In commemoration of Hermann Scheer
On April 29, 2014 Hermann Scheer would have celebrated his 70th birthday.
Hermann Scheer, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, died at age 66 fully engaged in a life of ideas and initiatives. He had been a member of the German Bundestag for three decades and significantly influenced the political discourse in the country in many fields, with courage, far-sightedness and determination. Hermann Scheer was dedicated to the broad shift in the energy basis of modern civilization: from fossil and nuclear resources to renewable energies. He had realized early that it was essential for an intact environment and for opportunities for peace as well. He was a thought leader, motivator, reformer and revolutionary. The death of Hermann Scheer has brought into focus the extraordinary achievement of his life's work.
Just weeks before his death, Hermann Scheer was interviewed by journalist Amy Goodmann, one of the two hosts of Democracy now! the national, daily, independent US TV / radio news program. At the thirtieth anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards, they met in Bonn in September 2010 for what turned out to be one of his final interviews.
Democracy Now!: Hermann Scheer (1944-2010): German Lawmaker, Leading Advocate for Solar Energy and "Hero for the Green Century" in One of His Final Interviews
The following are excerpts of the rush transcript of the broadcast 15 October 2010:
AMY GOODMAN: We're broadcasting today from San Francisco. And we were planning to spend the hour today with the author and philosopher Derrick Jensen, here in California for a big event - just before a big event he was having tomorrow here in California. But just before we went on air, we learned of the death of Hermann Scheer. He is a pioneering German politician and economist who helped make Germany a renewable energy powerhouse. Hermann Scheer died last night in Berlin at the age of sixty-six.
Scheer had been member of the German Parliament for three decades and was the president of EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy. He was also the general chair of the World Council for Renewable Energy. His books on solar energy include The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future and Energy Autonomy: The Economic, Social and Technological Case for Renewable Energy.
In 1999, Hermann Scheer won the Right Livelihood Award for his, quote, well, "indefatigable" -tireless-"work for the promotion of solar energy worldwide." When he received the award, he described solar energy as "the energy of the people." Jakob von Uexkull, the founder of the Right Livelihood Award, said today, quote, "Hermann Scheer has been the world’s most powerful advocate for renewable energy during the last two decades. His personal commitment and his incomparable campaigning spirit will continue to encourage many policy-makers, experts and citizens around the world to fight for a world without fossil fuel or nuclear.
TIME magazine named Hermann Scheer "Hero for the Green Century."
Well, just a few weeks ago, I had a chance to sit down with Hermann Scheer in Bonn, Germany, at the thirtieth anniversary of the Right Livelihood Awards …..For the full transcript please view
To honor Hermann Scheer’s memory EUROSOLAR and the Hermann Scheer Foundation prepared a memorial series of essays with contributions by friends, political companions and fellow activists who shared some of their personal reminiscences of him for publication. Many of these reflections were written shortly after his death. The memorial publication is available as a pdf document in German language.
Tribute to Hermann Scheer
Foreword for the "Energy Imperative" by Bianca Jagger:
Bianca Jagger is Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International, USA. She knew Hermann Scheer as both a friend and colleague and worked with him closely over the years.
In her foreword for the Energy Imperative, Hermann Scheer’s last book, she said: "Two revolutions have shaped the course of recent human history: the industrial and the information technology revolution. Hermann Scheer was a driving force behind the third significant revolution, renewable energy revolution, which will determine the shape of our future." ...
"The governing principles behind Hermann’s approach were the democratisation and decentralisation of energy. Energy autonomy, for countries and even for individuals, was his fundamental goal. He believed that, by producing as much energy as possible locally, we could reduce global dependence on long distance transmission lines, and diffuse the concentration of economic power, which resides largely with a very few companies and institutions. Hermann was an anti-monopolist." …
Hermann Scheer quotes:
Quotes by Hermann Scheer drawn from his books:
"No energy technology can be installed faster than the technology for renewables, if we only want it." (2006)
"In order that humanity and nature once again work in unity, humanity must use only the same energy which nature does: the sun’s energy." (2005)
"Extra costs for renewable energy today are ecological damage which has been averted and low energy costs tomorrow." (2004)
"The immediate move to renewable energy is not an unbearable strain, but rather a unique social and economic opportunity."
"It is not renewable energy that we lack, it is time." (2010)
On solar PV: "Photovoltaics - the conversion of sunlight into electricity - offers humanity a unique opportunity." (2010)
On nuclear energy: "Because what may happen must not happen, such technology must not be used." (2010)
In Remembrance of Hermann Scheer
The death of Hermann Scheer has brought into focus the extraordinary achievement of his life's work. Covering a wide range of topics, his work was always dedicated to finding new and creative solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time and is now more important than ever.
The future relevance of his work is especially evident in the development of renewable energy in Germany and the rest of the world.
Thanks in large part to the German Renewable Energy Act (EEG), almost 19 percent of all power consumed in Germany today comes from renewable energy. The EEG, known internationally as "Scheer's Law", provides the means for opening up an energy market dominated by fossil fuels and nuclear power. It is an excellent example of how visionary thinking can provide an important structural mechanism that has the potential for global spillover effects.
In terms of energy policy, Hermann Scheer championed the idea of having the entire world powered by renewable energy. Due to global climate change and dwindling fossil resources, he recognized early on that renewable energy use on a global scale was the only way to prevent endless conflict and war over the last remaining fossil fuels and ensure a just, humane and sustainable future for our civilization.
He also understood conceptually how this goal could be achieved both quickly and economically: He realized that social change must come from people on the local level. He understood how social participation can be a driving force for change while the structures built for supplying conventional energy represent barriers and detours on the road to renewables. He believed that a decentralized power supply based on renewable energy is 100-percent feasible, even in Germany.
He recognized that the solar age required a new political and social awakening. And so, in 1988, he founded EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy together with his wife, Irmgard Scheer-Pontenagel, and the support of numerous benefactors.
As part of its civil society commitment to renewable energy, the Foundation gave life and direction to initiatives such "The Renewable Energy Transition", "The Solar Economy", "Energy Autonomy" and the "Farming Renewable Energy", some of which went on to become book titles by Hermann Scheer.
He also created the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an endeavor which took him almost two decades to achieve.
Hermann Scheer was a visionary and pioneer. And the best way of honoring his life's work is by understanding that the task for the next generation is to adopt and implement renewable energy.
Two main threads can be found in his work: coming up with a coherent rationale for renewable energy and overcoming conceptual barriers that cannot be justified on their own.
These sentiments are reflected in the following quote by him:
"The quick and comprehensive adoption of renewable energy today means clean, safe and affordable energy for everybody tomorrow."
These words not only present a clear rationale, but also state a clear goal and the steps needed to achieve that goal. This clarity of vision, which combines ideals and values and fosters public debate, is missing among so many people today who either turn away from politics in resignation or choose to establish their own party. From the perspective of the main political parties, the question should be less about what changes voters will tolerate and more about what goals will convince voters to accept changes and make sacrifices.
Hermann Scheer always believed in a strong and autonomous parliament capable of taking the initiative. An example of this is the Renewable Energy Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, EEG), which is itself an act of parliament. He forged alliances among the parties and was valued as an informed representative who never let alleged constraints influence his work in parliament.
In commemoration of Hermann Scheer on the anniversary of his death, this symposium will address the social challenges we must all face if we want to adopt a value-based energy policy.
To remember Hermann Scheer is to discuss a wide range of political subjects. Ideals and values such a commitment to justice, social responsibility and solidarity formed the cornerstone of his political career. And as a politician, he always strove to find the best means of action for translating social needs into government policy.
Let us honor Hermann Scheer, aware that he is with us in spirit.