Interviews — May 22, 2019

Hannes Zimmermann, Expert of the month – April 2019!

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Written by Sabrina Cipullo 4 min read

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our new project! Every month, we are now selecting and recognising an Expert based on their outstanding performance.

On behalf of our Expert team, we wish a hearty congratulations to Hannes Zimmerman on receiving the award for the Best Expert of the month – April 2019! Thank you so much for your great contribution!

We had the chance to interview Hannes, Cleantech Finance Specialist at Technology Fund - South Pole Group, and learn more about his background, field of expertise as well as his drivers and motivations to become an Expert for the Solar Impulse Foundation.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Where do you work, what is your field of expertise?

Over the past 10 years, I have been working in global climate change mitigation, specialising in scouting, assessing, financing and implementing solutions. Currently, I am at South Pole, leading a team which assesses business models of SME’s and startups for a $500M government climate fund! In the face of climate breakdown, I am driven to create and nurture businesses that are tackling the problem head on, using tech innovations that support scaling and amplifying action.

Fantastic! Do you have a curiosity or a fun fact about yourself that you would like to share with us?

A new hobby that I have picked up recently is trash snorkeling/diving in lake Zurich with my wife. The best finding so far: A 2 meters Buddha statue made of plastic! 

Could you tell us more about South Pole’s activity?

South Pole’s global team of 300+ experts helps corporates, investors, and the public sector manage climate risks and find low-carbon opportunities with the aim of accelerating the transition to a climate-smart society. Together with our partners, we facilitate climate action for all. 

What is the most fascinating aspect of your work?

Since climate mitigation touches almost all industries, markets and technologies, it is a highly versatile work. I have had the opportunity to dive into topics such as satellites, cow burps, refineries, Malian ceramic cookstove manufacturing, and insect breeding, to name a few! But even more inspiring is the chance to work together with a cross-section of brilliant people and stakeholders. As climate mitigation is a relatively new field that is evolving at an incredibly fast speed, I enjoy the challenge of defining new innovative processes and methods to keep up with the growth.

What are the latest trends for cleantech, and businesses related to environmental sustainability?

The new wave of digitalisation including platforms, IoT, AI, VR/AR/MR, robotics and sensors shows an impressive momentum with high environmental benefits. While it is important to bear in mind that digital technology and business models will not solve all ecological challenges; they also can create additional ones. The ones it can tackle, it does so at unprecedented speed, disrupting many industries and markets.

What is the value of being an Expert for you, and more generally, what means being part of the World Alliance?

One of the messages from Bertrand Piccard is that a paradigm shift has to be created, a total change in the mindset of society as a whole. Part of the new paradigm is convincing stakeholders that environmental protection is already profitable financially. I think this message has not yet reached all and I find it inspiring to be part of the community to spread the message and enlighten those lagging behind!

What solution would you like to see in our 1000 Solutions portfolio?

To curb temperature increase to 2°C or 1.5 °C we need to cut our carbon budget from several thousand gigatons to ~1’000 or ~500 gigatons. Therefore, it would be great to see more solutions that can scale to the gigaton level. With a growing portfolio, additional reading assistance for stakeholders to engage with could be beneficial in empowering them to take action. A Sankey diagram, for example, could help stakeholders to find their application field or pinpoint areas that lack solutions.

Anything else you would like to share with us.

We have 2’500 working days or 10 years to do the major chunk of work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this, we need global collaboration and partnerships (SDG #17), something that the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions embodies. In this spirit, I invite you to get in touch with me!

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