Friday, April 17, 2009

Solar cooker wins climate change challenge


By Shannon Carr-Shand, 9th April 2009

In the end it was the simplicity of a cheap solar cooking stove which captured the public’s imagination in the FT Climate Change Challenge – our global competition to find the best innovations to tackle climate change.

The Kyoto Box today won the first prize of $75,000, sponsored by technology giant HP. This will allow it to conduct mass trials of the technology in 10 countries, including South Africa, India and Indonesia. You can read more about it here.

This announcement is the culmination of a five-month search to find and reward the most innovative solutions to climate change. The final shortlist, selected by our panel of business leaders and climate change experts, reflects the many levels on which business and civil society need to take action to address climate change.

Our finalists offered ways to reduce new emissions from agriculture, transportation and air conditioning – all critical areas when you consider the Stern Review estimates that agriculture is responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the transport sector 14%, and buildings 8%.

At the other end of the spectrum, another of our finalists, Carbonscape, proposes to reduce current atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, offering an efficient method of fixing carbon dioxide in wood and other organic material as charcoal which can be locked away.

It is heartening to see that the entries drew inspiration from across the scientific world – from biomimicry to the laws of thermal dynamics.

History tells us that new innovation can flourish in an economic downturn as a renewed focus on the competitive edge creates the space for innovators to put their theories into practice. This may be true, but to develop innovations that tackle climate change and are commensurate with the scale of this challenge will require focused financial support. Existing and new technologies will need to be commercialised if they are to reach the tipping point at which they can make a real contribution.

Over the course of the competition, approximately 23,000 people visited the challenge homepage – engaging in the debate on how innovation can tackle climate change, and getting an insight into the new markets that will be created in the move towards a low-carbon economy. With the need to reduce emissions growing ever more urgent, lets hope that this debate has inspired new innovators to focus on tackling climate change.

Read more about the competition and the winner.