At this year’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Sustainability Conference, the IPBN invited five sustainability leaders across various fields to guide the network and our guests through their successes as well as the big changes that must be made to achieve the EU Council’s aggressive 2030 sustainability goals. We explored various areas in which we must make strides in-depth, including the political, social, technological, corporate, and academic arenas, and invited guests to ask the tough questions following each presentation.
Keynote speakers Barry Andrews, an Irish Member of the European Parliament, Michael Naylor, IPBN Member and private equity investor in Green projects and companies, Sean Fleming, T.D., Ireland's Minister of State in the Department of Finance, the Honorable Will Wynn, former Mayor of Austin, Texas, and Dr. Sarah Miller, CEO of the Rediscovery Centre, part of the Ballymun Regeneration Project all delighted attendees with fascinating presentations ranging from the circular economy and investing in sustainable projects, to how green initiatives might affect the financial and insurance markets in Ireland, for starters.
The Honorable Will Wynn’s presentation is perhaps the most relevant to the current summer heatwave sweeping the globe. As the former mayor of Austin, Texas, Wynn is no stranger to brutal heat, nor is he unaware of the wattage that is needed to keep people cool. He was able to harness the excess electrons generated by the five wind farms located 800km to the west of Austin to build, as he put it, “the world’s largest manmade block of ice.” Every night, using the wind farm’s energy, the city would freeze an 8-story tall ice block which, as it melted would be piped through downtown Austin, offering free air conditioning for all. Wynn said, “In five years…20 million square feet (2 million sq. meters) were constructed all on our chilled loop system, so their electricity footprint is very nominal.”
Barry Andrews, MEP’s presentation focused around commonality in Portugal and Ireland’s sustainable goals and their similar approach to emphasizing the Green Deal as a top priority. The MEP cited Ireland’s ambitious recent climate bill that stitched a 7% carbon reduction every year until 2030 target into law. Andrews said, “I’m happy we have this climate bill as I think it will make a huge difference…and we aren’t just expecting the central government to do all the heavy lifting.” Aside from common strategies, Andrews believes there is work that can be done with Portugal on the Maritime Agenda as there is a natural alignment there between the green island and the country of discoverers.
First ice, then water. What’s next? We are looking forward to answering that question next March. We hope you can join us.