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Solutions – at long last!
08/03 - 2015

Solutions – at long last!

People have been talking about climate change for over 15 years. Meanwhile, the situation has got worse, but the language used hasn’t changed at all. As before, the talk is still about a huge and very costly problem, about natural disasters and the catastrophic effects of rising sea levels. Targets are set – atmospheric temperatures not to be exceeded, CO2 levels to be brought down. And what’s the result of all this? Everyone has lost interest - people, politicians, industrialists. Why? Because the problem seems too big to handle. We all feel helpless, too weak to make a difference. What’s more, we are asking the present generation to make sacrifices to prevent the ice-caps from melting, so that future generations won’t suffer. Do you really think that’s a convincing way to change the behavior of a company boss who has to pay thousands of employees at the end of the month, or a family who all want to go on holiday?


We shouldn’t be listing targets, but rather solutions – ways of meeting those targets. Because these solutions exist. Our society could already cut energy consumption in half by replacing old, outdated, polluting technology with clean technologies. By clean technologies, we of course don’t mean only renewable forms of energy.  These alone can’t compensate for the appalling level of wastage that we now generate. No, most of the clean technologies are those that lead to energy savings through increased efficiency, by reducing the weight of structures, insulating heat exchanges, minimizing friction and flow resistance.  All these make for land and sea mobility with less pollution, energy-neutral buildings, and industrial processes producing less carbon. They are economically viable technologies that create jobs, profits and sustainable growth, which the whole world needs. It’s technology like this that we use on Solar Impulse. Because without incredibly highly energy-efficient technology - electric motors, lithium-polymer batteries, polyurethane insulating foam, LED landing lights, ultra-light carbon-fiber structures - the sun would never be able to keep an airplane in the air day and night without fuel.


The solutions exist already, but the key “do-nothing” players still sit watching each other like china dogs. Governments hope that free-market forces will make industrialists take responsibility for modernizing production, whilst industrialists wait for governments to impose a legal framework that would eliminate the distortion of competition between clean and dirty production methods. The only people we ordinary citizens can prod into action are the politicians, who need our votes to be re-elected.


So, for the future, couldn’t we at least change our tune? Stop trotting out the same old outdated declarations, and start talking at last about measures to adopt? Couldn’t we, all together, persuade governments to modify the legal framework so as to encourage the replacement of polluting technologies by cleantechs ? That would at least make debates constructive and international climate conferences interesting.  


This is what we hope to achieve by launching the « Future Is Clean" movement to coincide with Solar Impulse’s round-the-world flight.


Cast your vote at By so doing, you’ll help our solar airplane to make a real difference.


Thank you.


Bertrand Piccard