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Cool conservationists: The eco pioneers making a difference in 2018

19 December 2018

Environmental issues have been a hot topic in 2018 with ocean plastic pollution, coral bleaching and climate change all making headlines across the globe. Meet the conservation pioneers, activists and forward-thinking designers who worked tirelessly to help solve these crises this year...

Victorien Erussard & Jérôme Delafosse

Image courtesy of Jeremy Bidon

This year, the world’s first hydrogen-powered boat (top) set off on a six-year voyage from France around the world. Its mission? To inspire and educate the world about renewable energy. Spearheading the endeavour are captain Victorien Erussard (left) and film-maker Jérôme Delafosse (right), who will make 101 ports of call in 50 countries to meet those working in sustainability and spark enthusiasm in others. Energy Observer works by producing carbon-free hydrogen from seawater; solar panels and wind turbines, meanwhile, charge batteries. A fuel cell converts the stored hydrogen into electricity to prolong autonomy if the sun and wind don’t play ball. It is an elegant example of the project’s theory – that coupling a variety of renewable energies with hydrogen is the future of energy.

Erussard says: “Energies wand storage systems complement one another, and we have to learn how to make them work together: there isn’t a unique solution to climate change, but rather plenty of possibilities.”

We say: It’s an original and honest endeavour that inspires by example.

Frederikke Magnussen

Image courtesy of Oliver Holmes

A childhood spent sailing off the coast of her native Denmark bestowed an early love of the ocean on yacht owner and force of nature Frederikke Magnussen. Her passion followed her into adulthood where she became determined to do something about the damage being done to the ocean. In 2017 she and entrepreneur Sian Sutherland founded A Plastic Planet with “one simple goal”: to rid the world of single-use plastic. Not possible? Watch them prove you wrong. This year they successfully opened the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle in Amsterdam, created the first plastic-free consumer trust mark, launched the first plastic-free day, and completed 55 media interviews in 24 hours…

She says: “It’s a big task but I think it can be done.”

We say: Could we have reached a tipping point in single-use plastics?

Niklas Zennström

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

As one of the founders of Skype and a leading venture capitalist in the tech sector, it’s no surprise that Niklas Zennström is driving the cutting edge of his passion: sailing. The Swedish billionaire appeared on the international sailing scene in 2007, moving quickly from a Mini Maxi to a TP52. In 2008, Zennström started his own team, Rán Racing, and piled up wins across world regattas. But he has created bigger waves this year with the launch of his latest sailing boat Rán VII – and the pioneering electric propulsion inside her. The lithium-ion battery system is optimised for sailing to a degree never achieved before – reducing weight while dialling up speed and range to hit safety regs.

He says: “In technology you are dealing with risk and need to decide which are the areas where you want to be ahead of the curve and take more risks.”

We say: This tech innovator is making our electric dreams a reality.

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