Julien VincentIt’s about time I gave you an update on what’s been going on at the World Energy Congress here in Montreal.

I finally got my chance to address the Congress today. As a guest speaker, I was asked to discuss the role of civil society in the energy debate and after two and a half days of listening to government and business rhetoric, I can tell you right now that role is huge.

I made the point that government and the energy industry are actually accountable to us, whether they like it or not. After all, they depend on our votes, our business, our investment and our social support to remain viable.

I also made it absolutely clear that we would not put up with half measures on climate change and that we were out to remove their social and political license to operate as dirty energy companies.

Humanity is at a point where we simply don’t have time to muck about on delivering the energy revolution and so I was in no mood to sugar coat my messages. The reality is we urgently need to phase out dirty and risky forms of energy and get moving with the array of renewable energy options available to us. And you know what? The audience really appreciated having a greater understanding of what civil society, and Greenpeace as part of it, is campaigning for. I encourage you to do the same: the next time you’re confronting someone in the dirty energy industry or government about what their doing (or not) about climate change, just tell them straight up what you stand for and what you will support – like I said before, it's to you and me who they are ultimately accouintable to.

I can’t finish this post without giving my appreciation to Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute, who opened the Congress today with an inspiring speech on the potential we really have for transformation. The past couple of days have felt a bit hollow – industry clearly understands they need to talk about climate change action but in the same breath will say that we can’t move away from fossil fuels. Lester swept that "no we can't" notion away as he reminded us of some of the incredible projects that society has accomplished when we put our mind to it, like the US economy re-tooling during the Second World War or the space program. There’s no reason why the energy revolution can’t be next. Thank you Lester.

Well, tomorrow is the final day of the Congress and I’ll be here to see what the 2010 World Energy Congress declaration has to say. What do you think – should we expect more waffle? Or real, meaningful action? Whatever the case, I’ll let you know the outcome so stay tuned…

Images © Greenpeace / Powell