Act Now takes an urgent and cooperative approach to limiting the environmental problems of tomorrow with the technology and know-how of today.
Society must change the way it perceives the relationship between humans and earth. Only then will people understand the need for a more urgent approach to sustainable living.
So says Katherine Richardson, a professor of biological oceanography and head of the Sustainability Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen. She was also Chair of the Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy.
“That change is underway, but science is telling us that this transformation in perception is happening too slowly in relation to the irreversible changes humans are causing to nature,” she says.
For instance, the European Union’s 20-20-20 targets aim to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent, increase energy efficiency in the EU by 20 percent, and to reach 20 percent of renewables in total energy consumption in the EU… but do not demand results for another eight years.
PHOTO: Katherine Richardson, head of Sustainability Science Centre, University of Copenhagen, at an Act NOW conference in Copenhagen in 2011.
“We’re here to say, ‘Yes, sustainability can be profitable.’”
Lisbet Bræmer-Jensen, Act Now founder
PHOTO: Lisbet Bræmer-Jensen (centre) of Act Now and Martin Lidegaard (left), Denmark’s Minister for Climate, Energy and Building.
“The climate issue is the biggest challenge that my generation of politicians is dealing with. If we fail now, it will be extremely difficult to catch up later.”
The value of change
But it is not just partnerships that are important: the partners have to be committed to the changes they want to see, and that means getting the message out about sustainability, sharing best practices and profitability.
“Act Now wants partners that are willing to be accountable and responsible,” says Lisbet Bræmer-Jensen. “Being a member is not just a ticket to a good night’s sleep. You have to put your money where your mouth is. Other companies have had similar initiatives, but no one wants to change unless it’s profitable. We’re here to say, ‘Yes, sustainability can be profitable.’”
Martin Lidegaard echoes this sentiment: “There is a tendency in public debate to think that there’s a contradiction between green economic growth and sound economic thinking. But Act Now is showing that this contradiction doesn’t exist. If we don’t work with the market and private sectors and make good business and energy savings together, we won’t be able to push as far as we would like.”
Katherine Richardson points out that failing to prioritise such technology investments can have a negative impact on companies. “Maximising income on the short term can be expensive in the future,” she says.
Efforts such as Act Now mark some initial steps in what will become a continuous challenge to be innovative and create solutions and products that do not harm the environment.
A sense of urgency
Fortunately, plenty of solutions exist that can help today, according to Act Now. Started in June 2011, the Act Now organisation – a partnership consisting of the Climate Consortium Denmark, the Copenhagen Municipality, the Danish green think tank Concito and Grundfos – works to spread the message about existing products and solutions that can help reduce CO2 emissions at once by lowering energy consumption. Due to their energy efficiency, these products and solutions will also lead to increased profitability for the companies and individuals that use them.
PHOTO: Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, speaks at an Act Now conference in Copenhagen in 2011.
“Act Now provides a platform for likeminded individuals to use the technology of today to cut energy use,” says Lisbet Bræmer-Jensen, Grundfos Corporate Affairs Director, Energy & Climate Industry and founder of Act Now. “Grundfos immediately supported this initiative. We know specifically how much good can be done right here, right now. Ten percent of the world’s energy goes to pumps, our expertise. Just by using better pumps, we can reduce that number by four percent, which is a drastic difference.”
A variety of simple yet effective technological solutions are available now that can help minimise the harm on the environment, including energy efficient pumps, optimized heating and cooling systems and upgraded lighting. This is, in part, Act Now’s goal: to let people know that more energy efficient products and solutions are out there.
“Often when you discuss climate issues, people tend to think that current technology is not good enough or rational or economically beneficial,” says Martin Lidegaard, a Danish politician who has been Minister for Climate, Energy and Building since 2011. “The Act Now organisation is out to prove that actions taken now are a benefit to the climate and environment – as well as our economy.”
Help from everywhere
Act Now is also spreading the message of importance of interdisciplinary cooperation; from business to academia to the political arena. Everyone is affected by climate change, so it is important that new initiatives include participants from every walk of life, says Katherine Richardson. “Organisations like Act Now – especially because they are rooted in the non-academic community – can serve as a catalyst for changing perceptions,” she says.
PHOTO: Act Now gathers its members regularly to find ways of promoting simple solutions to complex global challenges.
About Act Now
Act Now is a partnership among a growing list of partners, including Grundfos, the Copenhagen Municipality, Concito and the Copenhagen Climate Consortium. The organisation aims to increase awareness about solutions that help to reduce CO2 emissions and thus ensure profitability due to their lower energy consumption.
Act Now works to find world-class examples of energy-efficient solutions and then generate awareness among commercial decision-makers. According to Act Now, it has a unique position:
• A business-driven voice in the world of energy and climate initiatives
• Directing companies towards ways to act sustainably – now
• Finding simple solutions to complex global challenges
• Empowering decision-makers to create their own cost-beneficial solutions
• Creating win-win solutions that expand markets, while fighting climate change