The Swiss president, Mrs Micheline Calmy-Reyspoke at the official opening ceremony of the Geneva Motor Show this morning 8.3.2007.
Unlike the two other speakers, she started with the International Women's Day, today, 8 March 2007. Over the years women have moved forward from auto bonnet decoration into the driving seat, Mrs Calmy-Rey said, even into government, one can say.
Women have a different approach, they drive better and she herself loves driving, she added.
She steered towards the environmental issues in the second part of her speech. Technology, innovation, were needed to ensure progress and a continued place of the car in society, without endangering the future of our children and grandchildren, she said.
"We are holding the destiny of the planet in our hands." So gouvernment must stimulate research and development so as to make cars less pollutant and cleaner cars more attractive, was Mrs Calmy-Rey's message.
"We have to preserve this world as intact as possible and make the car green and sexy" were the Swiss president's fianl words. Applause!
Then the dignitaries set off on humanity's oldest means of auto-motive transportation for a tour along the stands - on foot.
Whilst following the group more or less closely - in Switzerland you can get at arm-length distance to any dignitary - I spoke with others. Such as a hostess at a stand of luxury cars, a student at Geneva University, as it appeared.
She frowned in surprise and disbelief, when I told her that the some people qualify this motor show as being focused on green and clean cars.
People come to admire the latest and most flashy models. And the companies come to sell what they think the public wants. It's business. Indeed, Geneva goes vroom. People love it.
"Clean and green" may be "the salon themes" in the dignitories' speeches. But on the shop floor it's business as usual. Luxury hybrids and hydrogen cars are not for the masses. They won't meet the EU's proposed CO2 emissions' standards.
A fuel-efficient car has four wheels and an engine, basically. Remember the days you had to crank up and down the door window? That kind of car was relatively resource and emissions-friendly. That car could be a transitory model to a restructured society that runs without cars, a sustainable society.
At the end of her walk around the motor show, Mrs Calmy-Rey gave selected interviews, to the mass media, in a small and unpretentious corner of the show.
Shielded off by security I couldn't ask my burning question: what would the car look like in 50 years from now? What place would it have in society?
So I am imagining a possible answer. The car will be much different from today, running on renewable fuels with "zero emissions".
"One will not stop the automobile," Mrs Calmy-Rey said at the opening ceremony.
Maybe people won't. But possibly the environment will stop both the car and us, when fossil fuels run dry and biofuels lose the battle against the need for food? When climate change disrupts traffic infrastructures and all hands are needed on deck to clear up the mess after inundations?
I don't believe I'm a pessimist. I'm simply trying to look further ahead than the next ten or twenty years. Possibly China will never overtake us, because of resource limits and environmental depletion and pollution. And since the earth may not support further economic growth for much longer.
I love the Geneva motor show. A great place to learn and meet people.