February 6th, 2019 by Tina Casey
We have the wind. We have the solar. We have the EVs and the bioplastics. The big question is, do we have all this great green tech in time to save the planet? Well, that depends on who you ask. Action on climate change has been a long time coming, but momentum is finally beginning to build up to a tipping point. With that in mind, this week CleanTechnica will be reporting on the scene at “Climate ‘How:’ How to Engage Society and Deploy Decarbonization,” aka the 5th International Symposium on Sustainability in Venice, February 7 and 8.
Action On Climate Change: When Turning Off The Lights Is Not Good Enough
One sign that a new wave of action on climate change is coming has to do with who is asking whom to do what.
In the not too distant past, saving energy was the basic idea, which basically meant remembering to turn off the lights when leaving the room.
That’s pretty weak tea, but here in the US even the mention of energy efficiency is enough to set off a firestorm of protest among the usual suspects. Remember the light bulb wars? No?
Well, to make a long story short, the anti-efficiency side of the US political spectrum eventually lost the light bulb battle. However, they are still carrying the anti-efficiency torch.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving on. Decarbonization is no longer just a matter of you and me yelling at each other to turn off the lights. Global economic forces have been chipping away at the high-carbon economy for the past several years, and a mighty wave of decarbonization is beginning to take shape.
The lineup for Climate “How” demonstrates how the global movement has leapfrogged over political opposition (okay, so Republican opposition) in the US. The main sponsors of the symposium are the high tech materials company Alcantara (which graciously sponsored CleanTechnica for the trip), and Venice International University.
Alcantara should ring a bell or two with some of you Tesla fans out there. The company is known for its automotive interiors and there was a bit of fur flying around the blogosphere last year when some Model 3 customers received their order without the promised Alcantara fabric. Who knew!
Last year, CleanTechnica reported on Alcantara’s strategy of establishing sustainability as key element in luxury branding, so it will be interesting to see what the company has been up to this past year. Its previous actions include achieving cradle-to-grave carbon neutrality through offsets as well as behind-the-walls facility upgrades.
Who Is Taking Action On Climate Change?
Anyways, that’s just for starters. The global organization Connect4Climate is also involved in the symposium, which means that the World Bank Group, the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development are also involved along with 500 partners spanning non-government organizations, businesses, media, and schools, among others. So, there’s that.
As for the speakers lineup and presentations, that’s where things really get interesting.
Giulia C. Braga, the Program Manager of Connect4Climate, is participating, as is former Climate Change Editor at Nature, Gabrielle Walker. Georg Kell, the founder and former Director of the United Nations Global Compact, is taking part. Kell’s current project is the sustainable asset management company Arabesque, where he is Chairman.
The program also features input from oil and gas companies, featuring BP and Equinor ASA and something called the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. I know, right? That’s not quite as oxymoronish as it may seem. BP may be a little behind the curve, but Royal Dutch Shell is among those diversifying into clean tech of late, including wind power and EV charging.
There’s also the whole issue of reducing carbon emissions related to fossil fuel operations, so keep that in mind. Shell and other oil giants are still ramping up their petrochemical operations to take advantage of growing demand for plastics, so there will still be a lot of activity in that quarter even after the transportation sector decarbonizes.
Conspicuously absent is anyone representing the coal industry, but maybe they’re buried in the program somewhere. If you can spot them, drop us a note in the comment thread.
Also, we’ll be reaching out to buttonhole some of the participants, so put your requests in the comment thread, too (here’s another link to the agenda).
Meanwhile, that petrochemical thing might not be such a great hedge against decarbonization after all. Aside from companies like Alcantara that are looking for sustainable alternatives, a plastic reducing counter-movement seems to be developing quite rapidly among global packaged goods companies. Just saying.
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Image (cropped): via Alcantara.
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