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    During the World Economic Forum in Davos, on January 20th, I was honored to discuss the “Around the World without Fuel or Fear” with Al Gore and André Borschberg.   Here is the resumé of “Around the World with no Fuel or Fear” discussion:   A warm introduction by Al Gore: many believe that the climate crisis is the number one threat to the global economy.   He draws the connection between what happened in Paris and what will happen at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the coming days with the “Climate Delivery Action Agenda”. He contextualizes the WEF to other events in the past year, such as the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21). The results from the Paris Conference sent a signal to the WEF, making it one of the main topics in Davos this year.   Al Gore asked the following questions: Must we change? Can we change? Will we change? How will we accomplish the change that we can and must accomplish?   Bertrand acknowledges that the transition from a fuel-reliant society to a non-fuel-reliant society is demanding, however if society undergoes a paradigm shift, we can embrace the benefits of this transition: job creation, profit, economic development - even for emerging economies.   André exemplifies the shift in the strategy that had to occur during the creation phase of the solar airplane. They went from approaching an aviation company that told them their idea was impossible to approaching a boat company that had no expertise in aviation!   Bertrand reinforces the fact that we are free to think and dream, and we must not stop thinking about the future.   Bertrand discusses that we must embrace change in order to move forward and see the beauty in new solutions and the future.   André discusses the role of mind-set amongst change and the need to prepare for the worst when exposed to the unknown.   Watch the entire blog post here.
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    Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have been awarded the Aerosuisse Award and the Master’s Medal 2015 for their outstanding achievements in aeronautics.   It’s a first! Never before had the Swiss federation Aerosuisse and the British Honourable Company of Air Pilots rewarded solar pilots for their achievements. Although half of the Round-The-World tour still remains to be completed, both organisations decided “to applaud the courage, tenacity, and innovative spirit” of our two pilots. It has been twelve years since Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg embarked on this incredible human and scientific adventure, which has undoubtedly brought great progress to the field of solar aviation.   The solar aviation journey began with model aircrafts in the 1970s, followed by the first human flights in the 1980s. In 2010, Solar Impulse 1 was the first airplane to fly through the night with a pilot on board. Solar Impulse 2 then went a step further in 2015, breaking eight world records, including the longest distance and duration for solar-powered flight, as well as the longest non-stop solo flight in aviation history.   During the last few weeks, the focus has been on the Paris Climate Conference COP21, which resulted in a historical agreement signed by 195 Parties, and aiming to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2100. The timing is, therefore, perfect to pay homage to an airplane which seeks to promote clean technologies and ignite change in political action and legislation to reduce carbon emissions. The Aerosuisse Award has been bestowed every year since 2005 to those strongly engaged in Swiss aeronautics. On October 15th, André Borschberg was presented with the award for Bertrand and he by Aerosuisse’s President, Paul Kurrus, in Lucerne, Switzerland.   As for the Honourable Company of Air Pilots Master’s Medal, awarded since 1976, it aims to promote achievement and excellence in all sectors of aviation. Michèle Piccard, Bertrand’s wife, and Ela Borschberg, André’s daughter, had the pleasure of attending the ceremony in London on October 29th to collect the medals, as the pilots couldn’t be present themselves. These two remarkable awards add even more significance to the Solar Brothers’ list of accomplishments and they are quite likely not the last ones they will receive, considering our sky-high ambitions for the future! This blog post has been originally published here.
    Double Award for the Two Solar Brothers
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    WHAT: Solar Impulse pilots and founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are at the Paris Climate Conference COP21! WHY: To promote clean technologies and use Solar Impulse as an example to help reach an agreement at COP21. HOW: By presenting a list of concrete solutions you can find here. WTF: A small part of the team is there to cover from the inside. Follow the adventures of Solar Agents 001 and 002 from Day 1. TLDR: Strong and ambitious draft, Main points of the agreement, Debating responsibilities and carbon pricing, Live with the Spindrift 2 trimaran crew, Sean Paul performance, Awarding the Lighthouse Activities of the Momentum for Change   Agents 001 and 002 sit down at their regular café, order two espressos, and start reading the day’s news on their screens. Yesterday, Laurent Fabius, President of #COP21, presented the draft of the agreement, and this morning, the whole world is talking about it. A 001: Nature interviewed Christina Figueres, Executive secretary of the UNFCCC, yesterday. She did a recap of the main points that the final agreement has to cover, namely: Protect the most vulnerable Be fair to all countries, leave no one behind Send a signal to the private sector, capital markets, research and technology, that they need to accelerate the shift Establish the process throughout which the next 10-20 years, we will be able to truly tell whether we are progressing or not   What have you got? A 002: An article by Domian Ryan. A 001: Who’s that? A 002: The head of International Policy of The Climate Group, an influential NGO. He speaks of “a strong and ambitious draft”. A 001: That’s encouraging! Fabius was optimistic yesterday, but I personally didn’t have the courage to go through the draft’s 29 pages, and so didn’t really know what to think of it. A 002: Yeah, after all the criticisms at the beginning of the week, it’s reassuring to see that progress is being made. Domian Ryan nevertheless reminds negotiators that the agreement can’t sacrifice any of the points mentioned by Figueres, otherwise it won’t work.   A 001: Apparently there’s still a lot of squabbling over some issues. Le Monde reports that Malaysia, speaking in the name of twenty or so developing countries, considers that the draft challenges the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It’s the backbone of the 1992 climate change convention which initiated the COP conferences, and states that climate action is first the responsibility of the developed countries considering they are responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions. A 002: Hmmm, and I imagine oil producing countries are also in disagreement with some elements of the draft? A 001: Spot on. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for instance, who make a lot of money with oil, are totally against the idea of including carbon pricing as one of the measures. A 002: I must be tough being President of the COP and having to listen and take into account everyone’s grievances. A 001: Especially when you know the world’s future depends on it! A 002: It goes to show that Bertrand Piccard is completely right when he declares that we need to offer both rich and poor countries a share in the returns on investment. A 001: Yeah, if the nations aren’t all on board, there’s no point. A 002, checking his watch: We better get going. Bertrand Piccard is going to be talking live with the crew of the Spindrift 2 trimaran, currently crossing the Indian Ocean, and you know how long it takes to get to Le Bourget… At around midday, sailor Dona Bertarelli and pilot Bertrand Piccard warmly greet each other as the communication begins. D.B: I hope you’ll have good news to give us at the end of COP21!   B.P: What I can tell you is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm in the political and industrial world here, but what we now need is for negotiators to make concessions, and not to stick to their positions. Agents 001 and 002 admire the boat smoothly sailing the impressive ocean. The crew’s goal is to beat the previous record of the Jules Verne Trophy, held by French yachtsman Loïck Peyron. For that, they have to circumnavigate the globe and be back in France by the 6th of January.     Later that day, Bertrand has been asked to give out their awards to the Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activity winners. As they try to find their way towards the room, they run into singer Sean Paul who’s got a message for them:   Agent 001 wants to take a selfie, but Agent 002 pulls him away, they have to rush. A 001, whispering as they sit down in the public: What does that fancy name hide? A 002: Momentum for Change was created by the United Nations to shine light on the most inspiring and transformational mitigation and adaptation activities all over the world. And they called them the “Lighthouse Activities”. A 001: I’m guessing it’s because they show other people the way to tackle climate change. A 002: Probably. In any case they prove that we don’t need to wait for a global agreement to start acting! A 001: No wonder they’ve asked Bertrand to preside the ceremony then. He and André Borschberg are always repeating, and rightfully so, that there’s no time to waste. That we already have so many technologies, including the ones on Solar Impulse, that can be implemented in our daily lives to cut our energy consumption by half. And who are the awards going to this year? A 002: I honestly can’t remember. All I know is that there are 16 projects distributed into 4 categories: Urban Poor, Women for Results, Financing for Climate-Friendly Investment, Information and Communications Technology Solutions. The ceremony begins, and Bertrand welcomes United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.   The first project to be rewarded is E-waste, an initiative which trains waste pickers in India to collect electronic waste, such as computers and mobile phones, for safe disposal and recycling. 15 projects later… A 001: Wait, look, Sean Paul is getting on stage with Bertrand! I’m so getting my selfie this time.   To be continued… And to end the day well, the agents leave you with Nature speaking through the voice of actrice Reese Witherspoon. This post has been originally published here.
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    WHAT: Solar Impulse pilots and founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are at the Paris Climate Conference COP21! WHY: To promote clean technologies and use Solar Impulse as an example to help reach an agreement at COP21. HOW: By presenting a list of concrete solutions you can find here. WTF: A small part of the team is there to cover from the inside. Follow the adventures of Solar Agents 001 and 002 from Day 1. TLDR: Bertrand Piccard discusses negotiations with Laurent Fabius, John Kerry defines climate change as the most extraordinary market opportunity in history, The draft of the agreement is presented, François Hollande visits the Grand Palais and the Solar Impulse model   After reading their latest reports, M is a little worried that Agents 001 and 002 may be planning something in their own corner. What? He doesn’t know, but he has a bad feeling, and is rarely mistaken. He thus decides to send Q, head of the R&D division and renowned geek, to spy on them for a day.   Q turns on the recorder in his pocket, positions the microphone under his shirt, and tries to look as unsuspicious as possible. I’ve just arrived on the site of the Bourget and the place is swarming with people. It makes me slightly dizzy.   If I could scan what’s going on in their little heads I imagine I would find the recurrent anticipation of the draft agreement which will be presented today at 1 pm. As planned, Bertrand Piccard is arriving with Agents 001 and 002. Q lets them pass by before following in their footsteps. He takes care of staying a couple of meters behind. They’re entering a room and heading straight towards Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister and President of COP21. They all shake hands and Piccard sits down with him. They begin discussing the Paris negotiations and Piccard asks how he and his team can help the negotiators. “You’re already immensely helping. By inspiring people with the Solar Impulse adventure and by showing that you have technologies than we can use now to tackle climate change”, answers Fabius.   Nothing particular concerning the agents. Agent 001 is furiously typing on his phone, taking notes I imagine, while Agent 002 is standing in a corner and paying close attention to the conversation. I wonder what’s going on in that brain of his. I’m not letting him out of my sight. Getting back to the main characters of the scene, Fabius is saying that commitment in the private sector is already a done deal, and that what we now need is an intergovernmental agreement. He seems rather positive about the turnout, considering that 185 countries have pledged to reduce their pollution. They represent 96% of global carbon emissions, compared to 15% for the Kyoto protocol. Let me calculate… a 81% increase in 18 years. I like how those numbers mirror each other. They’re getting up and shaking hands again. Fabius asks Piccard to continue focusing on solutions and being so enthusiastic. I quote: “The people and the media are undoubtedly influenced by voices like yours”. Damn, they’re coming my way! Q hides behind a door and holds his breath. As the solar team exits the room, he catches Agent 001 asking Piccard what he thought of Fabius, and the pilot painting the portrait of a man truly committed to the success of the agreement and concretely implicated in the negotiations. When Q comes out of his hiding place, they are nowhere to be seen. “M is going to kill me”, he shivers. He spends the rest of the morning restlessly exploring every nook and cranny of the Bourget.   At midday, he gives up, and goes to the nearest sandwich bar to get a little food in his stomach before mustering the courage to call M. And there they are! Only a few meters away in the line. Solar team spotted! I’m not blinking for the rest of the day. They all wolf down their lunch in silence. I’m now following them into the International New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference. American Secretary of State John Kerry is arriving on stage. Agent 001 raises his phone above the crowd to take pictures.   Piccard, and most of the assembly, clap loudly as John Kerry states that climate change “is the most extraordinary market opportunity in the history of mankind”. I hear Piccard whispering to Agent 001: “I’m glad to see he agrees with my third principle” with a wink. Agent 002 grins when the Secretary of State declares that it is even a far bigger opportunity than the information technology boom in the United States. A gentleman in the assembly asks him whether he thinks putting the Paris deal before Congress would strengthen it. Mr. Kerry replies he believes not considering the gridlock that increasingly paralyzes the Senate, as well as the number of climate sceptics among members of Congress. How people can deny climate change when faced with the reality of numbers and statistics baffles me. The maths never lie. Q stops listening and meticulously examines Agents 001 and 002. But still no sketchy behavior… He’s starting to wonder if M isn’t being paranoiac. The speech is over, and everybody is rushing out to get to Laurent Fabius’ announcement in time. It’s THE place to be today. I’m caught up in the crowd but keeping my eyes on the agents. We arrive in a room dubbed “La Seine”, like the river flowing through Paris. People take a seat and whisper ceremoniously with their neighbours. I can see Laurent Fabius coming in through the back. Silence in the room.   As he explains that negotiators have come up with the draft of a “legally binding, balanced and sustainable” agreement, people around me approve. It’s only 29 pages, compared to the previous 43-page version, and ¾ of the points in brackets have been dealt with.   He’s now going a little more into the details of what has been approved and what remains to be achieved. But it’s still hard to know exactly what will come out in the final agreement on Friday evening. As he told Piccard this morning, he remains convinced a deal can be found in the two days left. Agents 001 and 002 are paying close attention but look completely exhausted. The staff is now handing out copies of the draft to all members of the audience. Not very environmentally-friendly all that paper if you ask me… The Paris Committee will meet up again at 8 pm once everyone has read and worked on it, before pulling an allnighter. I’m glad I’m not one of the negotiators!   After hanging around for a while to talk with and encourage the rest of the crowd, they leave the Bourget and take the RER towards the city center. An hour and a half later, they finally arrive at the Grand Palais, where François Hollande will soon be taking a tour of the solutions presented in the exposition. The clock ticks by, slowly… We’ve been locked in the Grand Palais for an hour now, and still no sign of the President. Agent 001 is Skyping other agents in Lausanne and showing them what the Grand Palais looks like at the moment. He’s laughing a lot, and Agent 002 joins him to explain what’s going to happen tomorrow. Ah, here comes Hollande! After stopping at several stands, he arrives in front of the Solar Impulse model. Piccard proudly talks him through the plane’s technologies and how implementing them on the ground could cut our energy consumption by half.   Hollande is moving on, and I hear Agent 001 announcing that the day’s over. Great, I’m out of here! Q arrives at his hotel, and throws himself on his bed. He spends most of his days sitting behind his computer and isn’t used to so much physical activity. And all for nothing. Agents 001 and 002 are clearly following M’s orders. M is getting old, which might explain why his instinct isn’t as sharp as it used to be. In any case Q is going back to his lab tomorrow, and he can’t wait.   This post has been originally published here.
    Tenth Day at COP21
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    Agents 001 and 002 are having dinner with two Parisian friends tonight, Thomas and Alice. They sit down in a one of their favorite bistros of the quartier Latin and order good meat and wine. Both of them are very eager to learn what the agents have grappled from the inside of #COP21.   Alice: So, tell us about COP21 guys. It must be so exciting to be there! A 002: It really is. And this morning at the Sustainable Innovation Forum #SIF15 was particularly interesting. Agent 002 takes a bite of his meal and Agent 001 takes over. A 001: Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg were on stage with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz for the opening discussion of the “Energy and Low Carbon Innovation” event.   Thomas: I watched that live this morning. He was really enjoying himself wasn’t he? At one point the mediator asked him if he still had a bit of time before leaving for the Bourget and he replied: “I’m having fun so I’ll stay!” A 001: Yes they had a good discussion going. He also made everyone laugh when he quoted Indian entrepreneur Harish Hande who said ten years ago: “solar energy is too expensive for the rich, but very affordable for the poor”, before adding: “and now it’s even affordable for the rich!”   Thomas: For me, the best part was when Bertrand came on stage with his old helmet and telephone to prove the absurdity of still using ancient technologies to insulate our houses and build our cars. And when he declared: “The material that we need, we all have it but we don’t use it: it’s our brain.” A 001: Yeah he takes the props of his latest video everywhere with him at COP21. Alice: I don’t think I’ve seen that video. A 002, with his mouth full: What? Oh we have to show her, the beginning is just epic! Agent 001 is already a step ahead of him and sending Alice a text with the link to the video.   Alice: Neat. I’d never actually asked myself how old the energy technologies we use today were. 100 years, that’s kind of scary… But coming back to Moniz, I’m curious to know more about his vision on innovation. May I remind you all that the USA is the second most polluting country in the world. A 001: I’ll let Agent 002 explain, I really want to dig in to this entrecôte! Agent 002 takes a sip of wine before taking on. A 002: He highlighted the need for innovation not only in technology, but also in business models, consumer behavior and policies. For instance, many policies in the US are still based on the energy situation of the 1970s, which doesn’t reflect the current world we live in. Thomas: That’s for sure! And in terms of concrete innovations, I recall him mentioning something about energy kites. Does that ring a bell? A 002: Yeah, he was referring to a Google project called Makani, which is developing energy kites, a new type of wind turbine that can access stronger and steadier winds at higher altitudes to generate more energy with less materials. Here, I can show you the video of how it works. Agent 002 pulls out his phone and starts the video.   A 002: He also reminded everyone that with R&D we could double LED efficiency… A 001, raising his fork to make a point: LEDs that are already projected to save Americans $26 billion a year, all while cutting their lighting electricity use by half, by the way A 002: … As well as continue to reduce the cost of energy storage, which would allow a broader market penetration of electric cars.   Thomas: I completely agree that innovation is crucial, but I think Bertrand and André are right by saying we can’t wait to implement the clean technologies that already exist. Doing so would divide the world’s energy consumption by two! Speaking of which, I read Bertrand’s 7 principles the other day, and he makes you realize that tackling climate change is above all a question of positive mindset. Alice: Sorry to interrupt your very serious discussion, but you have to check this out. A 001: I love the way he illustrated this morning’s discussion!   Thomas: Talking about cool content, I was checking out the US Energy Department’s website while Ernest Moniz talked, and came across an interactive graphic that lets you see how much CO2 each country from COP21 produces. The difference between developed and underdeveloped nations is really astounding. Here, I’ll send you it, it can come in handy. Thomas sends both agents and Alice a text with the link. All: Cheers! Thomas suddenly notices Agent 001’s watch as he reaches for a piece of bread in front of him. Thomas: Nice watch. Rollex? A 001: Omega. They’re one of our partners, and, among other things, they built the smart energy dispatchers of Solar Impulse 2 as well as the precision instruments used during flight. Thomas: Beautiful, does it do anything? A 001, winks: It tells the time, and has a rather loud alarm. Thomas nods approvingly (he obviously hasn’t seen the latest Bond movie) while Alice checks her Twitter feed. Alice: Concerning your partners, have you seen that the insurance company Swiss Re is actively participating in COP21? A 001: No, I wasn’t aware of that. What did they participate it in? Alice: Apparently they were present at Action Day to underline the necessity of advancing climate resilience.  A 001: Good to know. And while we’re at it, you two should take a look at the Flight for the Futurevideos they made about Solar Impulse. They really manage to convey the emotions of the adventure.  Thomas: Can we watch one? Agent 001 searches for the latest episode, turns his phone screen so that everybody can see and presses play.   A 002: It’s encouraging to see that so many of our partners are taking part in COP21. The pilots also met up with Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay, today.   Thomas: How did they help you with the project? A 002: They created this incredible component that enabled us to optimize the energy density of our batteries, and managed to make the plane’s engines 94% efficient: a record rate! Thomas: Which means 6% energy loss versus 70% in normal thermal motors. Astonishing… Alice: I was listening to France Culture on my way to work this morning and heard something about reducing CO2 emissions in aeronautics. It made me think of you guys. A 001: Oh yeah, can you remember what they were saying? Alice: From what I understood, airports are becoming more and more congested which means that the time airplanes have to spend on the runway before takeoff and after landing is increasing. So Safran had the idea of implementing little electric motors to allow aircrafts to drive around the airport without using any fuel. According to them, that would result in a 4% economy of CO2 emissions, and a $200,000 economy for a plane that would fly around 2000 times a year and spend an average 17 minutes on the runway. A 002: Why not, but as André always reminds us, only 3% of our CO2 emissions come from our activities in the sky. The other 97% are produced here on Earth, so that’s where we should concentrate most of our efforts. That’s why in his latest blog on what needs to happen at COP21, he insists on the importance of applying the technologies of Solar Impulse, like LEDs, efficient insulation, light materials etc., to everyday life. While Agent 002 continues to present André’s thoughts on climate change, the others become distracted by the waiter arriving with their fondants au chocolat and crèmes brulées. They are quickly absorbed by their desert, and after having taken a few spoonfuls, the conversation switches to everyone’s plans for Christmas and latest episodes of their love lives. A 001: The bill please. Before heading off, they take a smoke on the sidewalk while admiring Paris by night. Thomas: By the way, how is your Future is Clean campaign going? A 002: We closed the votes last week, and during several events of COP21, the pilots talked about the five solutions to tackle climate change that were most voted for. Thomas: Are the top solutions still on the site? A 002, blowing a smoke ring: Yes sir. A 001, yawning: It was great seeing you guys, but we should get going, we have to get up super early tomorrow.   The four friends bid each other goodbye and promise to give each other some news soon (even though they all know they won’t).   This blog has been originally published here.