This is how all energy industry events should begin. The World Energy Congress kicks off today in Montreal and as delegates arrived at the conference venue, hundreds of demonstrators were there to tell them that the industry needs to go beyond oil, and that dirty and risky fuels weren’t welcome here.

The centrepiece of the day was a wonderfully choreographed “beach party”, where all the beachgoers were covered in our fake oil recipe and speaker after speaker from local civil society groups stood up to denounce the use of dirty energy. Check out the photos here. The official opening ceremony is later this evening but if you wanted to get the World Energy Congress started on the right note, this protest was the perfect way to do it.

Even the Congress itself provided part of our backdrop. They’ve got an exhibition tent set up outside the main venue in the shape of the Northern Hemisphere – I’m guessing the organisers thought the Southern Hemisphere had already been mined and burned.

If you’ve never heard of the World Energy Congress, I’m not surprised. It’s not very well known but I’ll be attending all next week and will let you know what’s going on. It’s billed by the organisers as the premier international multi-energy forum with exhibitors from the field and only takes place once every three years.

But it’s the context that makes this year’s event more interesting. It’s taking place against the backdrop of major oil disasters such as in the Gulf of Mexico and Dalian, China. Greenhouse pollution continues to flood our atmosphere at alarming rates and yet the governments of both Canada and Quebec have plans to open up even more dangerous, unconventional sources of fossil fuel, which would put the environment at greater risk and keep us addicted to dirty energy. The Energy [R]evolution is needed now more than ever.

I'll be giving a talk at the conference on Wednesday about the importance of civil society in the energy debate. Today has given me a fantastic reminder of the power of civil society to speak up and demand a pollution-free energy future.


(as an Australian, I found this depiction of planet Earth somewhat offensive...)

Photos: © François Parent / Greenpeace