The All Energy Day on 9 May, this year in The Hague, has consciously not opted for a keynote speaker that will tell the students attending the event what they usually hear at TU Delft about climate change and the energy transition. That is, that climate action is needed, the energy transition must speed up, and CO2 emissions must be drastically reduced. The TU Delft student organisers have gone for someone with a different voice in society, says the Chair of the All Energy Day Board, Berend Tideman. “Not because we are fans of his or agree with him, but because we think it is interesting to hear a different opinion, even if it goes against the science. The discussion may well be fierce.”
The keynote speaker is Bjørn Lomborg from Denmark. He has written several books about climate change, such as False alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet that was published in 2001. Both well before that book and thereafter, his message is that climate change does exist and is caused by humans, but that the impacts are not that bad and that reducing CO2 emissions is not worth the investments. He believes that that money should be put into other world problems.
Lomborg is criticised for spreading disinformation. There was even a whole book dedicated to this in 2011: The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight About Global Warming. How are the students planning to avoid Lomborg sharing disinformation on 9 May?
‘People they really like us stirring things up’
Tideman explains that Lomborg’s keynote speech will be about ‘prioritising solutions for sustainable development’. He will soon discuss the speech’s content with Lomborg. “After that he will write his story and we will check it for inaccuracies. We also encourage the attendees to prepare critically. They will learn that they should think about what they believe and how they can defend their views against people whose opinions are less underpinned by science. I hear from various people that they really like us stirring things up.”
As Tideman expects a strong rebuttal to the keynote speech, he is not afraid that attendees will leave with the idea that global warming is not that bad and that the energy transition is not that urgent. “We all want the same thing and that is to make the world a better place, including for the generations to come. A rapid energy transition is needed, but it can be done in all sorts of ways. The question is how to get everyone in agreement as quickly as possible. We think that a good discussion will help.”
Asked for his opinion about the proceedings, TU Delft Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen let it be known through a spokesperson that the organisers are free to invite whoever they want. The spokesperson emphasises that despite the fact that Van der Hagen has a seat on the board of recommendation of the All Energy Day and that TU Delft is also making a financial contribution, this event is independent of TU Delft. “We will not interfere in the organisation.”
End Fossil climate activists, who regularly have a seat at the table of the Executive Board, responded with dismay to Lomborg as the keynote speaker. ‘It is scandalous to invite someone that so shamelessly discredits the scientific community’, they write. Tideman sees it differently. “We are organising this event with a focus on sustainability and good causes.”
- The All Energy Day will be held between 09:00-17:30 on 9 May in The Hague. Students, companies and anyone interested in the energy transition can attend workshops and presentations and visit company stands. There is also a pitch competition for start-ups. Tickets are on sale until 7 May.