By Christiana Figueres – Founding Partner at Global Optimism, co-presenter of Outrage + Optimism, co-author of The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis
In early 2010, I was charged by United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to lead the UN Climate Convention. Whilst I’d worked in the field of climate change for more than two decades already, I knew this was not the easiest job in the UN system at that time. In fact, my appointment followed what was considered a spectacular failure in the multilateral climate negotiations, after the international meeting of governments in December 2009 failed to agree progress on climate change goals. Vested interests, denial, anger and outright apathy characterised that unfortunate conference, disappointing activists and hundreds of authentically engaged people working for governments and companies.
I had to face a choice, realising fully that the decision I made would set the trajectory for the work of hundreds of dedicated staff at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, thousands of corporate, finance and civil society leaders and that their work in turn could change the course of history. The chances of securing a binding international climate change agreement were considered slim.
Here’s what I decided and why it may matter to you too. I decided that impossible is not a fact; it’s an attitude. I realised that I could channel the outrage, fear and anxiety that dithering on climate change had precipitated in my own outlook, toward a stubborn, gritty, determined optimism fuelled by the firm belief that we know what to do and we have the tools and technologies we need, unlike the generation before us. Most importantly, this can-do optimism is an organising principle that brings others into the same worldview – and they in turn bring thousands more along. By December 2015 in Paris, a green gavel fell on a silent conference hall, signalling that 195 sovereign countries had unanimously adopted the Paris Agreement, the first such agreement on tackling climate change.
Now we’ve got to get down to the important business of delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. Whilst governments still matter enormously in this regard, everyone can and must play a part. We’re reaching irreversible tipping points that will lead to drastic changes in ecosystems with devastating effects for all life on this planet.
Many of us focused on solutions to the climate crisis have worked on the basis that if we keep going in the right direction: away from fossil fuels, away from industrial agriculture, away from mindless consumption and decisively towards clean energy, electrification of transport, regenerative farming and a circular economy we’d be able to pull back from some of the dangers in front of us.
We have not yet matched the exponential curve at which we are seeing climate change impacts mount with equivalent speed and scale in all the solutions we need. Through my long association with Formula E and now Extreme E, I have been struck by the power of technology and human ingenuity to change accepted norms. And now we stand at a crossroads, where you need to decide if you will play your part in the climate crisis, in the spirit of stubborn optimism.
The transportation sector – responsible for 14 per cent of carbon pollution globally, rising to nearly 30 per cent in industrialised countries – is at a tipping point. Our passenger vehicles are the bulk of the problem, not only warming our planet, placing toxic fumes in the air around us, poisoning our lungs and severely damaging our health. Car marques are committing to all electric line-ups, local governments and national leaders are examining policy frames that will consign the internal combustion engine to the museums. But it is you – the teams, drivers and motorsport enthusiasts using your voice to let our leaders know we want them to move faster. The automotive industry is at a tipping point, and so too is society.
When I watch the Extreme E races, I see teams pulling together, each playing a unique and vital role. I can sense the immense strength and endurance each driver draws on to navigate the curves and bumps on the track. And in far flung special places like Greenland’s rapidly melting glacier, the suspense of the race to a cleaner, brighter, climate secure future feels as close as the finish line. I hope you will think about what you can do to build a brighter future, better than today’s fossil fuel powered economy, with good jobs in clean industries, where the air is fresh and the water pure, and where we are more equal and healthier too.
So now it’s over to you. You can take part right now by supporting your favourite Extreme E team in the fan challenge! Can we count you in?
About Extreme E:
Please visit the Extreme E media centre to access images, videos and press releases: https://www.extreme-e.com/en/mediacentre
Extreme E is a radical new racing series, which will see electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. The five-race global voyage highlights the impact of climate change and human interference in some of the world’s most remote locations and promotes the adoption of electric vehicles in the quest for a lower carbon future for the planet.
To minimise local impact, Extreme E races will not be open to spectators, with fans instead invited to follow the action through live TV broadcast, and on social media.
The St. Helena, a former passenger cargo ship, has undergone a multi-million Euro refit to minimise emissions and transform her into Extreme E’s operations hub. The ship will be used to transport the championship’s freight and infrastructure, including vehicles, to the nearest port, minimising Extreme E’s footprint, as well as being used to facilitate scientific research through its on-board laboratory.
Extreme E is also pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology which will enable its race fleet to be charged using zero emission energy. This innovative solution from AFC Energy uses water and sun to generate hydrogen power. Not only will this process emit no greenhouse emissions, its only by-product will be water, which will be utilised elsewhere on-site.
Season 1 Calendar:
Desert X Prix: AlUla, Saudi Arabia
3-4 April 2021
Ocean X Prix: Lac Rose, Senegal
29-30 May 2021
Arctic X Prix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
28-29 August 2021
Island X Prix: Sardinia, Italy
23-24 October 2021
X Prix Location 5
About Continental Tires: Founding Partner and Official Tire Partner
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. Continental generated preliminary sales of €37.7 billion in 2020 and currently employs more than 235,000 people in 58 countries and markets. In 2021, the company celebrates its 150th anniversary.
The Tires business area has 24 production and development locations worldwide. Continental is one of the leading tire manufacturers with more than 56,000 employees and posted preliminary sales of €10.2 billion in 2020 in this business area. Continental ranks among the technology leaders in tire production and offers a broad product range for passenger cars, commercial and special-purpose vehicles as well as two-wheelers. Through continuous investment in research and development, Continental makes a major contribution to safe, cost effective and ecologically efficient mobility. The portfolio of the Tires business area includes services for the tire trade and fleet applications, as well as digital management systems for tires.
About CBMM: Founding Supplier
CBMM is the world leading supplier of niobium products and technology. Headquartered in Brazil, with offices and subsidiaries in China, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.
CBMM offers technical innovation to customers around the globe through a team of over 2,000 highly trained, dedicated professionals providing cutting-edge niobium products and technology to over 400 clients in around 40 countries.
Defined by the Financial Times as “A haven for directional fashion,” LUISAVIAROMA.COM is the top online luxury fashion destination with 5,000,000 visitors per month and worldwide shipping. With each new season, the website presents the collections of more than 600 established designers and young emerging talents.
About Zenith: Official Timekeeper and Founding Partner
ZENITH: TIME TO REACH YOUR STAR.
Zenith exists to inspire individuals to pursue their dreams and make them come true – against all odds. Since its establishment in 1865, Zenith became the first watch manufacture in the modern sense of the term, and its watches have accompanied extraordinary figures that dreamt big and strived to achieve the impossible – from Louis Blériot’s history-making flight across the English Channel to Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting stratospheric free-fall jump. Zenith is also highlighting visionary and trailblazing women – past and present – by celebrating their accomplishments and creating in 2020 its first-ever collection dedicated entirely to them, Defy Midnight.
With innovation as its guiding star, Zenith features exceptional in-house developed and manufactured movements in all its watches. Since the creation of the El Primero in 1969, the world’s first automatic chronograph calibre, Zenith has gone on to master fractions of the second with the Chronomaster Sport and its 1/10th of a second precision and the DEFY 21 with a precision of 1/100th of a second. Zenith has been shaping the future of Swiss watchmaking since 1865, accompanying those who dare to challenge themselves and break barriers. The time to reach your star is now.
About Allianz: Founding Partner and Official Insurance Partner
The Allianz Group is one of the world’s leading insurers and asset managers with more than 100 million private and corporate customers in more than 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life and health insurance to assistance services to credit insurance and global business insurance. Allianz is one of the world’s largest investors, managing around 790 billion euros on behalf of its insurance customers. Furthermore, our asset managers PIMCO and Allianz Global Investors manage 1.7 trillion euros of third-party assets. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are amongst the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In 2020, over 150,000 employees achieved total revenues of 140 billion euros and an operating profit of 10.8 billion euros for the group.
About Neat Burger: Official Plant-based Partner
Neat Burger is the first of its kind – the planet-friendly, plant-based, full-flavoured game-changer the world has been waiting for. The world’s first plant-based sustainable burger chain, Neat Burger offers a menu that appeals to not only those who follow plant-based diets, but anyone, meat-eaters included, who wants to eat delicious meat-free dishes that are more sustainable, healthier and ethical. The brand is backed by seven-time FIA Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, in collaboration with hospitality organisation The Cream Group and investors, as well as UNICEF Ambassador and early backer of Beyond Meat Tommaso Chiabra. Neat Burger opened its first site in September 2019, just off Regent Street in London, and its second and third dine-in outlets at Camden Market and Soho in 2020. Plans for global expansion across Europe, the US and Middle East are already in place for 2021 and beyond.
About EY: Official Innovation Partner
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, strategy, transaction and consulting services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.
This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.
About INTERprotección: Official Insurance Broker
INTERprotección is composed of a group of Mexican insurance, reinsurance and surety bond brokerage companies. With global presence and recognition, INTERprotección has more than 40 years of experience in management and comprehensive risk consulting in the Mexican market. Its business model is focused on bringing the client to the forefront and offering them the best service through innovative and disruptive products, more recently with its new brand inter.mx, its insurance digital platform that is transforming the insurtech game. Follow INTERprotección on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter @INTERproteccion
About Enel X:
Enel X is Enel Group’s global business line offering services that accelerate innovation and drive the energy transition. A global leader in the advanced energy solution sector, Enel X manages services such as demand response for around 6 GW of total capacity at global level and around 100 MW of storage capacity installed worldwide, as well as 195,000 electric vehicle charging points made available around the globe. Through its advanced solutions, including energy management, financial services and electric mobility, Enel X provides each partner with an intuitive, personalized ecosystem of tech platforms and consulting services, focusing on sustainability and circular economy principles in order to provide people, communities, institutions and companies with an alternative model that respects the environment and integrates technological innovation into daily life. Each solution has the power to turn decarbonization, electrification and digitalization goals into sustainable actions for everyone, in order to build a more sustainable and efficient world together.
Find out more on https://corporate.enelx.com/en and follow Enel X on its social media channels:
About XITE ENERGY:
XITE ENERGY was founded by Oliver Bennett and Megan Jones straight out of university two years ago. XITE brings disruptive innovation within the beverage industry; a new frontier to energy drinks. Designed around functionality but with no limitations on health, XITE ENERGY uses functional ingredients that are fused together to provide a cognitive boost, combining natural flavours, natural caffeine and zero sugar.