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Interview with Bertrand Piccard.

Interview with Bertrand Piccard.

Interview conducted by Ahmed Khaouja

Presentation of Mr. Bertrand Piccard.

Mr. Piccard, before asking you my questions, may I briefly introduce you to our readers: You are a Swiss doctor and pilot. You flew around the world aboard a “Solar Impulse” solar plane which landed for the first time in Africa at Rabat Salé airport on June 5, 2012. If I remember correctly, you took off with your solar plane “Solar Impulse” in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi to the UAE, to return there in July 2016 after seventeen stopovers including that of Rabat. Previously, you also succeeded, with the British pilot Brian Jones, in the first world tour in a balloon in 1999. Currently, you are the president of the Solar Impulse foundation, one of whose missions is to label industrial products that respect ecology while ensuring financial profitability for companies.

Question 1 from Lte magazine: From COP 1 held in Berlin in FRG in 1995 to COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt in November 2022, do you think we are on the right track to reduce global warming?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

When we see the commitments of the countries, the answer is no. When we see the private sector and the solutions it offers as technological solutions to reduce CO2 emissions, I am a little optimistic. Some countries think that by moving towards a decarbonization of their economy they will lose economically, while actually it is the opposite that would happen. Because with decarbonization, countries will become economically more efficient.

Question 2: For more commitments, don’t you think it is useful to apply more binding obligations in order to be able to move in the right path?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

Yes, we need binding commitments. It forces all countries to become more efficient, that is to say, to save energy and to start producing more renewable energy. What the COP fails to do. Because in the COP countries seek to find unanimous decisions. This means that the countries which are the least ambitious lay down the law at the COP and not those which are the most ambitious. What must be done now is that, instead of negotiating on commitments to reduce CO2, we rather negotiate on the commitment to apply ecological solutions. So countries need to commit to what type of solutions to put in place to precisely reduce CO2 emissions and have more renewable energy and less waste of natural resources such as water. Hence, commitments to be more efficient. Therefore, what we need to look for is a partnership for the implementation of commitments for the seek of more concrete technological solutions.

Question 3: After having traveled around the world with a solar plane, you are now proposing viable technological solutions for ecology and for businesses. What is your job exactly ?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

We worked intensely in order to find solutions that exist to protect the environment. Some are profitable, others are not. Our job is to find solutions that are both economically profitable and environmentally friendly. In fact, we have found 1450 solutions that are profitable and ecological in various sectors, including industry and agriculture. Our job is to mobilize governments to use these solutions fo the aim to to ensure more efficient development and to protect the environment. The goal is to modernize the world. This means replacing everything that pollutes nature with solutions that protect the environment. I am sure that going in this direction will save more energy and money.

Question 4: As President of the Solar Impulse Foundation, you affirm that fighting against global warming while ensuring the financial profitability of companies is possible. How can we achieve this without the introduction of a carbon tax and without the involvement of donors such as banks?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

Indeed, we think it’s possible. The carbon tax is a solution to accelerate the use of ecological solutions. But before managing to generalize the carbon tax, we must think about doing better in several areas. The carbon tax is scary and many people think it will cost them a lot of money. That is where our role could be seen ; by the way we have found 200 profitable and ecological solutions for cities. These 200 solutions for cities will allow the creation of jobs while aiming to reduce natural resources such as energy and water.

Question 5: On the sidelines of COP 27 here in Sharm El-Sheikh, you have just published a guide in which you announce viable technological products that manufacturers can use while aiming for financial profitability. Can we say more about this?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

The guide began by looking for solutions that are both economically profitable and environmentally friendly anywhere in the world. The guide traces where these solutions have been used in a way that is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. We explain in this guide how to succeed while facing the great challenges in relation to the reduction of global warming, through the use of these solutions which exist almost everywhere.

Question 6: You have always advocated an efficient economy. That is to say, you propose to couple the GDP with the quality of efficiency and not with the increase in production and consumption. How to achieve this goal?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

Our world pollutes a lot by wasting natural resources. For example, when you have an uninsulated house, it costs you money to heat or cool it. But you use good ecological technology to isolate it well, you become more efficient. Sometimes, the energy consumption in this specific case can be divided by five. So energy will be saved. This allows us to save money to invest in a greener economy. This is what I call qualitative growth.

Question 7: The serious fight against global warming does not, in your opinion, involve recourse to a planetary mobilization like that carried out around the fight against the covid19 pandemic?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

I understand your comparison. It is true in the Covid19 crisis there has been a planetary mobilization. You are right with your way of perceiving how to solve this ecological crisis, we must do the same as what we did to counter this pandemic. So our vaccine against global warming is these cost-effective and ecological technological solutions. The covid 19 the danger was defintely immediate, while with climate change the danger is a bit remote. This make us not involved enough for ecology.

Question 8: Do you think that renewable energies, with the war in Ukraine, will be enough to provide all the energy necessary for humanity within the framework of sustainable development objectives for 2030?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

The problems related to the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine are the same. Today there is less Russian gas and less Ukrainian grain. So as possible solutions there is reason to lower consumption. Today, for example, we consume more energy with old systems. It goes the same for food where we are less efficient because of the waste of food in several countries. So if we modernize our various processes, we will become more efficient. In terms of energy, we must work on two levels. We must first work on the use of renewable energies, which are becoming more competitive. The second level consists of being more efficient as I just explained.

Question 9: Europe plans to implement a carbon tax at their border from January 1, 2023. This tax will certainly be a handicap for developing countries like Morocco?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

I think this will force all the countries that export to Europe to work to be more ecological. I think that this European decision will be beneficial for Morocco because it will improve its performance in the fight against the release of CO2 and thus Morocco will be able to export its products almost everywhere by improving its ecological standard.

Question 10: Africa is more exposed to the consequences of climate change. In addition, it is already subject to various other challenges. What would you recommend to African heads of state?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

African leaders must understand that it costs them more to import fossil fuels than to create renewable energy plants. Going in the direction of developing renewable energies is an opportunity for the creation of local value. Morocco has understood this by investing in wind and solar power.

Question 11- Nuclear power plants emit less CO2 but they produce radioactive waste. Will we talk about this subject in Sharm E-Sheikh?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

There are also discussions around nuclear at COP 27. The problem is that nuclear is more expensive than wind or solar. Indeed, between the studies and the realization, it takes 15 years on average to install a nuclear power plant. So the installation of wind or solar power is relatively quicker to implement.

12- What messages are you sending to young people around the world in relation to this global warming crisis?

Answer from Mr. Bernard Piccard:

Young people must act by speaking with their elected representatives and they must mobilize through all the means of communication at their disposal. We must eat more locally, we must save energy, we must respect natural resources. Young people also need to choose jobs that contribute to better protection of our unique planet. I want to add an important point is that the announcement of the search for 1000 ecological solutions I made was in Marrakech during COP 22, which revealed to be a great intiative.

It was also a great pleasure and constructuve to me to talk to the Moroccan delegation chaired by Prince My Rachid on the subject of ecology in Sharm Echeikh in Egypt.
Finally, thank you very much to you and your teams for this excellent interview.

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