Salutations de Lille, France! I was invited to speak at the EnviroNord congress in the inaugural conference: How eco-technologies contribute to reduce the social-economic impacts of climate change? Opening speakers were Mr Jean Jouzel a nobel-price winner from his work on the global warming and Mr Jean-Christoph Victor from the LEPAC (the Centre for Political Studies and Cartographic Analysis. There was also an event for interclusteral cooperation and I was asked as the representative of Global Cleantech Cluster Association to speak about the challenges and opportunities we see in building the cleantech ecosystem.
I was enjoying the speeches of Mr Jouzuel and Mr Victor as a true believer does but it was not hard to see that the message was aimed at the high level politicians – both French and EU-level sitting in the audience. And the message was: the changes which need to be done to sustain the global warming below two degrees, they are not the task of the next generation. We need to make changes happen now, or it will be too late.
Especially interesting were the facts Mr Victor showed regarding the changes in focus points of geopolitical power and demographics of the globe, how they have been changing over the years and how they might be affecting the sustainability or climate change discussions today and in the future. After fitting them into the political framework and world history, it becomes even more interesting. In the future, the population of the world is shifting from Europe/North-America to India/Africa – axis and even China will be getting smaller while these two keep on growing.
Let’s take India as the example, the population is growing fast and due to the high economical growth, the share of middle-class people will rise tremendously leading to more and more people wanting the same lifestyle as we Europeans are enjoying. This means huge opportunities for those selling cars, home electronics etc. But the fact is that these new middle-class families with two cars and air-conditioning in their apartments inevitably cause radical impact on the environment.
After already finishing this blog, I had the opportunity to hear U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton’s speech at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki today as she was speaking about the Clean Air and Energy Coalition, she has been initiating. Mrs Clinton brought up the exact same example of Indian middle-class as I had written and pointed out the importance of supporting new innovative clean technologies and entreprenurship to minimize the problems we will be facing. Since, as Mrs State Secretary Clinton quite frankly stated: Who are we to say to them that since they have survived without air condition for the last 1000 years, surely they can do that in the future because it is harmful for the environment.
However, I believe that we Finns should be active and believe in our abilities to make a difference by, for example, building the global cluster network and opening the discussion also on that level with the BRIC countries. We have already solved many of the problems and wouldn’t it be great if they could learn from us instead of learning by mistake like we did?
I have also decided to make a personal promise to enjoy the warmth of the summer while it lasts and not to use electricity to cool my house. What I am trying to be is a responsible middle-aged, middle-class vacationer– you are welcome to join me in doing that where ever you are.
Nina Harjula, Development Manager of Lahti Science and Business Park, Co-founder of Global Cleantech Cluster Association, GCCA
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