Students attend cleantech summit

Students attend cleantech summit

On a warm May day in the West Loop, two Loyola students joined hundreds of leaders, innovators, and investors from Colorado to the United Kingdom to celebrate the latest advances made in the world of cleantech.

Co_Invest Cleantech was a day-long summit hosted by Clean Energy Trust (CET), a Chicago nonprofit making seed investments in cleantech startups throughout the Midwest. In his welcoming remarks, CEO Erik Birkerts emphasized the importance of CET, for “technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are powers which can address the environmental, economic, and social imperatives we collectively face.”  Thus, Co_Invest Cleantech was not just an event, but a call for others to get involved in supporting growing businesses that are striving to make a difference in the world, and they need support now more than ever.

The two Loyola students that answered CET’s call were Erin Lippert and Shriya Patel. Lippert is a marketing major with a minor in nonprofit management, and Patel is double majoring in environmental science and political science. They appreciated the balance of seriousness and optimism throughout the event, particularly from keynote speakers Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres, and Dr. Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of OGCI Climate Investments.

Lubber stressed the gravity of the environment’s current situation and argued the speed, scale, and scope of climate change is the most pressing challenge being faced today. But with this challenge, she hopes companies realize the strong business case for adopting science-based targets. Climate change is affecting every aspect and sector of the world’s economy, so implementing innovative, sustainable solutions has the potential for significant financial reward.

Shriya Patel agreed with Lubber on the opportunity businesses have in not only transitioning to clean energy but in taking charge of climate action. “I think we tend to forget about the latter when looking at solutions for the climate crisis,” Patel remarked.

While Lubber mostly discussed the action businesses need to take, Dr. Rangarajan closed the summit by reminding the audience of the power of the consumer. “For anyone who is frustrated about the climate, there’s a lot we can do. Two-thirds of energy produced is not used...cut waste by fifty percent, and that’s huge progress. We can control the demand. They’ll stop producing if we stop buying.”

At the end of the day, Erin Lippert reflected on her experience at the summit. “I felt as though Dr. Rangarajan was speaking directly to me, for I often do become very frustrated when I think of the state of our world. I am only one person, and it is easy to believe that my efforts won’t make a difference. But, if everyone works to make small changes in their life, especially in their purchasing behavior, as Dr. Rangarajan mentioned, a significant difference can be made.”