Solar plane inspiration for sustainable development: UN chief

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 21:36

United Nations: Applauding the first cross US journey of the solar-powered plane, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today said the historic flight could serve as an inspiration to tackle climate change and promote sustainable development.

"The Solar Impulse flight across the United States proves that with ingenuity, we can harness (solar energy) for impressive results," said Ban during an event at a headquarters to mark the end of the plane`s journey.

The ultra-light and super-efficient plane, which began its trek in San Francisco in early May, made stopovers in Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Dulles before arriving at New York`s John F Kennedy International Airport on Saturday night.

The Swiss-made aircraft is reportedly powered by some 11,000 solar cells and can reach an altitude of some 30,000 feet while flying at a speed of about 70 km per hour.

"Solar energy can play an important part in realizing these goals," Ban said, adding, "Let us take inspiration from your example and harness the power of multilateralism to address climate challenge and achieve sustainable development.

"Maybe the future Secretary-General, whoever he or better yet she, may be, will ride a solar-powered plane," Ban said, adding that in the meantime he would continue to push for a legally binding climate change agreement for all countries by 2015.

The UN chief recalled that he had recently visited Iceland, where he had seen first hand damage wrought by climate change.

Indeed, this serious threat to our planet drove sea-level rise that threatened to wipe out entire cultures and sparked natural disasters and extreme weather events that endangered lives and livelihoods worldwide, he said.

Moon said he will continue to promote universal access to energy through his Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

The initiative aims to achieve three linked global targets by 2030: Universal access to modern energy services; the doubling of energy efficiency and the doubling of the share of renewable energy in the world`s energy mix.

The event was also attended by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the founders and co-pilots of Solar Impulse.

Piccard echoed the Secretary-General`s belief that Solar Impulse could spark global action to tackle climate change.

Solar Impulse, he said, could show the world what was possible when innovation was harnessed: new technology could be developed and tested, old consumption patterns could be broken and, ultimately, new sources of energy could be produced that were both sustainable and profitable.

"We will fly around the world in 2015...And this can be a beautiful demonstration of how far we can push the application of renewable energy," Piccard declared.

Speaking also for Borschberg, he told the audience, "This plane belongs to you. I hope you will travel with us."


First Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 21:35
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