Oil is “green” or The Third Man, the Riesenrad and British Petroleum

“I was gonna tell you, wait, I was gonna tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name is Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him, some sort, I don't know, some sort of job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap. Happy as a lark and without a cent.”

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed, written by Graham Greene, and starring Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The film is set in post–World War II Vienna. It centres on Holly Martins, an American who is given a job in Vienna by his friend Harry Lime, but when Holly arrives in Vienna he gets the news that Lime is dead. Martins then meets with Lime's acquaintances in an attempt to investigate what he considers a suspicious death.

Apart from Anton Karas and his zither and the Vienna canal system the biggest star was the rather sad looking post-war Riesenrad in a somewhat bombed about “Wurstelprater”. In one of the “wagons” (gondolas) of the Giant Ferris Wheel, the memorable meeting took place between Holly Martins and Harry Lime, which was followed by the now so famous cuckoo clock quote:

“Holly, I'd like to cut you in, old man. There's nobody left in Vienna I can really trust, and we've always done everything together. When you make up your mind, send me a message - I'll meet you any place, any time, and when we do meet old man, it's you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won't ya? Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.”

The Wiener Riesenrad was constructed in 1897 by the English engineer Lieutenant Walter Bassett (1864-1907), Royal Navy. Its purpose was to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I, and it was one of the earliest Ferris wheels ever built. It sported 30 gondolas, but was severely damaged in World War II and when it was rebuilt only 15 gondolas were replaced.

Enter Waggon 31. It is a tasteful and elegant business lounge, opened in 2008, at a unique location right opposite the Giant Ferris Wheel, thus demonstrating its affinity to its famous neighbour. Grand and elegant, it was the ideal setting for BP’s invitation to this year’s presentation of Peter J Mather, President, Europe & Head of Country,UK on the subject of “Energy Outlook 2040 and Energy Transition”. Those who had attended last year’s event by BP at Cloud 21 knew what to expect.

It was all very sophisticated, the setting and the menu, the choice of wines but you would not expect less from British Petroleum! Prof Dr Kurt Tiroch, our energetic president, as we know himself a former BP executive, introduced Peter Mather who led us through the presentation about BP Energy Outlook over the next 22 years which can be summarised as follows: Gas overtakes Oil, in fact, 40% Oil versus 60% Gas. Meeting the Paris goals is technically and economically feasible but would require profound change. Wind an solar power is set to grow rapidly and become a major source of electricity world-wide by 2050. There are significant costs when a high proportion of grid demand is provided by wind and solar power. Energy storage options are developing rapidly. Transport is set to see transformative change, led by electric vehicles. Much of the world’s heating is projected to continue to be provided by gas-fired appliances although action to reduce carbon emissions could favour electric systems and hybrid appliances using heat pumps with gas. Decarbonised gas technologies are important to resolving the dual challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while meeting growing demand for energy. Gas and oil are set to play a continuing role. Digital technology is the most significant source of system-wide efficiency improvement, although its full power is unknowable. Energy efficiency offers massive potential to reduce emissions and save energy.

The Question and Answer session that followed this time extensively and long, leaves me always in great awe. Our members, once again, displayed a deep knowledge of the subject.

Two quotes, however, stick in my mind: BP is not a Charity Organisation: They need to satisfy their Shareholders. Being “Green” must be available to all not just to the rich in Europe and the US.

As night fell over the city the Riesenrad shone brightly with its colourful lights. What a view. Those of you, who had not been with us, check out the pictures. You missed (again!) one of the very great events!

Wolfgang Geissler 


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