Bertrand Piccard talks about the true power of innovation for climate action

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The visionary innovator who flew 40,000 km in a solar-fuelled plane urged companies to pursue revolutionary ideas as the only way to truly achieve a paradigm shift and fight climate change.

Bertrand Piccard, President of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, Explorer, and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation delivered a keynote speech during the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum where he stated that the biggest problem in the fight against climate change is that “we are prisoners of old ways of thinking”.

He said: “People believe that the future will be an extrapolation of the past, which is never the case. So we are prisoners of old ways of thinking, old paradigms that prevent us from innovation”.

Talking about Solar Impulse, he explained that the aviation industry considered the creation of an aeroplane that could be light enough in solar cells and fly with no fuel impossible and this is why the engineers for the innovative endeavour came from a shipyard and not by an aeroplane constructor.

“When we talk about innovation, it’s not a question of having new ideas. It’s a question of getting rid of old habits”, he remarked.

He added: “At least what you believe is the future. Because when I was flying over the Pacific and the Atlantic, I thought I was in the future”.

“I was looking at the sun that was running my four electric motors with huge propellers, there was no sound, no noise, no pollution, no fuel, and I could fly forever”.

He explained that even though the experience seemed futuristic, he realised that this is not the future; on the contrary, it is the pure present, as this is exactly the kind of opportunities that today’s technologies offer.

“This is when I understood that the rest of the world is in the past; in old polluting and inefficient systems”, he said.

Internal combustion engines, badly insulated houses, outdated systems of heating and cooling and inefficient grids are some of the industrial processes that are causing climate change are some of the example he stated to make the point of inefficiency as one of the main causes of climate change.

Talking about his new initiative ‘World Alliance for Efficient Solutions’, which launched ahead the COP23 climate talks, he invited entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies who can demonstrate clean innovation ideas to submit their ideas which will then be presented to policy makers to demonstrate the power of innovation.

“We have to use all the reality of the technologies we have today in order to encourage the governments to make much more ambitious energy policies and environmental targets.  Because this is possible today, and if you want to have growth, you need to shift to clean innovation”.

All the ideas will be assessed by Solar Foundation’s partners, and the best 1000 ideas will be labelled as Efficient Solutions and presented to governments, businesses and institutions at COP24 next year.

He said: “We are here to support all the solutions that you can have and bring them to the key decision makers’ level to change something”.

“All the solutions today are so interesting that we can change the world without changing our habits. This is what gives me hope”.

You can read more about Solar Impulse and the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions here

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