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Posted on on May 6th, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (

Jeremy Rifkin
born January 26, 1945 (age 73)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.

Main interests
Economy, political science, scientific and technological change
Jeremy Rifkin is an American economic and social theorist, writer, public speaker, political advisor, and activist. Rifkin is the author of 20 books about the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society, and the environment. His most recent books include The Zero Marginal Cost Society (2014), The Third Industrial Revolution (2011), The Empathic Civilization (2010), and The European Dream (2004).

Rifkin has been an unpaid advisor to the European Union since 2000. He has advised the current president and the past two presidents of the European Commission and their leadership teams. Rifkin has also served as an unpaid advisor to the leadership of the European Parliament and prominent European heads of state – including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany – on issues related to the economy, climate change, and energy security.

Rifkin is the principal architect of the Third Industrial Revolution long-term economic sustainability plan to address the triple challenge of the global economic crisis, energy security, and climate change.[1] The Third Industrial Revolution was formally endorsed by the European Parliament in 2007 and is now being implemented by various agencies within the European Commission.[2]

Rifkin has been advising the leadership of the People’s Republic of China in recent years. The Huffington Post reported from Beijing in October 2015 that “Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has not only read Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution, but taken it to heart”, he and his colleagues having incorporated ideas from this book into the core of the country’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan.(3) According to EurActiv, “Jeremy Rifkin is an American economist and author whose best-selling Third Industrial Revolution arguably provided the blueprint for Germany’s transition to a low-carbon economy, and China’s strategic acceptance of climate policy.”[4]

Rifkin has taught at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania since 1995, where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable economies. Rifkin is ranked #123 in the WorldPost / HuffingtonPost 2015 global survey of “The World’s Most Influential Voices.” He is also listed among the top 10 most influential economic thinkers in the survey.[5] Rifkin has lectured before many Fortune 500 companies, and hundreds of governments, civil society organizations, and universities over the past thirty five years.[6]

Rifkin is also the President of the TIR Consulting Group, LLC,[7] in connection with a wide range of industries including renewable energy, power transmission, architecture, construction, IT, electronics, transport, and logistics. TIR’s global economic development team is working with cities, regions, and national governments to develop the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure for a Collaborative Commons and a Third Industrial Revolution. TIR is currently working with the regions of Hauts-de-France in France,[8] the Metropolitan Region of Rotterdam and The Hague,[9] and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg[10] in the conceptualization, build-out, and scale-up of a smart Third Industrial Revolution infrastructure to transform their economies.


Jeremy Rifkin, looking at effects of globalization started theorizing about what the new World will look like. When the ideas coalesced in his mind, In 2011, Mr. Rifkin published “The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.” It became an immediate New York Times best seller when the Wall Street Journal analyzed the economic
aspects of Rifkin’s theory. The WSJ article pointed at the potential financial winners and the potential financial losers – but as we already pointed out in
our last column his proposals contain much more. In effect he points out that
if we consider the years 2008-2009 as the first Global collapse of financial institutions caused by high costs of fossil fuels, unemployment, unreasonably
swelling of National debt, then what we are now heading to is nothing less
then the onset of the second Global collapse of the economy.

Now, like then, the price of energy and food is climbing, unemployment remains high, the housing market has tanked again, consumer and government debt is soaring, and the recovery is slowing. Facing the prospect of a second collapse of the global economy, humanity is desperate for a sustainable economic game plan to take us into the future. The difference from the first collapse is in
the arrival of new big Nation States and Regional-blocs of Nations.

Jeremy Rifkin explores how Internet technology and renewable energy are merging to create the powerful “Third Industrial Revolution.” He asks us to imagine hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing it with each other in an “energy internet,” just like we now create and share information online.

Rifkin describes how the five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution will create thousands of businesses and millions of jobs and usher in a fundamental reordering of human relationships, from hierarchical power to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct commerce, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.

When the 2011 book was published, Rifkin’s vision was already gaining traction in the international community. The European Parliament had issued a formal declaration calling for its implementation, and nations in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are quickly preparing their own initiative for transitioning into this new economic paradigm.

But furthermore, now Rifkin points out that looking at the effects of the Second Industrial Revolution – the switch from coal to fossil fuels, led eventually to WWI when human life lost its value – but even more – to the
calamity of the influenza epidemics that took another 50,000 lives as if it were a mini-extinction.

The Third Industrial Revolution could thus be an insider’s account of the next great economic era, including a look into the personalities and players—heads of state, global CEO’s, social entrepreneurs, and NGOs—who are pioneering its implementation around the world, but it could also involve moves towards WWIII
and massive extinction of life.

We are adding these columns because of this week’s “Sustainable Energy for All Forum” (SE4All) two days (May 2-3, 2018) Session In Lisbon, with Jeremy Rifkin
as Key-Speaker.

As per “2018 Sustainable Energy for All Forum – Day 2 Wrap Up” with Mr. Rifkin
as Key Speaker, it was all about speed and scale of solutions – the urgency of
momentum on the SDG7 goals – concrete actions to leave no one behind. It is this call to a decrease in the inequality of the distribution of wealth that
will be picked up now at the May 14-16 2018 Vienna Energy Forum when the
Federal President of Austria, Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen, will host at the Hofburg Palace the Second Day of the meetings. The First Day of the meetings,
to be held at the Vienna International UN Center and hosted by UNIDO – the
UN Industrial Development Organization – will deal with Climate and technical aspects of Clean Energy Innovation helped by a Global Network of Sustainable Energy Centers.

At the center of all this is the UN SDG7 – the Sustainable Development Goal
number 7 that reads: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and
modern energy for all.” The critics point at the huge amounts of money needed
to achieve that goal and the fact the UN has not created the mechanism needed
to come up with the funds. The buds of hope have appeared nevertheless as individuals, communities, and even some regional groupings, have started to
create mechanisms for local achievement of this goal. These are small lights
in the right direction Mr. Rifkin is suggesting.

A summary by IISD of the Lisbon meetings can be found at:
IISD SEforALL Bulletin
Volume 181 Number 22 | Sunday, 6 May 2018

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