Cities, Climate Change, Innovation

On Friday night, in the magnificent venue of Le Grand Palais (below), Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on climate change, celebrated three of its leading startups in the carbon reduction space and showcased others. This was just one of the hundreds of side events that make up the full experience of COP 21.

COP21_Claire_grand Palais2

Innovations presented ranged from an all-electric helicopter that one day will be pilotless, to an idea for ride-sharing for local authorities that have a limited transit service but many people doing the same point-to-point journey, to carbon sequestration technology that is much more efficient than the competition. During a panel discussion, James Close from the World Bank Group noted that the 185 countries that have committed to a reduction target (an INDC  or ‘intended nationally determined contribution’) are going to need help in working out how to get there, and this is a massive opportunity for entrepreneurs. Climate-KIC is hoping that some of the 400 startups they have supported will be successful with this massive carbon reduction ambition.

A 15-minute walk on hard cobbles in high heels between events and hotels is hard on the feet. Luckily the Paris Velib bikeshare scheme, which has an amazing 20,000 bikes in 1,800 stations, positioned every 300 metres, turns that trek into a delightful ride – often along separated, raised bike lanes (below). Amanda Eaken of the Natural Resources Defense Council and I happily rode those bikes from our hotel, close to Gare du Nord, to Le Grand Palais for the Climate-KIC event, navigating the cobbles, bike lanes, crazy Paris traffic, and the Champs-Elysees in a 30-minute ride.

COP21_Claire_bikeway

Time was saved from not getting caught up in the congestion, and we got a fantastic sight-seeing tour past magnificent churches, narrow streets and crowded bars. Eight euros buys a seven-day pass and limitless free 30-minute rides, and I have been using a bike to regularly (in conjunction with a train) to get between my hotel, Le Bouget, and other centrally located events.

 COP21_Claire_bike2

Claire Bonham-Carter is a director of sustainable development for AECOM.

Originally published 12.7.2015

Author: Claire Bonham-Carter