By Lee Barken, IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP
Up the road from the COP15 Climate Conference and just outside of downtown Copenhagen, 170 exhibitors gathered this weekend for the 2-day Bright Green conference, to demonstrate that climate change is both a dangerous peril and a pathway to profits. Bright Green, a showcase organized by the Confederation of Danish Industry, aims to show that the emission reductions currently being negotiated at COP15 will require a myriad of new industry solutions.
Judging by the turnout, it would appear that industry is more then ready to step up to the challenge and that the 10,000 attendees were not deterred by silent protest messages, such as “our climate is not your business” and “greenwashing,”, etched in chalk on adjacent sidewalks and walls leading to the Copenhagen Forum Center.
Inside the building, a maze of trade show booths greeted the curious and energetic crowd. The eclectic mix of exhibitors included alternative energy companies, consultants, solution providers, product manufacturers and trade delegations from countries such as Canada, Finland, Denmark, France and the United States.
To kick off the conference, a keynote presentation was delivered by a trio of royalty. The Crown Princes of Denmark and Norway, along with the Princess of Sweden all shared their thoughts on the changing climate and provided a recap of their experiences on a recent polar expedition. Sarah Palin may look out her window to Russia, but these three royals look out their windows to an ever-changing arctic. “All three countries border arctic regions,” said Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, adding “We’re all very concerned.”
The good news is that more people now seem to be engaged in the discussion “My father has been talking about this for 30 years. At first he was lonely. Now he feels that nobody is listening to him because everybody is already talking about it,” remarked Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Royal Prince Haakon of Norway seemed particularly concerned about the linkages between climate change and the plight of the poor. “We need a stable climate to tackle poverty. We are connected as a human family. We’re all in this together,” said Prince Haakon, who in 2008, along with Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, toured regions of the arctic were ice has significantly retreated.
As an American, I’ve never fully understood the allure of royalty. Nevertheless, the crowd seemed particularly pleased with the comments from the well-spoken young leaders.
Following their remarks was a presentation from Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who added a sense of urgency to the conversation. “Make no mistake. Climate change is a reality. It is taking place everywhere. The challenge before us is clear,” said Rasmussen.
The delight of the afternoon, however, was an impassioned speech from renown inventor, Dean Kaman. Following a biographical sketch of his career, including insulin pumps, prosthetic arms and other medical devices, Kaman covered some of his “green” inventions, including a device that cleans drinking water, along with a matching solar power device. The products are designed to deploy quickly and easily in developing countries that lack access to safe drinking water. According to Dean, the technology is there, the only thing missing is the political will. Said Kaman, “I’ve invested 10 years and $50 million dollars. It’s ready to go.”
Graffiti protests may have covered the walls around the Copenhagen Forum Center, but it didn’t seem to put a damper on any of the activities inside. The business community sees a clear path ahead. It’s bright and green.
Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP is the IT practice leader at Haskell & White, LLP and serves on the board of directors of CleanTECH San Diego and the U.S. Green Building Council – San Diego chapter. Lee writes and speaks on the topics of carbon accounting, green building, IT audit compliance, enterprise security and wireless LAN technology. He is currently in Copenhagen attending the COP-15 conference. You can reach him at 858-350-4215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.