Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2018

18. April 2018

So what brings 2,000 conference participants from over 90 countries, some 180 journalists, 30 ministers and state secretaries and over 100 high-level speakers to the German Federal Foreign Office for two days in the middle of April?

by Dr. Jeremy Gaines

The answer is: the fourth edition of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue. And a dialogue it is. Even the host of the event, newly appointed Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, not only gives the introductory address, but also takes a question immediately afterwards: Why, Minister, is this conference so important to you?

Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2018 Podium

Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2018 Podium

Like Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, who follows him with a truly passionate speech championing the transition to renewable energy sources, the host is convinced: Only if Germany reaches out to the world with the idea of the English neologism “Energiewende” is there hope to meaningfully combat climate change. Altmaier says that Germany’s road has been a long one since the first “crazy minds” suggested renewables back in the 1980s, but proudly tells a jam-packed Weltsaal that on 18 January 2018 the German economy ran on electricity entirely generated from renewable sources and encourages other countries to follow suit. The two speakers receive strong support from Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, who proclaims, to applause: “We need all the different technologies if we are to reach our climate goals.” One of the conference organizers, David Wedepohl of BSW, comments: “The message is really getting out to the world.

Roughly 60% are foreign journalists. There are international camera teams here, and we’re proud to see that the likes of such high-circulation papers as the Hindustani Times are covering the BETD.” This interest was strongly in evidence, for example, at the first panel session, on off-grid renewable solutions to improve electricity access specifically for rural populations. The panellists came from the African Union, Ethiopia, Madagascar, New York, Tanzania – and Germany. And were united in concluding: Africa’s future lies in creating its own Energiewende – local power generation from renewable resources.


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Dr. Jeremy Gaines is coordinator of the Nigerian German Energy Partnership. He is also a translator with an office in Frankfurt am Main.