Fighting climate change like a “Terminator”

Urgency for commitment. Sustainability. Profitability.

Those were the key points communicated throughout the second R20 Austrian World Summit hosted at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Over 1200 participants from 70 countries gathered to share ideas and experiences, as well as to commit to renewable energy solutions to make our planet a cleaner and safer place. The event itself was conducted in an environmentally friendly manner and according to the standards of the Austrian Green Meetings eco-label.

The R20 AWS’ objective was/is to honor the COP 21 Paris accord and to take action by establishing a network between “responsible investors”, innovators, public/private financial institutions and foundations. Public-private partnerships constitute the driving force in implementing clean technologies and reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The event kicked off with a grand and ‘Hollywood-like’ opening followed by keynote speeches of Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General UN, Arnold Schwarzenegger, R20 Regions of Climate Action Chair, and Alexander Van der Bellen, Federal President of Austria. Additional panels followed, including Erna Solberg, PM of Norway, Lars Rasmussen, PM of Denmark, and Laurent Fabius, President of COP 21.


“You are the only Republican with a heart, you are a dangerous species”

One message was stressed very clearly: there is not one global response in fighting the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change. Tackling climate threats most effectively takes place on sub-national levels, especially in such countries where appropriate legal frameworks don’t exist or political leadership is missing.

The afternoon was dedicated to simultaneously held sessions with various panels. Speakers in session 3 – “Responsible Investment” – pointed out that transformation towards clean energy and profitable business models aren’t mutually exclusive. The combination of innovation, new business models, best practice examples, local strategies, and project monitoring connects different sectors, companies, cities and regions and lead to a profitable future for all parties involved. Green economy is no longer considered an expensive endeavor, because of viable opportunities emerging markets have to offer. Philanthropic investments have helped create those very markets by functioning as risk-less capital mobilizations turn renewable energy sources into tradeable commodities.

Slide provided by Jürgen Schneider, Federal Environment Agency Austria

“We need to build replicable, scalable investment structures” – John Morton, Senior Advisor, Aligned Intermediary 

Before closing the summit, Director of R20 Austria & EU, Monika Langthaler, highlighted one final message: “We’ll be back on May 28, 2019.”

R20 is constituted from two entities, the R20 Regions of Climate Action Assossiation and R20 Foundation, which carry out operational business as well as realization of climate initiatives on a sub-national level. The Regions of Climate Action non-profit organization was mainly initiated by former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2011. Its objectives are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Facts & numbers worth knowing regarding climate change in Austria:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is Styrian native. The province proudly calls itself ‘Green Tech Valley’. Rightfully so! Styria promotes hydropower, biomass and solar power systems and optimizes waste management by using smart software tools.
  • In 2050, projected economic costs resulting from climate change in Austria amount to €3,76-8,8 billion.
  • Smart-city initiatives are already implemented throughout Austria.