Rifkin wrote 19 bestsellers, advises the UN and the EU on climate issues and served as an advisor to world leaders such as the German chancellor Merkel, former French president Sarkozy and former prime minister of Spain and EU chairman Zapatero. According to the European Energy Review no other author or thinker has had more influence on the EU’s ambitious climate and energy policy than Rifkin. He has given lectures at many Fortune 500 companies, hundreds of governments, civil society organizations and universities over the past thirty five years.
Rifkin has put a strong focus on climate change since the eighties. He is considered to be the creator and architect of the so called ‘Third Industrial Revolution’, a long-term plan for a sustainable economy built on renewable energy, distributed equally across the globe. It provides both a solution to the economic and energy crisis as well as environmental and climate change.
In his vision all buildings and homes in the world can serve as power plants where solar & wind energy, hydropower and geothermal energy can be generated. This power is distributed through a worldwide smart grid - comparable to the internet - and stored in hydrogen cells, which can be used in electric fuel cells for vehicles. According to Rifkin, this will introduce a new era of distributed capitalism. His plan has been embraced by both the European Union and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
In several interviews Rifkin has spoken about a ‘defining moment for the human race’. ,,Our entire civilisation is carbon built. We now know the outer limits of globalisation based on these conventional energies. These energies are clearly ending and the whole infrastructure built on them is now on life support. Climate change is running at a much higher speed then we all think. The end of human civilisation is near. Therefore we need an economic game plan for the whole human race,” Rifkin says.
He thinks a combination of renewable energy, generated in buildings themselves, and smart distribution can jumpstart the global economy and put a stop to climate change. ,,The Netherlands could be a major player in advancing the third industrial revolution across the EU and across the world,” Rifkin says.