As the world turns: my reflections of COP25

COP25 climate talks in Madrid end today. But the debate continues.

COP25 officially opened on 2nd December, and over the course of the past nine days, over 25,000 people have participated in a series of meetings, debates, and workshops to discuss the action needed to tackle climate change.

I was one of them.

My message was simple, we are on a Mission to Zero. We have the practical solutions and know-how to help reduce carbon emissions. ABB is a partner of change and ready to act.

I took part in many discussions during my time at COP25, and what struck me was a clear interest in the technologies ABB has developed that support business, industry and communities in delivering better outcomes for the environment. As debates shone a stark light on realities, we were able to proudly step forward and state ‘we can help’.

So, what is holding back the action so urgently needed to save the planet?

Well, one session I took part in explored barriers for the implementation and scaling up of low carbon, sustainable, and resilient transport. Policy and public procurement were hotly discussed, along with the awareness of what is available. In certain quarters, there is little and sometimes no understanding of the capabilities that exist that can deliver lower carbon outcomes.

In a keynote speech opening ‘Transport Day’ on the 6th December, the Spanish Minister of Development José Luis Ábalos cited the transport sector as a main emitter of greenhouse gases, which in Spain accounts for 27%. He spoke about measures being taken in Spain to increase energy efficiency of the transport sector, such as a smart rail energy network, and the use of e-mobility public transport in urban areas.

E-bus charging infrastructure is something ABB excels at. Just this week we helped launch the first electric bus service to go into operation at a UK airport. The service will see six Volvo 7900e fully electric, low emission single deck buses service Birmingham Airport, helping to sustainably transfer the 13 million people who visit the airport each year.

Using ‘opportunity charging pantographs’ charging of these buses takes only two to six minutes to complete, providing flexibility and enabling continuous operation for the electric buses without having to spend time in the depot being ‘topped up’ with power.

As the world leader in electric vehicle infrastructure, ABB offers the full range of charging solutions for electric cars, electric and hybrid buses as well as electrification for ships and railways. ABB entered the e-mobility market back in 2010, and today more than 13,000 ABB DC fast chargers have been sold across 80 countries, more fast chargers than any other manufacturer.

As a company, we encourage adoption of clean technologies and help customers improve energy efficiency and productivity while extending the lifecycles of their equipment and reducing waste.

I raised this point at another event I took part in on 7th December – Energy Action Event: The Business Case for a Zero-Emission Energy Future. This event also featured Bertrand Piccard, initiator of the first successful round-the-world solar-powered flight.  Our messages were very much aligned around a call to action for more green technology to be adopted. It is available, it is just not being used on the scale it should be. Adoption must accelerate.

Nearly 60 percent of ABB’s global revenues are derived from technologies that directly address the causes of climate change through energy efficiency, renewables integration, e-mobility, resource conservation, and eliminating waste. This last topic is something I am particularly keen to publicly promote.

As an example, maintaining power supply during complex food and beverage production is often critical. Any down-time could result in the spoiling of goods, excessive waste and the need for deep cleaning of the equipment. We work with many suppliers providing them power quality and power protection equipment, eliminating negative impacts on the environment from wastage. And there are obvious financial benefits, too.

At the end of the day, it is care and thought that can lead to better outcomes for the environment.

But to some businesses and industries ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ are still nebulous terms, and a connection to practical solutions is lacking. They simply haven’t been switched on. They haven’t woken up.

Over the course of COP25, I realized that in order to accelerate change business must go through ‘sustainability transformations’, just in the same way ‘digital transformations’ are enabling growth. Often the benefits of being greener are not linked to the bottom line, but what we are seeing time and time again is that savings for the environment are often matched with savings, increasing profit.

I felt truly proud to have been part of COP25, and proud to work for a company that can prove it holds the keys to solving many of the issues that were discussed. Now, we must make sure those keys are placed in even more hands to ensure the universal potential of our technologies, products and solutions is unlocked.

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About the author

Amina Hamidi

Amina Hamidi joined ABB in 1998 as a Research Scientist and Project Manager and has held a number of positions with increasing responsibility both in R&D and on the business side up until August 2017, when she was appointed Chief Technology Officer for the Electrification business of ABB. Now she leads a team of scientists and engineers focusing on both customer needs-driven and technology disruption-oriented R&D. She has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the French National Research Institute for Transportation Systems (INRETS).
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