EDP Organizes Sustainable Development Event at The smarter E Europe

News – June 28, 2024 | Sarah Hommel de Mendonça

The Portuguese utility brought prominent climate activists to The smarter E Europe 2024 in order to talk about how to achieve sustainable development and properly address climate change:

Actress Cate Blanchett, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, rock climber Alex Honnold, former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer, economist Kjell A. Norström, Co-President of the Club of Rome Sandrine Dixon-Declève, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia Vincent Stanley, as well as Miguel Stilwell D´Andrade and Vera Pinto Pereira, CEO and board member of EDP, respectively.

The event took place on June 20 during the busy exhibition days of Europe´s largest alliance of exhibitions for the energy industry.

EDP, using The smarter E Europe as the venue, had set out to retell the story of renewable energies in the context of climate change with passion. Cate Blanchett, who opened the event with an inspiring and thought-provoking address, expressed her appreciation for the impact of “anxious, excited, honorable and curious people” like those taking part in The smarter E Europe, that drive forward initiatives to transform the way we do business today.

“We need to stop worrying so much about winning, and choose earth,” said Blanchett, calling on companies to stop prioritizing profit and winning over a comprehensive ethical system that protects the climate and nature in general. The DNA of business needs to be changed, in her opinion, but “there is always fear of change”.

Economist Norström gave an overview of human economic activities, concluding that “business as usual is no longer enough”. He pointed out that so much wealth has been created in the last decades that we can no longer indulge in the illusion that growth is infinite. Panelists Patricia Espinosa, Sandrine Dixon-Declève and Joschka Fischer highlighted the cost of a scenario with insufficient climate action compared to a scenario with serious mitigation efforts. Overshooting the target of limiting global warming to an average of 1.5 degrees would lead to a 10−20 per cent drop in annual gross domestic product, a cost much higher than the cost of early mitigation, said Dixon-Declève.

The panelist also warned against society’s growing reluctance to take climate protection measures: “We are now in a defensive moment,” said Fischer, and Dixon-Declève deplored that“at a time of difficulties in access to food, high temperatures and floods, right-wing parties convinced people that nature and climate are bad for them.”

In his speech, Stanley linked Patagonia´s effort to promote circularity in business to a successful regenerative business approach: “Regeneration is a precondition for sustainability”. He called for more determination from companies to transform: “Most corporate sustainability strategies contain words like strive, foster – words that are used when people are trying to make the impression they are doing something without really wanting to do so.”

Honnold gave a compelling account of how his career as a rock climber led him to connect with remote communities and become an advocate for sustainable energy, implementing off-grid solar energy projects. Regarding the global climate change efforts, he stated: “Climate change is pressing enough for people to become afraid and act”.

The speech by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was a special honor for the audience and the organizers. It was followed by a discussion with EDP CEO Miguel Stilwell D´Andrade. Ki-moon stressed the urgency to achieve faster results regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, which he got off the ground during his tenure. Most speakers agreed that giving the UN wide-ranging competences would be a precondition for united climate action, while currently “the real power lies with some individual countries like China and the US, and with big corporations,” as Fischer stated in the discussion.

The “We Choose Earth Tour” is an initiative by EDP, a pioneering utility with an electricity mix of currently more than 90 percent of renewables. The event was one of more than 20 side-events at The smarter E Europe 2024, to promote technological innovation and development, institutional progress regarding renewables deployment and rising public awareness for the urgency of resolute action against climate change.

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