Beginning on Sunday, September 12, 2010, the XXI World Energy Congress kicked off in Montreal, Quebec, with a group of oil-soaked Greenpeace demonstrators calling for Canada's government to "Stop developing tar sands!" Surprisingly, many of those in attendance are spouting similar slogans. While the collection of presenters and nearly 5,000 attendees are represented by a number of oil and gas companies, the predominant population includes representatives from renewable energy firms, officials from such organizations as the United Nations and the World Bank, and a wide array of government delegates from a host of developing countries. The main discussion for this international forum is on the new concept of "energy poverty." Despite a nation's ability to work towards developing infrastructure, raising its quality of life, and steering clear of widespread corruption and civil unrest, energy has now been lumped in with the already overburdened list of basic human rights. Those who don't have it are now considered "poor" (approximately 2 billion worldwide). Now, I'm not a fascist. However, I do believe that anything worth having is worth working for. With the concept of "energy poverty" comes several troubling, underlying assumptions. Namely, that regions like North America and Europe have had it too good for too long. Additionally, there exists a number of developing countries that maintain an ample amount of resources both natural (coal, oil, natural gas) and renewable (high quality wind and sunlight), but they lack the means of instituting infrastructure to support these industries. For anyone willing to connect the dots, the message is clear: wealthy nations need to make sacrifices to bring developing nations on par with the global energy scheme. Let's look at it a different way. Sead Vilogoric, head of Energy Industries, UN Economic Commission for Europe, said, "Nearly all countries considered to be emerging markets subsidize oil production." The inference is that the true value of oil is disguised by the vast amount of subsidies that currently exist globally. An attendee asked the question of Vilogoric, "Just to clarify, you're saying that subsidies are actually creating new carbon markets?" Vilogoric replied, "Yes, tons of carbon." [?] Now, this exchange remained somewhat innocuous until Attila Toth, SunEdison, explained the advent of solar technology in a different session. Basically, Toth claimed that solar was a US $1.7 trillion market in 2007. SunEdison's largest industrial scale plant is located Rovigo, Italy, which has a capacity of 72 MW with a footprint of 700 acres. He went on to say, "Solar accounts for less than 0.5% of the world's energy mix." In the end Toth said, "what is needed for solar to rapidly gain in market share is extensive short-term tax credits and access to infrastructure to level the playing field." Now, what's the difference? On a free market basis, renewable forms of energy don't stack up. In fact, if they promised to provide a multiple of trillion-dollar markets, wouldn't they be taking market share on their own? I do not claim to be an economist nor am I an expert on policy. However, it is interesting to see the transparent nature in which renewable energy interests attack the historical placement of oil and natural gas. Without doubt, countries lacking natural resources should be assisted in developing their renewable energy potential. Nevertheless, calling for an end to proven methods of helping developing countries develop much needed oil and gas (only to apply those same subsidies to renewable forms of energy) seems hypocritical. The bottom line: if Greenpeace would have known that many of the WEC institutions they were protesting were also marching to the left, they could have spent the day on Franklin Street buying T-shirts with cool slogans.