Interview with Mike Townsend

Founder of Earthshine, part of advisory board at University of Oslo and author of the Quiet Revolution.

*Earthshine is an international business consultancy/think-tank that integrates sustainability principles into the heart of business strategy and operations – enabling sustainable business success and the transition towards a sustainable & low carbon economy.*
-As a professor, what would you say is the best way to spread the awareness about Climate Change and renewable energy? And how to create compelling narratives about the same in different parts of the World?

Education has a crucial importance for the application of renewable energy systems, and it is the main key to unlock more sustainable development focus. One of the very positive examples is how sustainability is incorporated within the Danish educational system. This is how the kids from their young age learn about all sustainable practices that can use later on in life.

Another great example is the new initiative in schools in Finland, where they started to interrelate the issues that matter in the 21st century, such as more sustainable living with regular subjects- geography, history, biology. Also, at university level education, the curriculum needs to be reengineered to incorporate sustainability. The momentum for those actions is already built within the past decade, now we just need to use it.

Also, in order to create more compelling narratives about application of renewable energy systems, you have to make it work in the local context. It is crucial to consider what will be appealing in different countries, and maybe even more crucial to present those ideas as their own. It is about finding a “hook” that will be relevant in the national context.

Q: Do you think that counties, which get the rights for emissions, has the right to the economic growth?

That sounds sort of an old-school to me. To give a little background on these kinds of opinions, we need to consider that West got an enormous wealth from fossil fuels in the past. Now we have that same West forcing double-standards to be applied to growing economies, like China. It’s a reasoning- don’t do what we did, do it differently. Developing countries have a right to economic growth and societal development, but the prerequisite is being able to decouple along the way. Thus, they need to shift the cost of investments towards renewable energy investments. As presented in my book “The Quiet Revolution”, we are given a binary choice- grow sustainably or reduce the growth. 

The key for growing sustainably is to incorporate eco-efficiency and circular economy to reduce your environmental impact, while having the economic growth at the same time. Responsible businesses will and should grow under both- planetary and social boundaries.

Q: How renewable energy could become more appealing to businesses?

That primarily depends on the individual business leaders. When you are running a company, you can very easily get too busy thinking how to grow and improve your business. To some business leaders who carry environmental values as their personal ones, a simple reminder of what is happening in the World with current Climate Change devastating impacts, would be enough to make renewables very appealing. In other cases, renewable energy systems can and should be presented as a great business case.

First, renewable energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper, and pay back period is looking very good. Businesses that invest in renewable energy within their own infrastructure can sell the green electricity- by providing electricity back to the grid they can get easy economic benefits out of this investment. 

It is also very important to look at the power chain within the business, and try to appeal to governing bodies. Because renewable energy is a great business case.

by Vanja Babunski


  1. BobbuBrowne says:

    Hello! Cool post, amazing!!!