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The climate debate: let’s not sit idle and wait

Since a couple of weeks, climate action in Belgium has gotten a totally fresh face. Each Thursday, thousands of (primarily younger) people participate in marches all around the country – calling upon industrial and political stakeholders to launch concrete climate action plans. An initiative that, in the meantime, has already been picked up in a number of other countries as well.

It is my personal conviction that the renewed sense of urgency the demonstrators are injecting into today’s climate debate is very much justified. Hence, earlier today, I decided to sign the ‘Sign for my Future’ petition – a civil initiative that urges the Belgian government to take three concrete actions: (1) to pass an ambitious climate law, (2) to draw an investment plan that stimulates the development of clean technologies, (3) to establish a climate council to keep the beforementioned demands on track.

Importantly, when I signed the petition, I did so both from a personal perspective but also as the CEO of imec. After all, being a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies and uniting more than 4,000 people under its research banner, I believe that it is also up to imec to contribute to a more sustainable future. 

On the one hand, rather obviously, imec’s impact will be felt in the clean technology research we (and our partners) are conducting. Think of our activities at EnergyVille where we continue to explore – and achieve – important efficiency gains in solar cell technology, for instance. Thanks to our research, solar cells can be made increasingly affordable and – technically as well as economically – turned into a valid substitute for energy generation through fossil fuels. Other examples include our research into smart grids and smart buildings, and our advances in solid state batteries (to be used in electric cars, for instance) that can store considerably more energy for an increased amount of time.

Yet, those are long-term efforts. We owe it to ourselves and our planet to also make a difference in the shorter term. At imec, we do so through concrete optimizations in our workflows and daily operations. For instance, in 2018, we invested in measures to decrease our own energy consumption – adapting cleanroom specifications, installing a heat pump and upgrading insulation. On a yearly basis, those measures alone should result in a decrease in CO2 emissions of more than 1,000 tons. And in 2019, we will be looking at new remote collaboration and mobility plans to further decrease our ecological footprint...

Of course we should not be blind to the fact that many challenges still need to be overcome. But I am convinced that – together – we can generate the impact that is needed to protect our planet for future generations. That is why I signed ‘Sign for my Future’ – and I wholeheartedly invite you to do so as well. 

Luc Van den hove, CEO, imec

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