Bertrand Piccard: “we live in a society of waste, inefficiency and waste”

While COP27 is in full swing, Futura spoke with Bertrand Piccard, creator of the Solar Impulse Foundation, which aims to promote technologies that protect the environment. The foundation has already drafted a text of 50 proposals, “Ready to vote”, addressed to deputies and it is now addressed to cities, in particular to COP27, with a new ” Solutions Guide for Cities”.

The climate emergency is here. It is no longer to be proven. The latest IPCC report explains it, if nothing is done, we are heading straight into the wall. France is also one of the most affected areas, because it is warming up faster than the rest of the planet. However, at the COP, few decisions come out of it. “Most of the speeches boil down to stating a long list of climate problems that we know by heart. They end with “something must be done”, but without stating what or how”. regrets Bertrand Piccard, founder of Solar Impulsewhich has just been released on Solutions guide for cities.

His goal, with the foundation, is to show that it is possible to act, and above all to show how. “Today, it is essential to modernize all our systems. If we don’t, we continue on this curve of global warming, pollution and the depletion of natural resources, he continues. We are speaking at COP27, and will speak at all the other COPs: we want to show that there are economically profitable and ecological solutions that can be implemented today. »

The foundation has already listed more than 1,450 technical solutions which, according to it, allow greater efficiency: less energy consumption for more production.

Discourses remain stuck in problem-problem logic, instead of problem-solution

“It took five years to find them all, list them, then appraise them to finally be able to label them”. Some were presented during the COP, and very well received by the audience. “When we talk about these solutions, we have a very good reception. When I speak with ministers, for example, they tell me that they did not know these solutions and that it is very interesting”, describes Bertrand Piccard. However, doubt hangs over their actual implementation in the future. “During the COP, we talk about implementation, partnerships, but behind nobody acts. A COP should review solutions for each area, but for now the discourse remains stuck in problem-problem logic, instead of problem-solution,” he regrets.

For cities, some 200 ideas were proposed, integrated into the guide published by the foundation. “The guide is designed to show what solutions are applied, how, and where,” explains Bertrand Piccard. Rather than proposing few actions that have a strong impact, such as phasing out fossil fuels, this time it is “hundreds of small solutions in all areas, each contributing a little to the resolution of the situation”, he adds.

From 100% recycled concrete to the geothermal heat pump

You can find everything in the technologies labeled by the Solar Impulse Foundation. Whether construction, because “Today, we are able to manufacture concrete using only aggregates from demolition. Most countries accept around 5% recycled aggregates, but 100% is quite feasible,” he describes, or energy. In this category, Bertrand cites the company, Celsius Energywho has “ created a geothermal heat pump intended to supply large buildings. It makes it possible to divide the energy bill by five, he explains. Another example concerning energy: Eco-tech ceramic recovers the heat lost in the factory chimneys, to store it and redistribute it to the factory. »

Or agriculture: it evokes agrivoltaism, still at the heart of many debates. This set of techniques consists, among other things, in placing adjustable and mobile solar panels above crops. “This allows the panels to be arranged according to the need for light, which varies with the seasons, especially in the event of drought”, describes Bertrand Piccard. But also recycling solutions: “Many countries throw a lot of waste into their rivers to get rid of it. A solution recommended by Solar Impulse for this: Neolith, which transforms this waste into building materials. »

Degrowth is a problem of the rich

When asked if he thinks these solutions will actually be adopted, or at least some of them, Bertrand Piccard replies that‘”we try to raise awareness, but we cannot change the regulations of the countries”. For him, a change in the economic system is necessary, which will perhaps be pushed in France by the risk of shortage that we incur this winter. “We have to stop believing that by wasting energy, we will continue to have enough. For this winter, it’s too late. But it may serve as a trigger for real decisions to be made,” he explains.

In effect, “Currently, we operate on laziness and complacency. We continue to use what we have always used, to do as before because it is simpler. The economic system is based on the quantity of production, it pushes consumption, creates a lot of waste, wastage, and it’s a disaster. If water is cheap, why save it? When a phone is broken, why fix it? » This is where climate change, which has been hit hard this year 2022, is changing the situation. Or at least, for the richest, because as Bertrand Piccard explains, ” at the COP, the only concern of the poorest countries is to develop. Economic degrowth is a problem of the rich, and there are not many rich people on this planet. » The challenge therefore lies there: allowing ecological development for the less well-to-do, and changing the functioning of the more well-to-do. “We think that being ecological is expensive, much more than not being so. But with efficient solutions, we obtain a better return while consuming fewer resources. »

Leave a Comment