Bertrand Piccard is a man with a vision - and with the means to turn them into reality. A solar plane, flying day and night without fuel: This is what he and his organization Solar Impulse are working for. Piccard has come to the COP21 conference in Paris to promote his adventurous approach to new technologies.
Piccard has tried - and mastered - the impossible before. In 1999, he conducted the first non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon, spending no fuel at all for forward motion on his trip.
This success is fuelling Piccard's ideas for the future of the world: If the same feat could be done with a solar plane, "everybody could use these same technologies on the ground to halve our world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life", he says.
I meet Piccard, who is wearing a pilot jacket instead of the usual business suit, at a panel debate from the European energy industry organisation Eurelectric. While listening with half an ear to the discussion, I google and find out that Piccard's plane is currently halfway through the first round-the-world solar flight in history, stranded in Hawaii (could be worse, couldn't it), stopped by problems with the battery. Maybe Tesla could help?
Talking about batteries: The hottest spots at the COP21 centre in Le Bourget are the tables with plug sockets, actually reserved for bloggers, but in reality used by everyone who needs to charge a mobile phone or laptop. And that is literally everybody, including myself. Today we are all bloggers.
Just as the climate summit, the whole world needs energy for life, and that is actually the title of the Eurelectric event I am attending. Eurelectric's President António Mexia talks about the 1,2 billion people in the world who have no access to electricity today. At about the same time, French President François Hollande meets African heads of state and announces that France will invest 2 billion Euros in renewable energy in Africa until 2020, a fifty-percent increase compared with the past five years.
It's a positive spirit of ambition and trust at this second day of the COP21 meeting. Even the Climate Action Network gets infected: Instead of awarding their "Fossil of the Day Award" to the worst climate sinners, they hand out a "Ray of the Day". The price goes to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of countries affected most of climate impact.
The Forum, headed by the Philippines, called at the COP21 to limit global warming to 1,5 degrees instead of the current target of 2 degrees, to ensure the survival of the exposed nations. At the same time, those countries, among them Bangladesh, Costa Rica and Madagascar, want to achieve full decarbonisation of their economies and 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
"These countries have decided to not play the victim", it reads in the reasons for the award, "but instead show the kind of leadership that the rest of the world can learn from".
And with this little ceremony, that usually shines with drastic sarcasm, the end of the second day of COP21 is - all smiles.
Vattenfall’s coverage of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris
Vattenfall's Head of Communications Ivo Banek is attending the climate conference COP21 in Paris as an observer. Here he writes about his personal impressions.
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