The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World

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The Third Industrial Revolution; How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World
The Third Industrial Revolution
Author Jeremy Rifkin
Language English
Subject Energy, Economics
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Palgrave MacMillan
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 270
ISBN 978-0230341975

The Third Industrial Revolution; How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World is a book by Jeremy Rifkin published in 2011. The premise of the book is that fundamental economic change occurs when new communication technologies converge with new energy regimes. 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 to lateral power, that will impact the way we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life. The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution are (1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into green micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy internet that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of renewable energy locally, on-site, they can sell surplus green electricity back to the grid and share it with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid.[1]

Implementing the five pillars[edit]

European Union[edit]

On May 29, 2012, the European Commission held a conference in Brussels with the theme, "Mission Growth: Europe At The Lead Of The New Industrial Revolution."[2] Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Antonio Tajani, Vice President and Minister of Industry and Entrepreneurship, co-hosted the summit. Vice President Tajani called for a comprehensive Third Industrial Revolution economic agenda to regrow the European economy and create an integrated European single market. In his speech, Vice President Tajani said, "Today is a good day for all of us, because today is the beginning of the Third Industrial Revolution. Now the European conversation will go beyond austerity, straight to creating growth and jobs in Europe. My slogan is: 'Without a new industrial policy, no growth, no jobs.'"[2] He continued by saying that "the first industrial revolution was the revolution of coal and steam, the second was the oil one. This Third Industrial Revolution is the internet of energy and is not only about energy. It involves many key sectors, from raw materials, to manufacturing, services, construction, transport, Information Technologies and even chemistry."[2] Finally he went on to say, "Because its energy sources are distributed and not centralized, and therefore scale laterally and not centrally, [The Third Industrial Revolution] is the ideal playground for SMEs.... our 2020 strategy puts us on the right path but we must now accelerate and put more resources on growth, and this must be based on sustainability, testing the edge of our technological frontiers."[2]

Jeremy Rifkin followed Vice President Tajani's address with a keynote speech on the Third Industrial Revolution vision and game plan for Europe.[3][4]

In January 2008 the European Commission proposed binding legislation to implement the 20-20-20 targets. This ‘climate and energy package’ was agreed by the European Parliament (EP) and Council in December 2008 and became law in June 2009.[5] Europe is leading the way to the Third Industrial Revolution through mandating a cut of 20% of emissions of greenhouse gases, compared with 1990 levels, moving toward a 20% increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix, and cutting energy consumption by 20%, all by 2020. The 27 EU member states are making every effort to ensure that the remaining stock of fossil fuels is used more efficiently and are experimenting with clean energy technologies to limit carbon dioxide emissions in the burning of conventional fuels.[6]

In Brussels, February 1, 2010, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, chaired by Jo Leinen MEP, and representatives of the five major political groups in the EP joined today with Europe’s main associations representing small and medium-sized companies (UEAPME), consumers’ interests (BEUC), cooperatives(Cooperatives Europe) and the Foundation on Economic Trends in a call for a “Third Industrial Revolution” ahead of the European Council’s summit devoted to energy. The European Parliament will forward a declaration to Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, requesting a comprehensive legislative plan with adequate means to implement the “Third Industrial Revolution” energy strategy across Member States.[7][8][9] The plan also focuses on the shift to a new economic paradigm for the next stage of European integration.[10]


China is currently engaged in transitioning its economy into the Third Industrial Revolution. Premier Li Keqiang, who was elected by the 12th National People's Congress in 2013, is a fan of Jeremy Rifkin and read The Third Industrial Revolution book.[11][12] Premier Li told his state scholars to pay close attention to The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.[11] Vice Premier Wang Yang has also endorsed the Third Industrial Revolution vision and economic development plan.

Rifkin spent two weeks in Beijing and other regions of China as the guest of the Chinese government in September, at which time he met with government leaders, including Vice Premier Wang Yang and Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang.[13][14] Meetings were also held with the National Development and Reform Commission and the Development Research Center of the State Council. During Vice Premier Wang Yang’s meeting with Mr. Rifkin, he expressed his government’s determination to ensure that China be among the leaders in instituting the five pillars of the emerging Third Industrial Revolution.[15]

On December 5, 2013, the Chairman of the China State Grid Corporation, Liu Zhenya, published an article titled “Smart Grid Hosting and Promoting the Third Industrial Revolution.”[16] In the essay, Liu Zhenya lays out China’s ambitious plan to lead the world into the Third Industrial Revolution and a new sustainable post carbon energy era. The government is dedicating an initial $82 billion to establish a Third Industrial Revolution distributed “energy Internet” that will serve as a technology platform and infrastructure for ushering in a new economic paradigm. Under the plan, millions of people in neighborhoods and communities across the country as well as hundreds of thousands of businesses will be able to produce their own green electricity locally and share it on a national energy Internet, just like they now create and share information online. The distributed, collaborative, peer-to-peer, and laterally scaled energy infrastructure will fundamentally alter the economic life of China, while establishing its commanding leadership in the next great economic revolution.[16]

The announcement made on December 5, 2013 by Chairman of the State Grid Corporation, Liu Zhenya, of the decision to introduce the energy Internet as the “intercontinental backbone network” for a new economic era marks a game changing moment in the history of China. According to Chairman Lui Zhenya, if we “can firmly grasp the historical opportunity for the Third Industrial Revolution [it] will largely determine our position in future global competition.” Reminding his fellow countrymen that China was largely left behind in both the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, he cautioned that “history should not repeat itself” and observed that “opportunities are fleeting.” With this in mind, Mr. Lui Zhenya called for the “acceleration of the development of the smart grid to promote the development of China’s energy security, clean development, and environmental development, and play an important role in building a moderately prosperous society and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese dream in the process.”[16]

Jeremy Rifkin’s New York Times bestselling book, The Third Industrial Revolution, was published in China in June 2012 and was the number one bestselling business book, currently with approximately 500,000 copies in print.

United Kingdom[edit]

Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne publicly endorsed the need for a Third Industrial Revolution. He constructed a framework for the UK in the "The White Paper for Energy Market Reform."[17][18] The White Paper components includes a Carbon Price Floor (announced in Budget 2011) in an effort to reduce investor uncertainty, putting a fair price on carbon and providing a stronger incentive to invest in low-carbon generation now.[18] It also includes the introduction of new long-term contracts (Feed-in Tariff with Contracts for Difference) to provide stable financial incentives to invest in all forms of low-carbon electricity generation.[18] Also in the White Paper is an Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) set at 450g CO2/kWh to reinforce the requirement that no new coal-fired power stations are built without carbon capture and storage systems, but also to ensure necessary short-term investment in gas can take place.[18] Chris Huhne also includes a Capacity Mechanism, including demand response as well as generation, which is needed to ensure future security of electricity supply.[18]


In 2010, Mr. Rifkin and the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Round Table, along with government of Utrecht, developed a Third Industrial Revolution Master Plan to transition the region into the new economic paradigm.[19]

On June 6, 2010, the "Utrecht2040: Entrepreneurship with New Energy" conference was held, bringing together decision makers from business, including the national energy companies, construction companies and engineering firms, the Utrecht knowledge institutions and government. The Urecht Energy Master Plan was implemented to incorporate the pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution into action steps.[20] Utrecht is one of the fastest growing areas in the Netherlands, as well as all of Europe, and is spearheading the European Union's transition toward biosphere politics, and the shift away from geopolitics. The goal is to implement the pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution to replenish and rejuvenate the earth for generations to come.[21][22]


In 2009, Jeremy Rifkin and the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Round Table contracted with the city of Rome and Mayor Alemanno in order to develop a Third Industrial Revolution Road Map for the region.[23]

On January 24, 2011, the CGIL conference was held in Rome, Italy. The event was organized by TIRES, which is the Third Industrial Revolution European Society. For the first time ever, all the forces of business, those representing the capital and those that represent the work, are united in the same battle for a new energy model that will create jobs and new business opportunities for companies in the area, innovative training for workers, and applied research opportunities for original research organizations. Topics included the discussion about new labor opportunities that will develop and become essential in the new post-carbon society.[24]

United States[edit]

In 2009, Jeremy Rifkin and the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Round Table contracted with the City of San Antonio to create a Third Industrial Revolution Master Plan for the city to transition into the Third Industrial Revolution economic vision and game plan.[25]

In 2009, San Antonio had already taken significant first steps toward a new era of sustainability. The City of San Antonio’s “Mission Verde” and the CPS Energy’s “Vision 2020” both emphasize specific actions that the community has taken to transition into the Third Industrial Revolution.[26][27] Green jobs and adequate financing mechanisms are among the challenges being addressed by the City’s Mission Verde plan. And CPS Energy has already embraced the need for a more energy-efficient economy that is increasingly powered by renewable energy and other clean energy technologies. These actions, coupled with the insights and ideas that emerged from the April 2009 workshop on sustainability (convened by the City of San Antonio and CPoopS Energy) provide the groundwork for specifying how the vision of a Third Industrial Revolution might be applied to the specific conditions and constraints faced by the city of San Antonio.[26]


In 2013, the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais contracted with Jeremy Rifkin and the TIR Consulting Group LLC to develop a Third Industrial Revolution Master Plan to transition the region into a new sustainable economic paradigm.[28][29][not in citation given]


On September 6, 2012, President Nursultan Nazarbayev delivered a speech at the Nazarbayev University indicating the need for a Third Industrial Revolution and an energy internet.[30] In 2013, Kazakhstan contracted Jeremy Rifkin and his team to help steward the emerging Central Asian country into a Third Industrial revolution infrastructure as well as helping with the planning of Expo 2017 currently titled, "Energy Expo 2017."[29]

United Nations[edit]

In 2011, Rifkin's Third Industrial Revolution vision and economic development plan was embraced by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Quoting Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of (UNIDO)and chairman of UN Energy,"[The Third Industrial Revolution is] A provocative strategy for transforming the global energy system. This book may help frame the social and economic solutions for the 1.5 billion poorest people who lack access to clean, reliable, and efficient energy services.”[21] Speaking alongside Mr. Rifkin at a joint press briefing at the UNIDO biennual conference in 2011, Director-General Yumkella said "We believe we are at the beginning of a Third Industrial Revolution and I want all member countries of UNIDO to hear the message and ask the key question, how does this apply to our economies, how can we be part of this revolution, and of course how do we share knowledge, share capital, and investments around the world to make this revolution really happen."


The book has been on the New York Times Best Seller List[31] and has been translated into 19 languages[citation needed]. By 2013, 400,000 copies were in print in China alone.[citation needed] Rifkin has been interviewed on NPR.[32][33]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "RECORDED Conference "Mission Growth - Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution"". European Commission. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Industrial innovation Conference "Mission Growth"". European Commission. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Executive Summary. "An Executive Summary of Jeremy Rifkin’s Keynote Speech for the Mission Growth Summit: Europe at the Lead of the New Industrial Revolution, hosted by The European Commission, May 29th 2012". European Commission. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The EU climate and energy package". European Commission. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "EU climate package explained". BBC. April 9, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  7. ^ Press Release (February 1, 2010). "Stakeholders urge EU institutions to support the "Third Industrial Revolution"". UEAPME. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Leaders urged to spur new industrial revolution". February 1, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Week Ahead 31 January - 6 February 2011". European Parliament. January 31, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  10. ^ "European Council: Post-Carbon Economy Requires Third Industrial Revolution". Fativa, Inc. February 2, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "China’s New Leaders Burnish Image by Revealing Personal Details". Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg. December 24, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "China confirms Li Keqiang as premier". BBC. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang: The new technological revolution needed transformation of government functions". Economic Information Daily. 
  14. ^ 科技部部长万钢:新科技革命需要政府转变职能 (in Chinese). Economic Information Daily. 2013-09-23. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  15. ^ 汪洋分别会见澳大利亚和美国客人. (in Chinese). 24 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Liu Zhenya (5 December 2013). 科技日报:智能电网与第三次工业革命. (in Chinese). Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Huhne, Chris (July 12, 2011). "Planning our electric future: a White Paper for secure, affordable and low-carbon electricity". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Huhne, Chris (July 12, 2011). "Planning our electric future: a white paper for secure, affordable and low-carbon energy". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ Rifkin, Jeremy. "Road Map for Utrecht to Transition into the Third Industrial Revolution". 
  20. ^ Rifkin, Jeremy; Easley, Nick; Laitner, Skip; Bailey, Tom; Boyer, Jeffrey; Wolkenfelt, Marco. "Utrecht Roadmap To A Third Industrial Revolution". The Office of Jeremy Rifkin. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Partnership with utilities and the impact of liberalisation". Ambit b.v. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  22. ^ de Heus, Wouter. "Jeremy Rifkin Closes Off Visit To Utrecht". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  23. ^ Rifkin, Jeremy. "A Third Industrial Revolution Master Plan for Rome". 
  24. ^ Consoli, Angelo (January 24, 2011). "Conference in Rome CGIL-Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution, jobs through the sustainable energy". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  25. ^ Rifkin, Jeremy. "San Antonio Leading the Way to a Third Industrial Revolution". 
  26. ^ a b "Mission Verde: Building a 21st Century Economy". Office of Mayor Phil Hardberger. January 28, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Vision 2020 and Beyond". CPS Energy. October 5, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Vers la 3ème révolution industrielle en Nord-Pas de Calais: une première en France!" (in French). CCI Grande Lille. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Moorhead, Shawn (January 2, 2013). "Third Industrial Revolution News". 3iR Newsletter. 
  30. ^ Tusupbekova, Laura; Kuryatov, Vladimir (September 7, 2012). "Kazakhstan on its way to the society of knowledge". Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  31. ^ "NY Times Best Seller List". NY Times. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  32. ^ Kara Hamilton's 'Innovation Hub'
  33. ^ Jeremy Rifkin: Power to the People (38:56)

External links[edit]