During her May 15 speech to The Beyond Growth Conference held by the European Parliament, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, citing a 1970s de-growth plan published by the Club of Rome, made reference to the European Union’s “social market economy” five times in a span of less than 150 words.
A “social market economy,” of course, is a reference to the sort of central economic planning engaged in by authoritarian socialist governments throughout history. “And this is exactly why we put forward our European Green Deal,” Von Der Leyen told the conference. “Building a 21st century clean-energy circular economy is one of the most significant economic challenges of our times.”
The agenda of the Beyond Growth Conference focused on devising plans to manage the destruction of economic growth that is a centerpiece of the real agenda of the energy transition. Limitations on energy minerals and other resources required by wind, solar and electric vehicles, and on the ability to continue printing trillions of debt-funded dollars and Euros in a vain attempt to subsidize them to the scale required to displace fossil fuels inevitably means the forcing of common citizens in the Western world to scale down their standards of living and limit their mobility to meet the net-zero by 2050 goals being dictated at the global level. Thus, the need for the EU to move “beyond growth” and back to a more primitive mode of living.
Rising recognition and acceptance of these limitations, along with the success by Western governments in enforcing authoritarian edicts on their populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now leading to a rapid evolution in the overarching narrative and talking points related to the energy transition. The former energy transition narrative of “we will scale up renewables and EVs and you won’t even notice the difference in your daily lives” has been transformed to “we will scale everything down and you will just have to live with it” with stunning speed during 2023.
A report titled “The Urban Mobility Scorecard Tool: Benchmarking the Transition to Sustainable Urban Mobility” issued by the World Economic Forum in May is another great example. Based largely upon a 2017 UC Davis report titled “3 Revolutions in Urban Transportation,” the WEF report advocates for authoritarian governments to force the reduction of the numbers of vehicles on the road from the current global estimate of 1.45 billion to just 500 million. The UC Davis report went largely unnoticed in 2017 because the climate alarmist lobby had not been sufficiently emboldened at that time to publicly discuss its real goals. But that mask is now coming off.
The authors of the WEF report claim citizens who can no longer own cars would still be allowed to move away from their planned cities of the future, but only via “shared transport,” i.e. electric buses and a new network of thousands of miles of high-speed rail. But California has clearly shown that thoughts of building a huge network of tens of thousands of miles of new high-speed rail in the western world in the next 27 years is a complete fantasy. California’s own high-speed rail boondoggle, originally proposed 27 years ago in 1996, has seen its budget blossom from $8 billion to over $130 billion, and still hasn’t managed to lay a single mile of rail.
The real world simply does not conform itself to fantasies like this plan, and everyone at the WEF is fully aware of that reality. Thus, what this plan really amounts to is a scheme to enable the speeding-up of implementation of socialist/authoritarian governments in the West to enforce the new restrictions on the lives of common citizens, an effort that began to accelerate during the COVID pandemic. Authoritarian governments always endeavor to restrict the free flow of information outside of approved propaganda, and restricting mobility is a key means of achieving that goal.
As we see the EU and the WEF now freely admitting, economic de-growth and forcing citizens of Western nations to live smaller, less prosperous lives are the real end goals of this energy transition. The narrative has officially shifted, and we would do well to take them at their word.
David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.
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