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09 May 2022

Energy sobriety will be the key theme at European Energy Transition Conference
BY Frances Marcellin

Gold's Gym Berlin has power generating bikes

Gold's Gym Berlin has power generating bikes
photo: Gold's Gym/RSG

How can organisations, including health club and leisure businesses, decarbonise, generate clean energy and harness attitudes of 'energy sobriety' to reduce CO2 emissions? These are some of the issues to be discussed at this year’s European Energy Transition Conference.

Held from 31 May to 2 June at Palexpo, Geneva’s International Exhibition and Congress Centre, around 3,500 participants are expected to attend, along with speakers from organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations (UN). The three-day programme will include 17 plenary sessions and more than a hundred events, with debates, round tables, interviews, workshops and site visits.

The theme of this year’s conference is “less is more” and focuses on how using less energy, reducing fossil fuel usage and cutting CO2 emissions requires more local employment and results in a better quality of life and a protected climate.

It is suggested that, particularly in the context of the Ukraine War, where – in addition to human tragedy – an era of energy insecurity has been unleashed, energy sobriety can be a solution for cutting CO2 emissions.

The first day’s theme is “Global to local: everyone is involved, everyone is responsible”, the second day looks at changing behaviour and lifestyles, and includes neuroscientists discussing collective changes in behaviour that are required to reduce our thirst for energy, as well as looking at practical solutions such as geothermal heating. Day three, “time to commit”, features two key topics where sobriety must gain a foothold: digital technology and energy retrofit.

Collaborating across borders and sectors, in cities and rural areas, is essential for achieving climate targets, as the fitness industry’s recently-announced Sport Environment and Climate Coalition (SECC) demonstrated. The SECC was created by the Sport and Recreation Alliance; UK Active; the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE); the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS); Sport England; Sport Scotland; Sport Wales and UK Sport, to support the entire activity sector’s move towards net zero.

It is fitting that the conference is held in Grand Genève, a region that crosses Switzerland (Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud) and France (Ain and Haute-Savoie departments) – which is part of an EU cross-border ecological transition programme.

Stakeholders will share their experiences at the conference and explain how they have ecologically adapted the region’s ecosystem. Experts and authorities from other countries, such as Germany, Italy and Denmark, will also share ways they have fostered energy sobriety and reduced energy dependence.

Some health clubs in the industry have already acted on energy sobriety. Gold's Gym opened a carbon-neutral gym in Berlin. The Gym Group purchases electricity from renewable sources and uses a heat pump instead of gas. SportsArt has developed Eco-Powr, cardio equipment that converts the human energy produced during exercise into clean electricity – the Verde treadmill captures up to 200 watts per hour of energy.

Climate change is globally recognised as an emergency, with 192 countries – plus the European Union – having signed the Paris Agreement. Limiting the earth’s temperature increase to 2℃, preferably 1.5℃, requires international coordination across every sector.

By gathering communities, ecological transition scientists and experts, economists and organisations, the Geneva conference aims to unite all the players that are willing to take up the challenge to stop using fossil fuels and fight against climate change. The intention is to strengthen our action, develop innovation and bring about the necessary transitions.

Tickets can be purchased through the European Energy Transition Conference's website (www.hcmmag.com/EETC).



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