Across the globe — in regions, cities, communities, businesses, and individual lives — people are proving that 100% renewable energy is not a fantasy, but a reality today. But what about the meetings and events industry? And what about convention, congress and exhibition centers?
Its time that us “clients” started requesting. lobbying and selecting venues that can power our events with renewable energy. Its an easy straightforward way to reduce the impact of our events and leverage the position of the venue – as a major city player – to accelerate the switch to renewable power that is one of the key ways to tackle climate change.
The wind is blowing
As an example of collaborative action, its interesting to look at the RE100 initiative. RE100 is a collaborative, global initiative of influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, working to massively increase corporate demand for renewable energy. The private sector accounts for around half of the world’s electricity consumption. Switching this demand to renewables will accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aid the transition to a low carbon economy. Companies joining RE100 are encouraged to set a public goal to procure 100% of their electricity from renewable sources of energy by a specified year.
As of January 2016, the RE100 campaign now has over 50 companies on board – compared to 15 in January 2015. This growth has occurred across all sectors, but primarily includes companies headquartered in Europe and North America. Read more about the campaign: http://there100.org/reports-briefings
Our energy is changing
In 2015, more than half of all new power capacity was from renewable sources. Renewables now generate 22.8% of all global electricity use – and this is set to grow further still. Looking at economic data, changing policy and global demand, we can see that there are multiple reasons for this inevitable shift to renewable sources of power generation.
Most importantly the cost of renewable power technologies is continuing to drop, and in many places solar, onshore wind and biomass is already cheaper than fossil fuels. Analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that $8 trillion – two thirds of the total spent on new power generation capacity between now and 2040 – will be invested in renewable energy technologies. Just take a look at the graphic and see how China is leading. In this case its with wind.
What should you do as an event planner?
- Start by including a standard question in your RFP to the venue or hotel: Ask them if the can provide you with renewable energy? Then negotiate to get the venue to include this in your contract for the same price.
- Then talk to your office manager about getting your offices energy supplied by renewables
Walking the Talk
But we all need to start at home. In many countries you can switch your home supply to companies that offer a mix or even 100% renewable energy production. At MCI we have a goal to switch all our offices to renewable energy. At the moment we have increased from 5% to over 33% of our energy is renewable. But we have a long way to go. One challenge is that most of our offices are rented and we have no choice in the energy we source. So we need to engage our landlords and lobby them to switch the whole building to renewables. Next summer we will open our new HQ in Geneva. This will be a very green building powered by solar panels on the roof and currently a large percentage of the purchased energy will be renewable (we will have to get that to 100%).