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How to “make our country great again”
16/11 - 2016

How to “make our country great again”

Here at COP22, a lot of questions arose about the American policy toward climate change after the recent presidential elections. Could we consider the newly elected President as an opportunity for an ambitious energy transition? If he wants to "make America great again," he has no other choice than to massively implement renewable energies and clean technologies. To protect the environment? Not at all; just to stimulate growth.

If we have very little growth today in the rich countries, it's because beside the latest smartphone, the industry doesn't have many new things to offer to consumers. Now imagine – on the contrary – the enormous potential market represented by all the modern clean and efficient technologies! That is interesting for the investors, the industry and the consumers, as it would allow them to reduce their energy bill each month.

If we exchanged combustion engines with 30% efficiency by hybrid or even electric motors with 97% efficiency; incandescent lightbulbs by efficient LEDs; old heating systems by heat pumps. If we replaced inefficient distribution systems of energy by smart grids and better insulated our houses to make them energy neutral. Without even speaking of the profit we can make with solar and wind power plants, which now produce electricity more cheaply than oil, gas or coal.



It’s clear that if viewed through the lens of the protection of the environment only, many people won’t be interested in climate change let alone COP22. Climate deniers more specifically won’t even see the point. But today the goal is no longer to be eco-logical, but simply logical. Even if climate change didn’t exist, clean technologies would make sense.

Clean technologies offer practical solutions that allow bridging the gap between ecology and economy.  Solutions that can protect the environment, improve health, increase energy efficiency or save natural resources, while creating jobs, generating profit and sustaining growth.

We have to change the angle with which we look at the problem: if we understand that all the clean technology solutions available to fight against climate change are profitable, support economic growth and create new industrial markets, then we should all be interested, and in particular a business man such as the US President-elect.  

Also last week and during COP22, the day following the US presidential election in fact, the Solar Impulse Foundation launched the World Alliance for Clean Technologies. Less than four months after completing the first solar flight around the world, this Alliance is a second phase in the realization of my vision that clean technologies can accomplish impossible goals and offer tangible solutions to solve many of the challenges facing global society today.

As I said upon the final landing in Abu Dhabi: if an airplane can fly around the world without a drop of fuel, clean technologies can undoubtedly be implemented on the ground to make a cleaner, more efficient and richer world.

This is why I would be very interested to meet President Trump and help him make America great again, with clean and energy efficient technologies that create more jobs and generate more profits than the current polluting systems. 

Bertrand Piccard

Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation 

Blog published in partnership with Caran d'Ache