130,000 square meters. 20 MW of its 150 MW capacity comes from the solar array; the rest is from gas.)
In July 2010 Dii’s Paul van Son accompanied Germany’s Economic Cooperation Minister to Egypt. Within months Germany’s state development bank (KFW) made a $300 million loan to the Egyptian government for a 200 MW wind farm. (The EC provided a $40 million grant. The EIB extended a $70 million loan. Egypt will contribute $90 million.) At the signing van Son declared, "Desertec is step by step becoming reality.” KFW’s rep added:
"Moreover, the project aims at meeting Egypt's growing power needs and thus making a substantial contribution to climate protection. At the same time the project is an important building block for the Desertec vision.”
Abu Dhabi is building a 100 MW CSP plant. This will be the world’s biggest CSP plant and the first to meet UN Clean Development Mechanism guidelines. This plant will be dwarfed by Dii’s first CSP plant in Ouarzazate, Morocco. Scheduled for groundbreaking in 2012, this $2 billion plant will generate 500 MW.
Morocco’s autocratic King Mohammed VI has decreed:
“Morocco looks forward to exploring, with the European Union, all the opportunities to be created by regional projects, such as DESERTEC, in order to lay the foundations of a well-defined, safe, sustainable Euro-Mediterranean energy policy.”
Morocco’s goal is to be 42% powered by renewable energy by 2020 with 2,000 MW coming from CSP. Morocco is mobilizing $9 billion toward this goal. The World Bank is guaranteeing $750 million for Morocco’s solar plan.
In November 2010 Germany’s Foreign Minister was in Morocco firming up the energy partnership. “Germany and Morocco enjoy excellent relations. We want to further these at the political and, above all, the economic level,” said the Minister, adding, “the Desertec initiative has the potential to become a milestone in energy cooperation.” Germany is giving Morocco $60 million for solar projects.
Moroccan electricity can be transported via an existing line to Spain. Spain is very pro-Desertec. Spain is home to all six of Europe’s CSP plants and is the only country with a power line to Africa. In 2010 the EC allocated $100 million for a CSP research institute in Spain. Spain and France recently agreed to build a HVDC power-link through the Pyrenees. “This transmission line is a jigsaw piece for Desertec,” stated a Siemens exec, “but it is still by far not sufficient.”
In November 2010 Dii and Tunisia’s state power utility (STEG) began feasibility studies for solar and wind megaprojects. STEG expressed a desire to become a Dii shareholder. At the same time DF and the Tunisian Scientific Research Council launched the Desertec University Network in conjunction with 18 regional universities.
Also in November 2010 environment ministers from all 16 German states endorsed Dii and asked Germany’s federal government to push Desertec on the European level. On the same day, the European Parliament called on the EC and all Member States to endorse Desertec. On December 8 German Chancellor Merkel declared: “We have high interest in Desertec becoming reality.” German motives are not inscrutable. Climate Change malarkey notwithstanding, Desertec promoters claim:
“An enormous order volume for the companies involved in the construction of the solar-thermal power plants, wind parks and HVDC transmission lines as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry and competitive energy can be produced in a few years due to technical improvements and falling costs in mass production of solar-thermal power plants, wind farms and HVDC transmission lines.”
The Club of Rome, Bertelsmann AG, and Liz Mohn
Giovanni Agnelli was born unto Piedmont’s gentry in 1866. After serving as an officer in the King’s cavalry he was recruited by Count di Cacherano into the founding partnership of the Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino (Fiat). Mussolini rewarded Agnelli’s early support of Fascism with an appointment to the Senate in 1923. Agnelli held many prestigious positions in Fascist Italy while supervising Fiat’s substantial contribution to the Axis war effort. The Allies forced him to retire from Fiat but allowed him to retain ownership and to appoint his successor. He died in 1945.
Today the sprawling, secretive Agnelli dynasty owns 30% of Fiat and an appreciable percentage of the entire Italian stock market. They may own a controlling interest in Club Med. Their net worth is somewhere between $2 and $7 billion. They remain political. Susanna Agnelli, Contessa Rattazzi (1922-2009) was Italy’s first female Foreign Minister. She was a loyal fan of Robert Denning who designed 15 homes for her in Manhattan, South America, and Italy.
In 1968 the Agnelli Foundation (est. 1966) summoned 30 academics and bureaucrats to a two-day brain-stormer at Rome’s Accademia dei Lincei. The conference was chaired by Piedmont-born Aurelio Peccei (1908-1984) – a faithful servant of the House of Agnelli since 1930. (He was Fiat’s point man in South America for decades. In 1964 when the Agnellis took over Olivetti, they placed Peccei at the helm. They also deployed Peccei to run ItalConsult – a non-profit involved in Third World development.) The purpose of the Accademia dei Lincei conference was to discuss global problems. The meeting led to the formation of the Club of Rome.
In 1968 Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003) controlled 4% of Italy's GDP, 3% of its industrial workforce, and 17% of its industrial research budget. Gianni was named after his grandfather. His father Edoardo died in an airplanecrash in the early 1940s. Gianni’s mother, Virginia Bourbon del Monte, was the daughter of the Prince of San Faustino. Gianni volunteered for a tank regiment as soon as Italy entered WWII and was twice wounded on the Russian Front. He then served in a Fiat-built armored-car division in North Africa. After Italy surrendered, he became a liaison officer for the US Army. In 1953 he married Neapolitan noblewoman Donna di Castagneto. Their only son, Edoardo, who was more interested in mystics than cars (he studied religion at Princeton and participated in the world day of eco-prayer in Assisi) committed suicide in 2000.
Gianni formed close friendships with international bankers and politicos through the Bilderberg conferences he attended religiously since 1958. Bilderberg regular David Rockefeller appointed Gianni to Chase Manhattan Bank’s International Advisory Committee where he sat for 30 years.
Bertelsmann AG was founded in 1835 by Carl Bertelsmann, a printer of Lutheran hymnals, prayer books, and a faith-based Westphalia newspaper. Carl benefited from, and contributed to, a revivalist wave (The Great Awakening) then sweeping Germany. When Carl's son Heinrich took over in 1851, he continued aligning the printing business with conservative activism. He also branched into publishing novels. Heinrich’s only surviving child, Fredericka, married Bertelsmann employee Johannes Mohn. In 1881 Mohn took over the company while preserving its political orientation.
Johannes’ son, Heinrich, hitched Bertelsmann to National Socialism. The company’s ensuing rise was based on this alignment. Bertelsmann published numerous books with volkisch and anti-Semitic content. The Nazi author Hans Grimm was a Bertelsmann favourite as was Nazi poet, Will Vesper, who joined Bertelsmann in 1932, in time to pen the commemorative speech for the 1933 mass book burning. Heinrich Mohn’s personal church was pro-Nazi, as was Bertelsmann’s in-house theologian, Paul Althaus. Heinrich was an early donor to the Nazi Party, and both he and his son Reinhard were SS members.
By 1939 Bertelsmann had 400 employees. By 1943 Bertelsmann was the Third Reich’s No.1 publisher; selling 19 million copies and raking in exorbitant profits. This was facilitated by outsourcing printing to occupied Holland and Eastern Europe where they used slaves. Bertelsmann was the biggest producer of Nazi propaganda and the biggest supplier of armed forces literary editions including many texts of a volkisch-nationalistic and anti-Semitic bent.
Immediately after WWII, Bertelsmann printed schoolbooks commissioned by the British military. Reinhard Mohn, who was not as tainted as his father, took over the company in 1947. Reinhard had been a lieutenant in Rommel's Afrika Korps. Captured in Tunisia, he sat out the remainder of the war in a POW camp in Kansas.
Among Reinhard’s innovations was his 1962 creation of the Círculo de Lectores in Barcelona. This book club quickly gained an outstanding reputation. Today, Círculo is a cultural institution patronized by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. Bertelsmann also owns the Spanish publisher Plaza y Janes.
Reinhard’s push into the US began with a 1977 purchase of 51% of Bantam Books (increased to 100% in 1980). He bought Doubleday in 1986 and opened a Corporate Center in New York City in 1987. In 1998, he took over publishing giant Random House.
Closely tracking Reinhard was Westphalia aristocrat and publisher Georg von Holtzbrinck (1909-1983). Georg was a Nazi Student League activist in 1931 and a Party member soon after. His publishing business benefited enormously from his Party contacts. During the Third Reich’s death throes, Georg volunteered for the Wehrmacht. After the war he was condemned and fined by the denazification commission, but was back publishing by 1948.
The Holtzbrinck media empire has been divided among Georg’s three children. In the 1980s they began accumulating key English language assets. They own such famous imprints as Palgrave, Macmillan, Henry Holt, and St. Martin’s Press. They purchased Scientific American in 1986 and Nature in 1995. These latter two companies produce over a dozen monthlies, supplements, and online editions reaching millions of scientifically involved people. The Holtzbrincks also own a stable of German newspapers with a combined daily readership of over two million.
Dieter Holtzbrinck quit the board of Dow Jones when it was rumoured News Corp was attempting to acquire the company. News Corp is one of the few media conglomerates airing climate scepticism. Dieter denounced News Corp’s lack of journalistic integrity. In 2008 Nature endorsed Obama for President, on scientific grounds.
Limits to Growth (1972) was commissioned by the Club of Rome and written by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors whose computer models predicted economic growth could not continue because of scarcity of natural resources, particularly oil. The book’s “provocative scenarios” raised phobias of finite resources to the top of the global agenda. Limits to Growth sold 12 million copies.
While many National Associations of the Club of Rome sprang up in the 1980s and 1990s, the overall influence of the Club diminished. The Club blamed their decline on prevailing perceptions that global problems could be solved through the “Magic of the Marketplace.” The Club also suffered from competition with other civil society initiatives and a failure to attract youth.
The Club’s The First Global Revolution (1993) claimed people needed common enemies, real or invented, to unite them. In recounting the Club’s history, the authors wrote:
“In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.”
Today the Club self-describes as a global non-profit society promoting interdisciplinary analysis, dialogue, and action. They disclaim any political or religious ideology. The Club is engaged in a range of activities in different countries through its international agencies, individual members, and 33 National Associations. The Club brags about its access to leading personalities and of its ability to inject proposals into the policy process at the highest level. The Club partners with UNESCO, OECD, GLOBE International, and a myriad of NGOs. They issue targeted policy briefings for international decision-makers. Their main issues are: Climate Change, resource depletion, ecosystem destruction, and sustainable development.
The “Exploring the Issues” section of the Club’s website divides 58 current Club publications into five categories: globalization (14 publications), international development (13), social transformation (5), peace/security (5), and environment/resources (21). All publications in the last category are standard enviro-propaganda tracts. Of the other publications 26 deal with enviro-issues such as decarbonisation, peak oil, and climate security. Many publications are authored by green heavyweights like Rajendra Pauchauri, James Hansen, and Mohan Munasinge.
Total membership in all Club associations is 1,800. At the Club’s core are about 125 Full, Honorary and/or Associate Members. The Club also has a think tank, tt30, of carefully selected young activists. Club expenses are met internally from a variety of sources including member contributions.
The Club’s General Assembly meets annually to strategize and to elect an Executive Committee. The Club’s Co-Presidents are Dr. Ashok Khosla (India) and Dr. Eberhard von Koerber (Germany). Club VPs are Professor Heitor de Souza (Brazil) and Dr. Anders Wijkman (Sweden). Wijkman is the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Sustainable Development.
At the 2007 General Assembly (Madrid) the Club relocated its International Secretariat to the Apollo House office block in Winterthur, Switzerland, which they enjoy rent-free courtesy of Swiss land magnate Robert Heuberger. Weeks later (November 2007) Club leaders met privately in Berlin with German President Koehler to discuss “policy challenges in the next phase of globalization.” This meeting “enabled the Club to make a rapid start with its new programme.” The Club’s new manifesto, New Path for World Development (2008), is a litany of eco-scares, none more pressing than Climate Change.
In addition to its Winterthur HQ, the Club also has a European Support Centre, in Vienna, to support and coordinate the activities of its 22 European National Associations. Further euro-centralization is achieved through the Club’s EU Chapter in Brussels.
The EU Chapter builds bridges between Belgian high society, EU institutions, and the Club and: “act(s) as a catalyst of reflection on sustainable development in Europe.” The Chapter’s Honorary President is Belgium’s Crown Prince. Other members include: Count Michel Didisheim (King Baudouin Foundation), Viscount Mark Eyskens (Minister of State, former Belgian Prime Minister), Baron André Jaumotte (Rector of University of Brussels), and Hans-Gert Pottering (MEP, former President of the European Parliament).
Another EU Chapter member is Baron Daniel Janssen – of the 500-member multi-billionaire Janssen dynasty. Baron Daniel was CEO and Chair of Solvay SA for 20 years and remains its Honorary Chair. He is on the steering committee of the Trilateral Commission. His family owns vast land holdings in and around Brussels and has controlling interest in a number of pharmaceutical concerns.
A June 2008 conference, co-sponsored by the Club of Rome and the Aurelio Peccei Foundation brought several hundred notables to the Rome Auditorium to hear eminent speakers lecture on “Strategies for a Sustainable Planet.” Weeks later the Club held a lecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). The lecture, by Rajendra Pachauri (Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), was followed by a panel discussion with reps from the Club and ETH. The event was opened by ETH’s Rector.
In April 2009 the Club held a two-day conference of 35 experts in Vienna to clarify the causes of the world’s conjoined economic and environmental crises. The conference was convened by Austria’s President, who opened the discussion, and was financed by the Austrian National Bank, in whose offices it was held. Among the participants were: Rt. Hon Elliot Morley M.P. (British Prime Minister’s advisor on Climate Change and Chair of the Global Legislators Forum), Dr. Munasinghe (Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Bo Ekman (Chair of the Tallberg Foundation), and Alexander Nekipelov (Russian Academy of Sciences VP). Conference conclusions were presented to 100 senior European legislators at a Global Legislators Forum meeting held in Italy’s Senate Chambers. Conference conclusions were also conveyed, by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, to the G8 meeting in 2009 in preparation for the UN’s upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference.
Of the Club’s 125 top members, 18 are Germans and 16 are from Spain. Other notables are Queen Beatrix (Netherlands), Peter Blom (CEO of Triodos Bank), Alexander Likothal (President of Green Cross International), Roberto Peccei (President of Aurrelio Peccei Foundation and Vice Chancellor for Research at University of California, Los Angeles), Richard von Weizsacker (former German President), M. Singh (Indian Prime Minister), Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Havel, Lord George Weidenfeld (philanthropist/publisher), and Global Warming pioneer Sir Crispin Tickell. Several Club members are former or current executives of UN agencies.
The Club’s two most substantive National Associations are the German and the Spanish. The latter’s core members are King Juan Carlos I and Queen Dona Sophia. The 14 other Spaniards in the Club’s elite include two reps from each of Spain’s two largest financial institutions and several reps from Spain’s largest foundations.
When Liz met Reinhard she was a single 17-year-old Bertelsmann switch-board operator and he was the company’s married 38-year-old owner. She was his mistress for years but they finally married in 1982. They had three children. Reinhard’s death in 2009 left her in control of Bertelsmann AG.
81% of Bertelsmann AG shares are held by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Reinhard Mohn Foundation. 19% are held by the Mohn family. (Share ownership is elsewhere given as 77% Foundations, 23% Mohn family.) Liz Mohn is the Vice-Chair of Bertelsmann Foundation and Chair of Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft (BVG). Brigitte Mohn is on the Bertelsmann Foundation board and is a BVG shareholder. Christoph Mohn is the Reinhard Mohn Foundation CEO and a BVG shareholder. BVG controls the Mohns’ and the Foundations’ voting shares – 100% of voting shares in Bertelsmann AG. Joining the Mohns on Bertelsmann’s boards are reps from BMW, BASF, E.ON, and Merck.
Bertelsmann AG is based in Gütersloh, Germany but operates in 63 countries. Bertelsmann has 102,000 employees (37,000 in Germany). In 2009 company revenues were $20 billion. Geographically revenues are distributed thusly: U.S. (13%), Germany (35%), Europe excluding Germany (48%), others (4%). Profits fell during the recession to $50 million from a 2006 high of $3 billion.
Bertelsmann’s 500 subsidiaries are clustered into five businesses: Gruner + Jahr, Random House, RTL Group, Arvato, and Direct Group.
From plants in Germany and the US, Gruner + Jahr print 285 magazines and newspapers for distribution in 20 countries. G+J is Europe’s leading magazine publisher. In France, one in two people regularly read one or more of the 19 French G+J magazines. G+J publishes five major German newspapers including Financial Times Deutschland. G+J has 13,571 employees. G+J is 75% owned by Bertelsmann and 25% by the Jahr family.
Random House (100% Bertelsmann-owned) is the world’s largest general interest book publisher. RH publishes 11,000 new books each year and sells 500 million copies. RH owns 120 publishing imprints in 19 countries including Bantam, Doubleday, and Alfred A. Knopf (USA); and Ebury and Transworld (UK).
RTL (90% Bertelsmann-owned), Europe's largest broadcasting company, has television and radio stations in ten countries. Each day, 170 million Europeans watch RTL TV channels. RTL radio stations are among Europe's most popular. RTL produces more than 10,000 hours of television programs per year including primetime drama, serial drama, entertainment, factual, and comedy. RTL has 12,500 employees, revenues of $8 billion (2009).
Arvato (100% Bertelsmann-owned) is one of the world’s biggest communications services providers. Arvato’s 60,000 employees provide printing, mobile, and digital services.
Direct Group (100% Bertelsmann-owned) is a mail order service with 15 million customers. Direct Group owns a Europe-wide chain of bookstores operating under various names. Direct Group has 10,000 employees.
Bertelsmann AG “strongly believes that environmental protection is part of its corporate responsibility” and “regards Climate Change and environmental protection as central issues in our business and in society.” At Bertelsmann “we strive to reduce our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions as part of our overall drive to limit our environmental impact” and “we expect our divisions to take responsibility for sustainable management contributing to climate and environmental protection.”
When Reinhard Mohn founded Bertelsmann Foundation (BF) in 1977, he transferred to it majority ownership of Bertelsmann AG. Since 1977 BF has invested around $1 billion in several hundred projects. Much of this money has gone to libraries and to institutes that study and influence the media. BF’s over 500 online articles on the “environment” contain much questioning of economic growth and market economics. BF promotes the “social market economy.” Highlights of the BF’s history include:
In 1987, to further German-Spanish dialogue, BF and Fundación Santillana launched a series of symposia, held alternatively in Gütersloh and in Santillana del Mar, attended by influential people.
In 1992 Gorbachev came begging and did not leave empty-handed. He founded Green Cross International a few months later.
In 1993 BF and the Club of Rome co-hosted the “Europe and its New Responsibilities” conference. This event fused a lasting alliance between the two institutions. Reinhard joined the Club of Rome in 1996. Liz joined in 1999 and remains a full and active member.
In 1995 BF launched the "Europe and the Middle East" initiative to forge trans-Mediterranean partnerships. The inaugural event, co-sponsored by Munich University, hosted experts from the Arab world and Europe for a two-day conference, which is now an annual event.
In 1997, inspired by Al Gore (a Random House man), BF joined the German Marshall Fund.
In 1998 Reinhard accepted the Spanish Royal family's Prince of Asturias Award. A few years later King Juan Carlos presented Liz with the Grand Cross of the Order for Civil Merit.
In 2006 BF began publishing evaluations of country on the new Sustainable Governance Index. Using this methodology in 2009 BF noted that Germany was well positioned to face globalization but, compared to Scandinavia, had shortcomings.
BF began Salzburg Trilogues in 2004. Early participants included: EU commissioners, the Polish Prime Minister, an advisor to Morocco's King Mohammed VI, Club of Rome President (Prince Hassan), and BASF’s and BP’s Chairmen. The first Trilogue was not enviro-focused but subsequent ones were.
2009 Salzburg Trilogue participants included: Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Daniel Barenboim (Barenboim Said Foundation), Peter Blom (Club of Rome, Triodos Bank), Aart des Geus (OECD), Bo Ekman (Taellberg Foundation), Jerome Glenn (Millennium Project), Martin Lees (Club of Rome), Jean-Pierre Lehmann (Evian Group), Alexander Likhotal (Club of Rome, Green Cross), and Veit Sorger (Austrian Industrial Association). Participants agreed:
“… today's crises are fundamentally related to the issue of sustainability, in that the way humanity currently lives and works is not only eroding the world's natural resources, it is also destabilizing social cohesion.”
Their agreed-upon solution was: “a worldwide consensus on globally valid sustainability principles and a new notion of qualitative growth.”
The 2010 Salzburg Trilogue, co-hosted by the Austrian government, contemplated a new economic order no longer based on growth but on reductions in environmental footprint. This new order required redefining prosperity and increasing the importance of spiritual well-being.
The Desertec Industrial Initiative and the European Eco-Industrial Complex
Understanding Desertec and European environmentalism in general, requires an investigation of the business enterprises with a stake in this project and this movement.
Desertec Industrial Initiative’s (Dii) founding shareholders were: ABB, ABENGOA Solar, Cevital, Deutsche Bank, E.ON, Nordbank, Solar Millennium, Munich RE, M+W, RWE, SCHOTT Solar, and Siemens. By October 2010 the following new shareholders were on board: Enel, Flagsol, NAREVA, Red Eléctrica, Saint-Gobain Solar, and TERNA.
160-year-old SIEMENS is an electronics, engineering, energy, and healthcare firm with 405,000 employees (128,000 in Germany). In 2010 Siemens netted $5.5 billion off revenues of $100 billion.
Siemens generates $40 billion annually from eco-tech products and services. Their Environmental Portfolio receives most of their $5 billion annual R&D budget. Recent breakthroughs include the world’s first 800 kilovolt HVDC transmission line. This 1,400 kilometre line from Yunnan Province to the cities of the Pearl River Delta has transmission losses 50% lower than comparable alternating-current systems. Other Siemens’ eco-breakthroughs involve smart grids and CO2 separation.
Siemens manufactures seven types of wind turbine. To date they have installed 9,000 turbines worldwide with a total output of 11,500 MW. They are world leaders in offshore wind power (1,400 MW from 16 projects). Their most vaunted turbine, but not their largest, is a 2.3 MW unit with a rotor blade 101 meters in diameter. This model is ideal for the slow breezes common off the North African coast.
Siemens supplies all components for parabolic trough solar power plants, and they are the global leader in steam turbine generators for such plants. They built a 50 MW solar thermal power plant in Lebrija, Spain. Siemens is developing the use of salt as a heat store for night-time power generation. Their recently acquired stake in Italian solar specialist Archimede adds more innovative technology to their solar thermal menu. Siemens also builds and services photovoltaic farms on a turnkey basis.
“Electric cars powered from renewable energy sources are the world’s most eco-friendly means of transport.”
Siemens’ electric car unit is working on rapid battery rechargers and vehicle-to-grid communications technology.
Siemens’ 2010 Annual Report (“Sustainability, our Founding Principle”) contains the following gems:
“Our understanding of sustainability is deeply rooted in our company's history and closely linked to our values. More than a century ago, Werner von Siemens insisted that his company fulfill its responsibilities to its employees, to society and to nature…”
“The scientific consensus is clear: our climate is changing.”
“Drastic measures will be required to limit the rise in global temperature to a maximum of 2° Celsius.”
“Climate Change and soaring energy demand worldwide will transform energy systems: an ever-larger share of energy needs will be covered by renewable sources. Developments in electro-mobility, for example, will further stimulate demand for carbon-free power generation. The market for renewable energies is expected to grow 12% a year for the next decade. The market for offshore wind farms alone is expected to grow by more than 20% a year for the next five years. Growth in the demand for solar power is also expected to be substantial.”
At their 2010 shareholder’s meeting, CEO Peter Loscher declared: “Today, more than ever before, our world needs pioneering efforts – pioneering efforts like the Desertec project.”
Siemens praises Desertec’s ability to: “leverage the enormous potential of solar-thermal power plants in the Sahara and of wind farms in the Mediterranean region to produce carbon-free electricity”.
Siemens’ Chair, Gerhard Cromme, is also Chair of Thyssen Krupp. He is on the board of 25 universities, foundations and companies (Allianz SE, Axel Springer, etc). Another Siemens director, Josef Ackermann, is CEO of Deutsche Bank and a board member of 20 companies including Shell and Bayer. Fellow board member Francisco Belil is CEO of Siemens South West Europe and heads the Spanish arm of Bayer. Also on board are the CEO of Allianz and a former executive of E.ON.
Joining them is Lord Vallance, the former head of British Telecom. Thomas is on the European Advisory Council of the Rothschild Group and the International Advisory Board of Allianz. He is a Director of Mobil and Royal Bank of Scotland. He chairs both the European Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange and the House of Lords’ Committee on Economic Affairs.
MUNICH RE is an insurance company. In 2009 they collected premiums of $55 billion and made a profit of $4 billion. Munich Re has 47,000 employees. Munich Re is one of the world's leading insurers of insurance companies (re-insurance). A subsidiary, ERGO, is Europe’s largest primary insurance company with 40 million clients. Another subsidiary, Munich Health, employs 5,000 experts at 26 locations. Munich Re owns assets of $250 billion and manages another $12 billion for clients. 10% of Munich Re is owned by Warren Buffet. 90% is owned by institutional investors and banks.
Munich Re sees a strong connection between recent extreme weather events and Climate Change. Munich Re Foundation Chair, Thomas Loster, notes positively: “With global warming showing its strong effects worldwide, the discussion on adaptation and insurance is intensifying.”
Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII), launched in 2005, brings together insurers, climate experts, and NGOs to study Climate Change risks. MCII’s founders were Munich Re, Munich Re Foundation, Potsdam Climate Institute, European Climate Forum, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UN University’s Institute for Environment, and the World Bank.
At the 2008 UN Climate Conference in Posnan, MCII pitched a two-tiered climate insurance policy. The first tier would cover high-level climate disaster losses in developing countries with premiums ($4 billion a year) paid by developed countries. The second tier would enable private insurers to cover middle-layer risks for developing countries provided the insurers are given annual public subsidies of $3 billion.
In 2010 Munich Re CEO Nikolaus von Bomhard spoke at the Digital – Life – Design Conference (a three-day Munich confab of 800 entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists, scientists, and artists). He stressed renewable energies, Climate Change, and Desertec:
“…the insurance industry – and Munich Re in particular – has been instrumental in ensuring that the message concerning Climate Change is received loud and clear by politicians, industry, and society as a whole… Munich Re has been a driving force behind the “Desertec Industrial Initiative” (Dii), a visionary plan to exploit the sun’s energy on a grand scale to supply power to Europe and Africa, thus making a major contribution to combating Climate Change.”
Bomhard sits on the board of Commerz Bank and Ludwig-Maximilians University (Munich). In 2007 WWF-Germany named him Eco-Manager of the Year.
On Munich Re’s board sits Siemens’ Peter Loscher and Peter Gross, President of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science. The board also has reps from SAP and Volkswagen.
ABENGOA SOLAR is a small politically active Spanish firm launched in 1984. For 20 years it did solar power R&D for Spain and the EU. In 2004 it transitioned to commercial production, building medium-sized solar power plants in several European countries. They are currently constructing plants in Algeria, Morocco, and the USA. Abengoa is helping build a 250 MW plant in California’s Mojave Desert.
Abengoa sees Desertec as a way to protect Earth from Climate Change. They contend there is scientific consensus that recent extreme weather events are caused by CO2 emissions. Abengoa has partnerships with 15 universities and memberships in four solar lobby groups.
SAINT GOBAIN SOLAR is the solar arm of French conglomerate Saint Gobain. The parent company, founded 1665, has annual sales over $50 billion and 200,000 employees. They manufacture construction and packaging materials, mainly glass and ceramics, which they distribute through their 4,000 retail outlets across Europe. Saint Gobain Solar targets the rooftop and farmyard PV solar panel market.
SCHOTT SOLAR is a German company focused on the rooftop PV market.
M+W is a Stuttgart-based engineering firm with 4,500 employees. M+W is a subsidiary of Stumpf Group of Vienna (high tech, renewable energy, real estate). Last year M+W received $2 billion in orders for work in electronics, photovoltaics, and energy.
FLAGSOL is a German-based joint venture 75%-owned by Solar Millennium and 25%-owned by Ferrostaal. The company’s seminal R&D was done in the USA in the 1980s. Today Flagsol builds 50-to-250 MW solar thermal power plants. They provided the technology for Spain’s first parabolic trough power plants (Andasol plants). They built the solar array for Egypt’s Kuraymat hybrid plant. Their experimental Helio Trough collector is being tested in the USA.
Zurich-based ABB self-describes as a “global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact.”
ABB’s 116,000 employees are spread across five divisions: Power Products, Power Systems, Discrete Automation, Process Automation, and Low Voltage Products. ABB assures: “Sustainability is integral to all aspects of our business.”
In 2009 ABB received orders of $31 billion and invested $1.3 billion in R&D. ABB’s seven research centres employ 6,000 engineers and technicians and collaborate with 70 universities. Among their new products are: solar inverters, HVDC systems, and remote switching units for solar farms (which won the 2010 Intersolar Award at Munich’s world solar power exhibition). In 2010 ABB completed both a 2,000-kilometer HVDC line in China and the world’s longest submarine HVDC link (Norway to Netherlands). ABB provided free recharging for electric cars used by potentates attending the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos.
On ABB’s board are Roger Agnelli (CEO of the Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale) and reps from Ericson, IBM, and Dresdner Bank.
CEVITAL is an Algerian food conglomerate (sugar, vegetable oil) with annual sales of $4 billion.
RED ELECTRICA (RE) was the first company dedicated exclusively to electricity transmission. In 1985 it took over Spain’s grid before the global trend toward segregation of production and transmission. RE was a global role model. RE is Spain’s sole electricity transmission provider. 80% of RE stock is publically traded. 20% is held by Spain’s State Industrial Holding Company.
In 2004 RE became the first business to obtain environmental certification for its electricity transport activities. RE has three publications dealing with bird protection.
RE is one of 40 institutions adhering to the Spanish government’s Memorandum for Promotion of Electric Vehicles. RE has nine electric car recharging depots at its corporate facilities. RE believes electric cars will reduce Spain’s oil dependency.
RE recently lowered three 230-kilometer submarine HVDC cables between the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, using the Skagerrak – one of only two ships in the world capable of such tasks.
NAREVA, the energy arm of Morocco’s ONA Group, recently announced plans to construct a $313 million 200 MW wind farm as part of Morocco's plan to reduce reliance on imported fuel. The project is one of five planned wind farms (total capacity 2000 MW) to be paired with five solar farms (2000 MW).
ONA (Omnium Nord-Africain), Morocco’s biggest conglomerate, is active in banking, insurance, food, fish, supermarkets, tourism, telecommunication, and copper mining. In 2007, ONA’s revenues were $4.5 billion. ONA has 25,000 employees. In 2010 ONA was reabsorbed by its parent company, National Investments (owned by the Moroccan Royal family), and delisted from all stock exchanges.
NORDBANK arose from a 2003 merger of two north German banks. (A substantial minority interest is owned by J.C. Flowers Corp.) Nordbank has assets of $210 billion and 3,400 full-time employees. Nordbank is a leader in the high-end corporate market in northern Germany and is a major provider of real estate finance throughout Germany. They boast a particular know-how in looking after foundations. They are the world’s leading provider of ship finance.
Nordbank is a top financier of wind and solar energy projects; especially in north Germany. Their energy portfolio is 66% wind and 33% solar. In the last several years they financed two dozen renewable energy projects. Several of these loans were for over $100 million. These projects are located across Europe but are mostly in Germany and Spain.
RWE’s 70,000 employees supply 16 million customers with electricity and eight million with gas. 2009 revenues were $64 billion. RWE is the No. 1 power producer in Germany, No. 2 in the Netherlands, and No. 3 in the UK. RWE is controlled by several German institutional investors. In 2002 RWE began buying energy assets in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. RWE is targeting gas production in North Africa and the Caspian region. They began importing liquid natural gas by ship from Egypt in 2011. They are planning gas pipelines from Iraq and Egypt.
RWE is investing $10 billion annually in “environmentally friendly” activities including Carbon Capture and Storage. Over $1 billion per year is going towards wind and biomass. This push into renewables dates to 2008. Current RWE energy production by source is: 61% coal, 18% nuke, 16% gas, 4% renewable. They hope to be 75% low-or-no CO2 by 2025 primarily through switching from coal to gas. RWE has five nuclear reactors in Germany (three are joint ventures with E.ON).
While solar thermal does not figure prominently in their plans, RWE is co-owner of Spain’s Andasol plants. Their solar portfolio is dwarfed by their recent investments in wind power such as their two offshore British projects – one with 140 and the other with 160 Siemens turbines.
RWE built a prototype electric car in 1981. By 2013 they will have a network of electric car recharging stations across Germany.
At the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, RWE CEO Juergen Grossmann took part in a panel discussion entitled “Fostering Climate Protection” hosted by the Federation of German Industries. He called for worldwide CO2 emissions trading, a global market for carbon, and a strengthened UN Clean Development Mechanism.
RWE’s Chairman sits on numerous boards including Volkswagen’s. RWE’s Supervisory Board has reps from Bayer, Daimler, Allianz, and Deutche Bank.
Dusseldorf-based E.ON, with assets of $200 billion and 88,000 employees, is the world’s largest privately owned energy service provider. E.ON has recently purchased gas and power companies in Eastern Europe and 6% of Russia’s Gazprom.
E.ON invests in all kinds of renewable energy. E.ON co-owns, with Abengoa Solar, the Helio 1 and 2 solar thermal power plants near Seville. These 50 MW plants cost $750 million to build.
ENEL is Italy's largest power company (Europe's second largest). Enel’s 95,000 MW of installed capacity services 60 million customers across 40 countries. Enel is Italy’s second-largest natural gas supplier with 2.7 million customers. Enel has more shareholders (1.2 million) than any other Italian firm. Enel claims to be the world’s greenest corporation.
In 1984 Enel began collaborations with enviro-NGOs, notably with the WWF to create the Vulci nature park around a hydroelectric flood on the Fiora River. Also in 1984 Enel pioneered renewable energy with a wind power plant (ten small turbines) and a photovoltaic array (80 kW).In 1993, Enel hosted the “E7 Summit” in Florence whereat seven global power companies resolved to develop a common environmentalist strategy. (The group is now called e8.) In 1995 Enel completed a 3 MW solar farm (then the world’s largest) and three wind farms including a 60 turbine operation. In 2001 US-based CHI Energy (acquired by Enel in 2000) built a 30 MW wind farm in the USA and a 23 MW biomass plant in Canada. Today, Enel owns 600 renewable power plants around the globe with total capacity of 5,900 MW. Enel invests over $1 billion a year on renewable energy and emissions reduction.
In 1999 Enel divided its Italian production and transmission assets. The transmission assets were privatized into TERNA – Europe’s largest independent grid operator with over 62,000 kilometers of lines. Terna joined Dii in September 2010.
An even newer Dii shareholder is Italian-based UNICREDIT – a bank with 9,600 branches and 161,000 employees. They have a presence in 50 countries but are concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe where they are the largest banking network. Upon joining Dii (February 2011) UniCredit stated:
“We chose to become shareholders of Dii as a further step within our comprehensive sustainability strategy and to give our contribution to fight Climate Change.”
Next to join will probably be the French nuclear firm AREVA, which recently purchased a supplier for solar thermal power plants (for $225 million), and has indicated support for Desertec.
There is another raft of companies who, while not Dii shareholders, are formally committed to Desertec. These are Desertec’s “associate partners”:
3M, AGC , Audi, BASF, Bearing Point, Commerz Bank, Concentrux Solar, Conergy, Deloitte, Dow, Evonik, FCC, GL, HSBC, IBM, ILF, Intesa San Paulo, Italgen, Kaefer, Lahmeyer International, Mauri Solaire, Max-Plank-Gesellschaft, Morgan Stanley, Nur Energy, OMV, Bosch, Schaeffer Gruppe, SP, SMA Solar, and TUV.
This is hardly a full directory of the world’s, or even Europe’s, “eco-industrial complex.” Another cluster of exclusively German companies, and German subsidiaries of multinationals, are members of Econsence (a.k.a. German Business Forum for Sustainable Development). Econsense was created, in 2000, by the German Federation of Industries whose President remains Econsense’s spokesman. Econsense’s mission statement commits all members to activism around Climate Change and environmental sustainability. Almost all Econsense publications deal with Climate Change, bio-diversity, bio-fuels, and sustainable development. Econsense members are:
Evonik Industries, Heidelberg Cement, KPMG, Linde AG, Price Waterhouse, RWE, Siemens, Tetra Pak, Thyssen Krupp, TUI, Chemical Industry Association, Vodafone AG, Volkswagen, Allianz, BASF, Bayer, BMW, Robert Bosch, Deloitte, German Railways, Deutsche Bank, Lufthansa, Du Pont (Germany), En BW, E.ON, Ernst and Young, and German Stock Exchange.
Econsense’s membership overlaps with its sister organizations, the 200 member World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the 65-member Corporate Social Responsibility Europe.
WBCSD is a CEO-led, global association dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development. 89 WBCSD members are European (14 from Germany), 39 are American, and 25 are Japanese. WBSCD’s main focus areas are ecosystems and climate/energy.
The WBSCD was formed in 1995 when the World Industry Council for the Environment and the Business Council for Sustainable Development merged. The latter group consisted of 48 business leaders captained by Swiss industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny who played a leading role in rallying businesses to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. WBSCDis headquartered in Geneva. Bjorn Stigson has been President since 1995 and currently has a staff of 50. Despite its small size, some consider WBSCD to be the world’s most influential environmental movement organization.
The Deutsche Bank - McKitrick Controversy
2010 witnessed a sharp exchange between climate skeptic Professor Ross McKitrick and Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Reportage around this exchange brought rare scrutiny onto Deutsche Bank’s climate activism. The exchange was provoked by the Earth Institute’s publication of Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments – a booklet commissioned by Deutsche Bank.
With assets of $2 trillion, Deutsche Bank (DB) is one of the world’s largest banks. Of DB’s 1,964 branches, 961 are in Germany. Of its 77,000 employees, 27,000 are in Germany.
DB’s exposure to environmental ventures is the subject of estimates. A 2010 WWF article referred to DB’s “$7 billion in climate investments.” The Financial Post and Reuters recently reported on DB’s “$5 billion in renewable projects.” In March 2009 DB’s Climate Change Advisors claimed $4 billion in “climate change investments.” There are other environmental investments besides climate ones.
DB’s “Banking on Green” brochure lists nine DB departments “investing in sustainability.” DB’s Global Markets’ division, which employs 6,000 professionals in 39 trading rooms around the world, “provides strategic advice to environmental technology and renewable energy companies.”
DB Asset Finance & Leasing has a subdivision pitching “renewable energy projects in emerging regions.”
DB Private Wealth Management, among other things, provides loans for rooftop solar panels and markets green investment funds involved in: “photovoltaic facilities in the sunniest regions of Europe, globally diversified portfolios of forest stands, forest management and timber industry, investments in listed climate protection and green-tech companies, as well as investments in green buildings.”
DB’s carbon operations provide clients with streamlined processes similar to traditional asset classes.
DB Climate Change Advisors is “one of the leading climate change investors in the world” and boasts “we are recognized as an investment industry thought-leader on a broad range of climate change topics.”
DB Climate Change Advisors is not to be mistaken for DB’s Climate Advisory Board – an internal group advising DB. Sitting on this star chamber one finds: Lord John Browne (former CEO of BP and a pioneer corporate climate activist), John Coomber (Swiss Re director and The Climate Group’s Chairman), Amory Lovins (Rocky Mountain Institute founder), Baron Oxburgh (an official in four alternative energy concerns and Chair of East Anglia University’s ‘Climategate’ inquiry), Hans Schellnhuber (founding director of the Potsdam Climate Institute), and the ubiquitous Klaus Topfer and Rajendra Pachauri.
DB is a major underwriter of solar power. They were lead financier of the world’s largest photovoltaic park (Spain’s SPEX) and they coordinated the world’s largest initial public offering for a solar company ($500 million for SMA Solar). DB is a proud founder of Desertec.
With so many DB departments involved in enviro-banking, DB established an internal “Greentech Network” to allow managers to strategize and exchange experiences.
DB’s website is littered with statements like:
“Our climate is changing. The scientific evidence is clear: our planet is getting warmer.”
“By 2100, surface temperatures could be 5.1 degrees Celsius higher.”
“Fundamental trends like Climate Change, population growth and scarcity of resources are set to define the coming decades – and will not only entail a large amount of capital spending but also interesting new investment opportunities.”
“The future belongs to renewable energy. Wind, biomass, solar, hydraulic and geothermal energy – all of these can make an important contribution to protecting the earth's climate.”
Founded in Prussia, 1870, DB took over competitors to become Germany’s main financier of steel, electrical, and railroad ventures. George von Siemens played a key role. By 1914 DB was the world’s biggest bank.
DB was a willing tool of the Third Reich. As the Chancellery’s banker, DB was Hitler’s personal paymaster. DB purged its Jewish managers, undertook 363 aryanizations of Jewish-owned businesses (former clients), and confiscated Jews’ deposits. DB jumped into newly annexed countries. DB’s top corporate clients were weapons manufacturers and exploiters of slave labour. DB officials stole physical assets from persons en route to death camps. At least 744 kg of thusly purloined gold was hawked out of a DB branch in Turkey. DB bankrolled the construction of Auschwitz...
Such was the extent of DB’s criminality, the Allies chopped it into ten regional banks none of whom were permitted carry on as Deutsche Bank, a brand that was to go down in infamy. A decade into the Cold War, however, this was forgotten and Herman Abs (DB director from 1938 to 1945) re-united three of these regional banks and reclaimed the Deutsche Bank brand. Abs, “the father of the German economic miracle,” won the trust of the American intelligence community and became a chief administrator of Marshall Plan funds. He was also a confidante of Chancellor Adenhauer. (A hero to the “fascist internationale,” Abs was made Honorary Citizen of Argentina by the Generals during the height of the Dirty War; he was given an Order of Merit by Augusto Pinochet and the Grand Cross of Orange Nassau by Prince Bernhard.)
DB resumed its global march in the 1970s while Abs was honorary chairman. However, it was after his reign when the major coups were struck such as the 1989 acquisition of Britain’s Morgan Grenfell, the 1998 purchase of Belgium’s Credit Lyonnais, and the 1999 takeover of the US giant Bankers Trust.
DB’s current CEO, Josef Ackerman, is on the board of Siemens, Shell, and Zurich Financial. He co-chairs the World Economic Forum in Davos. On DB’s board one finds: Maurice Levy (Publicis Groupe’s CEO), Johannes Teyssen (E.ON’s Chair), and reps from Robert Bosch and SAP.
DB’s climate activism involves fighting for Feed-in-Tariff electricity subsidies around the world. DB holds out Germany’s hefty subsidies for solar and wind power as the model. DB was an outspoken, high-profile opponent to California’s Proposition 23, which would have constrained state plans to curb CO2 emissions.
In 2009 DB hosted an eco-themed teleconference for 79 corporations. Months earlier, DB’s Leadership Forum gathered 120 diverse corporate clients (represented by Chairmen or CEOs) to discuss climate opportunities. DB told the assembled:
“Climate Change represents one of the greatest threats to the stability of the planet. At the same time, ‘green economics’ and how environmental issues must be considered are a prerequisite in organisations' business plans today and in the future.”
DB braced them for a consolidation wave in the renewable energy sector with large companies snapping up smaller ones.
In 2009 DB unveiled its 70-foot-high Carbon Counter outside Madison Square Gardens. The Counter, which displays increases in greenhouse gases every tenth of a second, is a collaborative effort between DB and MIT’s Program on Science and Policy of Climate Change.
In 2009 DB dispatched the Climate Change Center of Columbia U’s Earth Institute (EI) to refute climate skeptics. The Center’s Director, Peter Schlosser, is also EI’s Assistant Director and Research Director. Schlosser is involved in a dozen scientific societies including the European Geophysical Union. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Geophysical Research. As Schlosser was born and educated in Germany (Ph.D. from Heidelberg U) the negotiations with DB were probably not conducted in English.
EI is an elite brigade within the environmental movement. In their words:
“The overarching goal behind the research of the Earth Institute is to achieve environmental sustainability…”
Their two major concerns are Climate Change and population growth.
EI’s 30 research centers employ 850 scientists, students, postdocs and staff. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the lair of ultra-warmist James Hansen, is an EI affiliate and is situated on Columbia’s New York campus. Hansen is on EI’s Climate Change Center’s steering committee.
EI’s Director is Jeffrey Sachs. EI’s Advisory Board includes: Rajendra Pachauri, George Soros, E.O. Wilson, and Bono.
EI’s Climate Change: Addressing the Major Skeptic Arguments(September 2010) was one of several nearly identical documents released nearly simultaneously – for instance: John Cook’s The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism (December 2010) and the Swiss Science Academy’s The Arguments of the Climate Skeptics (November 2010). EI’s booklet is a shallow, repetitive hatchet-job averaging one logical rupture per paragraph. It calls skeptics ‘conspiracy theorists’ a dozen times. As McKitrick points out, EI’s booklet rarely delves into substantive arguments but rather merely refers to academic papers which it claims dispenses with the skeptical argument in question. McKitrick exposed a few fibs directly relating his work. The EI team admitted to these “mischaracterizations” and offered alternative wordings in a “Response to McKitrick” supplement, but they did not change the original text.
The most poignant passage from McKitrick’s Response to Misinformation from Deutche Bank is:
“At a certain point it becomes disconcerting that Deutsche Bank, which is among other things one of the few international banks qualified to act as a primary dealer for the New York Federal Reserve, and is thereby subject to particularly stringent requirements about accuracy of commentary it publishes on economic and policy issues, is going to such efforts to excuse publication of misleading information.”
DB is not the only major multinational bank knee-deep in Climate Change. UBS, HSBC and Goldman Sachs are each heavily invested in alternative energy businesses and actively market climate mitigation instruments, weather derivatives, carbon credits, etc.
Slipping in below the radar is BBVA. This old Spanish bank, boasting $775 billion in assets and 104,000 employees, considers itself a world leader in climate activism. Their website lists dozens of recent BBVA-sponsored Climate Change publications, conferences, and activist events. BBVA Foundation allocates substantial monies to enviro-projects and distributes annual ‘Frontiers of Knowledge’ Prizes for work on Climate Change/Development (recent winner, Nicholas Stern) and Ecology/Conservation Biology (recent winner, E.O. Wilson). BBVA Foundation’s Honorary President (former BBVA Foundation, and BBVA bank, President) is Marquis Jose Angel Asiain – a leading Club of Rome member. BBVA is the largest bank in Mexico. BBVA recently bought four regional banks in the USA where it now has 720 branches and is the 15th largest bank.
Regime Change in North Africa
Investors are reluctant to place their capital into fixed structures on other people’s property for fear the property owner may impair or appropriate the investment. This applies to small investors and to nationally prominent consortia. Many regimes have expropriated foreign investments. The Suez Canal, dug with French money, was seized by the Egyptian government in 1956. Libya nationalized British-owned oil assets in 1972. Desertec proposes sinking $500 billion into fixed assets onto North African sand. What assurances do these investors have that governments will not seize these assets or that outlaws will not damage them?
Europe’s green electricity plan involves replacing electricity derived from coal and uranium with renewables and natural gas. Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya have substantial gas reserves. This gas is already being shipped in immense volumes to Europe. Just as Desertec looks to North African solar power to meet Europe’s future electricity needs, a parallel collection of planned megaprojects looks to North African gas to meet Europe’s future gas needs.
Desertec does not involve merely sending electricity to Europe. Desertec is to supply the North African electricity market with solar power. Through Desertec, North Africa will become a captive market for Europe’s renewable energy companies.
The integration of the European and North African economies, required by Desertec and the natural gas hook-up, will collaterally make North Africans a captive market for European manufactured and agricultural goods. North Africa’s population is 175 million and growing.
Egypt and the Maghreb (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) have been under foreign control for millennia. Modern European involvement in the area dates to the early 19th century when France and Britain drifted into the vacuum left by the disappearing Turks.
Libya achieved independence in 1951, Egypt in 1952, Tunisia 1956, Morocco in 1957, and Algeria in 1962. These countries struggled to build states and viable economies. Relations with Europe and America were often hostile. The result was internal policies characterized by statism and economic nationalism.
The upheavals sweeping North Africa contain home-grown and foreign facets. Key to understanding the latter is the “civil society” phenomenon. Tunisia and Egypt host hundreds of non-government organizations (NGOs) engaged a various forms of activism. NGOs are never as diverse as they appear. They share basic ideologies, social locations, and funding sources.
The US State Department’s Tunis-headquartered Middle East Partnership Initiative spreads $80 million a year over 250 NGOs in the Arab world, especially in Egypt. These NGOs are mandated to: develop civil society, monitor the media, build political capacity, and train youth leaders. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), mainly funded by the US government, spends $100 million per year on political projects globally but prioritizes the Arab world. The 33 NGOs funded by NED’s Cairo office recruit young political activists by the hundreds, training each in the use of the internet and other social media. US government efforts are supplemented, if not eclipsed, by innumerable European agencies such as Konrad Adenhauer Foundation, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the truly otherworldly Boll Foundation, and the European Partnership for Democracy (the latter has three top Club of Romers on its six-member governing council). These groups are coordinated by the World Movement for Democracy and UN Democracy Fund. Private philanthropic foundations are also involved in this effort – the Ford Foundation’s Egyptian Non-Government Organization Support Centre being one example.
Hundreds of civil society NGOs collectively organized the demonstrations leading to the downfall of Ben Ali and Mubarak. Protestors were aided by Facebook and Google and Western media outlets.
In February 2011 Egypt experienced a military coup d’état. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces seized power, abolished parliament, suspended the constitution, and cleared away the main demonstration. In the weeks before the coup, top Generals glad-handed through the main demonstration assuring the crowd that Army force would not be used against them. The Army protected the demonstrators from regime loyalists. The Generals conspired with foreign counterparts about removing Mubarak for at least three years. These same foreign powers cheered on the demonstrators and pressured Mubarak to resign. Western media heralded these events as a democratic revolution.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first post-coup appearance was at the Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society Conference (February 16) where she pledged another $3.4 million for civil society organizations. Her spokesman was ecstatic about the role Egyptian civil society was playing. Within a week Clinton announced $150 million would be “re-programmed” to assist Egypt’s transition.
As sudden as Ben Ali’s flight from Tunisia was, European powers were ready to move in. On February 12 German Foreign Minister Westerwelle was in Tunis proclaiming the “revolution was irreversible.” He pledged $4 million for a Tunisian “democracy promotion fund.” He noted there were 260 German businesses operating in Tunisia and expressed hoped the revolution would improve business opportunities.
Baroness Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, while touring North Africa after the coups, called for $3 billion in additional funds from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for Egypt and Tunisia. On February 17 the European Parliament promptly came up with $1 billion. Parliamentarians stressed this money should be earmarked for renewable energy projects.
Italy’s Foreign Minister, Roberto Maroni (Northern League) seized upon the upheavals to call for sending a paramilitary force to Tunisia. This idea was shot down but Frontex, the EU border security force, agreed to step up patrols off Tunisia’s coast. Simultaneously, Italian natural gas giant ENI announced a $500 million investment in Tunisia.
(Tunisia is crucial to Desertec. It is not acceptable that all Desertec electricity travel across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. The next logical option for submarine HVDC cables is the Straight of Sicily between Tunisia and Sicily which narrows to a doable 145 kilometers. The Straight of Messina, separating the Italian peninsula from Sicily, narrows to 3 kilometers.)
In the 1930s the fascist superpowers each launched grandiose land grabs – the Germans to the East, the Japanese in Manchuria, and the Italians in North Africa. The Italian venture began with a violent re-imposition into Cyrenaica (eastern Libya). Italian military movement across the southern Mediterranean coast was checked by the British, leading to the arrival of Rommel’s Afrika Korps. After the climactic second battle of El Alamein (July 1942) German and Italian forces retreated headlong to Tunisia where they held out until late 1943. North Africa was then under British-French-American control until the above-mentioned independence dates.
Fascism (now eco-fascism), being nearly consolidated in Central and Southern Europe, is again breaking out from its home base and is again targeting North Africa.
While North African governments showed an interest in Desertec and in gas exports to Europe, this support was tepid and on their own terms. Better for the new climate-friendly energy partnership that these economic nationalist regimes be cleared away like five-pins.
*This website is ill-equipped to cover breaking stories such as the one unfolding in Libya. However note the following timeline: a) the first protest was February 15; b) within 48 hours eastern Libya was swarmed by a well-armed insurgency; c) of the first 300 reported fatalities, half were government troops or police officers many of whom were killed after being disarmed; d) the insurgency quickly showed separatist, Islamist and monarchist tendencies; e) the Libyan government immediately accused the Italians and Americans of arming the insurgents; f) by February 22, European states were calling for the military imposition of a no-fly zone and were freezing Libyan assets; g) then Italy revoked its friendship treaty with Libya so as to allow Italy to be a staging area for a NATO invasion force and; h) by February 28 France was openly assisting the insurgents and the USA was re-positioning warships around Libya.
However nebulous, and distant from the gaze of the mainstream media, the universe does contain a German Global Organization. This consists of state agencies and philanthropic foundations marching in step with the following ultra-green, German-based corporations:
Adidas, Allianz, BASF, Bayer, Continental, DHL, E.ON, Evonik, Heidelberg Cement, Henkel, Bosch, Siemens, Evonik, Heidelberg Cement, Linde, RWE, Siemens, Thyssen Krupp, TUI, Vodafone, Volkswagen Group (includes Audi et al.), BMW, German Railways, Deutche Bank, Lufthansa, SAP, Deutsche Bourse, Nordbank, Munich Re, Bertelsmann, Holtzbrink, and Commerz Bank.
These commanding heights of the German economy are governed by tightly interlocking boards of directors. These companies are often customers of one another and partners in joint ventures. To advance the German Energy Concept, the uniform propaganda coming out of these enterprises regarding “global warming” is as shrill and militant as anything coming out of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.
The German Energy Concept seeks to overcome Germany’s lack of natural energy resources with renewable energy and electro-mobility.
While some of these companies, being media conglomerates, can broadcast Climate Change propaganda directly, all have media budgets. Total media spending by Volkswagen in 2010 was $2 billion. Bayer and BMW each spent around $700 million. Such spending buys global media influence and cultural impact.
The German Global Organization is also active on academic, lobbying, and strategic acquisition fronts. (During the writing of this essay, February 2011, Deutsche Bourse took over the European Energy Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.)
Climate Change is not entirely a German, nor even a European, endeavour, but it is around the Munich-Madrid Axis where this energy doctrine makes the most sense. The areas of Europe where environmentalism is most state-embedded are those areas where fascism was most firmly rooted: Spain, Italy, and Germany. (70% of Europe’s wind power, and even more of its solar power, is generated in these three countries.) Both movements arose from a scorned, shorn imperialist polity forced onto an uneven playing field by competitors blessed with abundant natural resources. A lack of oil, coal, and uranium is their problem; it is not everyone’s problem. The Climate Change campaign makes it everyone’s problem.
Environmentalism is not all about energy nor is it driven by business. Energy is one of several environmentalist Causes along with wilderness preservation, trash recycling and, above all, land use. Big business was a reluctant late-comer to environmentalism. Business environmentalism in an adaption to changing state policies and cultural fads brought on by a pre-existing social movement whose core constituency remains the “yea olde landed interest.” As with the 19th century’s ultra-conservative waves, and again with early 20th century fascism, the reactionary element was held at bay until they won over a sufficient contingent of their nemesis: the business community.
As spectacular as the European renewable energy industry’s growth has been during the Climate Change campaign, it is not the only for-profit sector built in to Europe’s eco-industrial complex. There are now 100,000 certified organic farms in Europe and thousands of organic food processing, packaging, and retailing firms operating in this$25 billion a year market. (The largest national organic foods sectors are in Germany, Italy, and Spain.) As well, recycling regulations have engendered thousands of profit driven enterprises. Green building construction and the enviro-retrofitting of old buildings have created a mini-industrial complex, again based on state decree. Coming on-stream are all manner of electric cars and low-energy appliances. There is also a relentless sprouting of environmental law firms, environmental consultants, green marketing experts, etc.
The movement’s capture of greater portions of the private sector allows it to further neutralize the capitalist-republican constituency. The bigger the movement becomes economically, the greater its ability to influence state economic policy. It is a juggernaut sailing to landlordism, serfdom, autarky, and conquest.
Almost all facts in this essay came from the homepages of the foundations, corporations, associations, faculties, etc. discussed in this essay. Those webpages are listed below. This information was supplemented with facts from standard reference texts and encyclopaedias. The more useful news articles relied upon are listed below the homepages. If you have any questions about sources contact the author using the “contact” button on the main page.
www.Forbes.com (world’s richest people)
Deutsche-Press; February 12, 2011, Tunisia Democracy Irreversible say German Minister
Financial Post; December 14, 2010,Deutsche Bank’s Corporate Irresponsibility, David Henderson
Financial Post; December 14, 2010,Deutsche’s Climate, Terence Corcoran
Reuters; September 15, 2010, Deutsche Bank Debunks Sceptics with a Report – and a $5 billion climate portfolio, Michael Keller
Reuters; February 15, 2010, EU’s Ashton Seeks Financing for North African Reforms, David Brunnstromm
Europarliamentet; February 17, 2011, An extra billion euros for Mediterranean basin projects
Reuters; February 17, 2011, Italy’s ENI to invest $500 in Tunisia
New York Times, February 13, 2011, Italy seeks to use Force to Halt the Illegal Immigration from Tunisia, Rachel Donadio
Bloomberg, February 16, 2011, Clinton vows to support civil society activist groups
Reuters, February 17, 2011, US pledges $150 million to help Egypt’s transition