Eike Wenzel: “The Green New Deal will greatly change the way we live”.

In this episode, I talk to renowned trend and futurologist Dr. Eike Wenzel. In the interview, he explains what the Green New Deal is all about and gives an outlook on how a livable future can succeed with sustainable technologies and an interplay between business, society and politics.

Overview Interview with Dr. Eike Wenzel

In episode 199 of the Finanzrocker podcast, we take a look at the future with renowned futurologist Dr. Eike Wenzel. In the interview, the head of the Institute for Trend and Future Research reveals what the most important megatrends of the coming years are and what challenges we as a society need to solve.

We also talk about the so-called Green New Deal, which aims to make the transition to a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy and on which Eike Wenzel recently published a book. He also explains how these developments fit in with Germany as a car country, what the transportation of the future might look like, and what role digitization plays in this process.

In addition, we also talk about the local aspect of implementing measures, why it plays such a big role, and why it is so important to bring local people along with us. At the end of our conversation, we take a brief look at the global food industry, and Eike Wenzel shows how companies can also be brought on board in sustainable development.

Shownotes Dr. Eike Wenzel

Presented by Mehr Mut zum Glück

Last week, a very interesting episode appeared on “More Courage for Happiness” that might also interest many listeners of the Finanzrocker podcast.

I have Mathias Fischedick as a guest. He talks about his professional career as a TV producer of well-known formats and why he now works as a business and mental coach. In addition, he writes very interesting books like “Surviving among colleagues” or “Getting more done without being done.”

We also talk about how to work with stressful colleagues, how to deal with stress in home office hours and how to unleash your full performance potential. Let’s take a quick listen.

If you want to listen to the interview with Mathias Fischedick, check out the blog.

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Summary of the interview

About Dr. Eike Wenzel

Dr. Eike Wenzel is considered one of the most renowned German trend and futurologists. With a degree in media science, he founded the Institute for Trend and Future Research in 2011 and has headed it ever since.

Together with a colleague, Eike Wenzel also launched the “Trend and Sustainability Management” degree program. He is also a member of the Sustainability Council of the state of Baden-Württemberg and the author of various books and studies.

His latest book, “The New Green Age: How the Green New Deal Will Radically Change the Way We Live,” was published in the summer of 2021.

You are considered one of the most renowned trend and future forscher in Germany. How did you come to be involved with these topics?

  • At university, I did a lot of work on media and media economics and got into such areas as marketing and strategic planning.
  • In doctoral theses, I dealt with the representation of history on television, and all that was really missing was the future. At some point, I landed at the Zukunftsinstitut and we started publishing trend studies intensively.

In 2011, you founded the Institute for Trend and Future Research. What does the ITZ do exactly?

  • We work in a consulting capacity and are mainly with clients with workshops where we instruct people on how to deal with megatrends and technology trends. Quasi as an early warning system for companies, institutions and parties.
  • We also do a lot of lectures and internally the study work. In the meantime, we have even developed a course of study at the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Sciences called “Future Trends and Sustainable Management.”
  • At least two-thirds of the 15 megatrends we have worked out are directly related to sustainability. This is a topic that we are working on very intensively.
  • Megatrends such as the energy transition, climate change, demographic change and digitization are currently very important for us.

The most important buzzword at the moment is transformation. Why does transformation play such an important role in 2021?

  • Let me try to explain it for people in the financial sector. We notice that sovereign wealth funds, such as Norway’s, are actually going out of their old values.
  • What’s looming are the famous stranded assets – that is, that what value and infrastructure has been created at these companies is simply no longer needed, or we shouldn’t use it anymore, because we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. We need to get out of the fossil society that we’ve lived in for the last 200 years.

What is your opinion about capitalism?

  • It’s that I’ve realized that we have to take a different path. If you look back at the 1970s and 1980s, you see that we completely neglected the use of fossil fuels and what that does to natural resources.
  • I’m not saying we have to get out of capitalism. I think we need markets – Markets can be an important value and tool for the post-fossil society as well. The beginning of neoliberalism can be described exactly:
  • That what happened in the late 1970s, that was the entry of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as conservative leaders of the Western world, and the policy was to privatize wherever we could without looking at what would come out of it.
  • We have not looked at how we manage natural and non-renewable resources – and that’s where we need to put a point and look for another way.

You are also very critical of the platform capitalism that has degenerated in recent years, aren’t you?

  • We have to realize that in recent years we have had companies without any major state or societal control like Google, Amazon or Facebook.
  • In the background of this is also a megatrend that we call individualization. In our definition, individualization means that throughout the 20th century, people were able to develop their lifestyles independently of their origins.
  • That was also what social media offered, and we were relatively complacent there and just let it run its course. And out of that has come something like control and has become a set of instruments that has undermined our democracy. Facebook is a very important trigger.
  • We have to find a different way of dealing with our data and a different approach. I can’t just let Facebook do it.
  • Before I take a technology into my hands as a society, I have to clarify where I want to go, what my vision is and what our path must be in the future.

Your new book, The New Green Age, is about the Green New Deal. What is the Green New Deal?

  • The EU calls it the Green Deal, taking its cue from Franklin Roosevelt’s Green Deal of the 1930s. He found himself in a situation where markets no longer functioned and a society threatened to break apart.
  • He then very quickly set up large government programs to stimulate domestic demand. And lo and behold, it worked.
  • Green New Deal has long been a vision of leftists and greens. Faced with planetary limits, we need innovation, and for that we need markets.
  • But we also need to realize that many of the key technologies from the last 20 years, such as the iPhone, would not have been conceivable at all without basic research and government intervention.
  • We now need an approach that requires the state to start a new conversation with companies.
  • The state is not the better entrepreneur, that’s absolutely clear, but the state’s role right now is that it should take risks in developing new issues that are important for the future, while maintaining the conversation with civil society and companies – and actually start developing technologies in such a forward-looking and responsible way.
  • We have the money and we have already developed many technologies and now we need policy, policy, policy. We need to change capitalism in a sustainable way.

In the first chapter of your book, you highlight the question of “freedom to consume or liberation from consumption.” What do you mean by that?

  • Let’s go back to last summer and look at the Corona demonstrations. They’re something very toxic and we’re going to need some time to classify it. This is really a minority in our country, but they, like the populists, get great publicity from the media because we live in times of social media.
  • What you discover with these people – corona skeptics, vaccination skeptics, etc. – I would feed that back again to the megatrend of individualization.
  • They are highly individualized in such an irritating, bizarre way that they are obviously not at all willing to deviate from their own lifestyle. In the last three years, neoliberalism has given usn was given as a suggestion that we have quasi unlimited freedom, but actually it is only the freedom to consume without limits.
  • The corona skeptics were irritated that a situation could arise where they had to take responsibility, take a step back and realize that they could not book the Majorca vacation next month. That was the source of agitation for many and the motivation for many to take to the streets for the first time in their lives.
  • And that’s where we as a society have a problem, if we don’t want to exercise empathy, solidarity and just plain adult responsibility.

An important chapter deals with worldwide disinformation. Why were the countless “fake news” campaigns on all kinds of topics able to take hold in the first place?

  • It was possible because we were relatively relaxed about letting social media run its course – without feeling that we had to introduce regulations. How do you deal with algorithms that only control outrage and optimize reach? We were too complacent and were convinced that these social media would eventually generate emancipation and empowerment of the individual.
  • We thought for a long time that Silicon Valley was an ally of this democratic social liberal idea. That is definitely not the case. We should have realized that earlier.
  • This has led to the fact that the beautiful idea of individualization, from which we expected so much, has suddenly imploded and, amazingly, on the subject of Corona. But also because we as a socially liberal society thought we had won and suddenly the Trump phenomenon happened.

Another Silicon Valley figure is Elon Musk. Germany is a car country and Elon Musk is totally competitive there. You predict that the end of the car is not far off.

  • Elon Musk is a difficult figure who I would definitely not place in our Western European left-liberal consensus. He doesn’t have to be as an entrepreneur. He is convinced that we need to end the idiocy of internal combustion engines in the next few years, and he also understands the sustainable scaling effects of solar.
  • Where I have problems with him is simply thinking that we just need to replace the drive. I don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not going to be sustainable.
  • We probably won’t have less mobility in the next 10 years, but we need different mobility and we need to move away from the invention of the car. We live in the 21st century and have the opportunity to move forward with other types of mobility.
  • It’s all about networking and digitalizing the organization of mobility, because that’s where we can generate sustainability effects. Since the 1990s, we have already been saving CO2 in all areas, but not in mobility – this is mainly due to cars. We have to convince the highly individualized society to give up private ownership of automobility and reject it as an archetypal product of the 20th century. We have to come to them with alternatives.
  • The alternative is networked mobility, and that’s where the buzzword of autonomous driving plays a role. Autonomous driving must be part of public transport in the future. We…

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