Sustainable voices

Isabelle Ringnes

Isabelle Ringnes

Who, What, Where?

Isabelle Ringnes, 31 years, born in Norway, Co-founder and CPO of Equality located in Oslo + podcast host of future Forecast.

What was your a-ha moment that made you become engaged in sustainability?

It might sound a bit silly, but the first time I truly became aware of the impact and urgency of climate change was back in 2006. I was 13 and say an Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore at the cinema. At the time no one was talking about sustainability the way they do today. Seeing how the dramatic changes in temperature, water, and Co2 levels were hurting wildlife really hit me.

What is your single best tip for someone who wants to do more for the environment on a personal level?

Adopt a plant-based diet!

What do you think will be the legacy of your generation?

There will be many- particularly related to technological advances due to Moore’s law and the law of accelerating returns- meaning that the better, more powerful tools we build, the more information and collaboration we have- the faster we are able to innovate. Consider that we’ve already seen more technological advances in the past 20 years compared to all of human history. That speed of innovation is going to continue exponentially. What I really hope is that the incredible advances in tech are built with solutions for our global grand challenges in mind- and that they will be designed to aid some of our most pressing human and environmental challenges.

What is the most critical technological breakthrough that needs to happen for the world to reach the 1,5 degree goal?

It’s a complex problem, and no one single tech-solution will fix it. But there is no doubt that a planet run solely on renewable energy will have a great impact- and my hope is that with the past two decades’ advances in solar energy we’ll be there far before we expect. But aside from technology, the most fundamental change will have to come from humans- we need to make more conscious decisions and start living less like it’s our last day on earth.

What will this breakthrough demand from us as a society?

If I am to take solar or renewable energy as a concept as an example, its a combined effort from politicians, the government and ultimately us as consumers. As we’ve witnessed in Norway with electric vehicles, introducing incentives to attract early adopters has a positive effect. I believe in carrots versus sticks when it comes to changing consumer behavior, the goal has to be that people want to change, rather than are forced to change. However, some regulation is necessary- for example what we’re currently seeing with new rules as to how we power and heat our houses in the future. Ultimately it’s a joint effort in which everyone needs to give a little, in the pursuit of longterm collective gain. And usually, governments are the ones who have to act first in order to spread from early adopters and climate enthusiasts to the wider general population.

What is your company’s most impactful contribution to fight climate change?

We’re a small company for now- and we do small things. We share a co-working space which naturally saves resources, we consume no plastics or disposable products and very rarely eat meat. Also- we always aim to have video meetings to limit plane trips.

In your industry, what do you think will be the most groundbreaking change over the next 10 years?

I’m in the tech industry, so I am pretty sure that whatever I predict- the breakthrough will probably be more incredible than anything my imagination can cook up!

Which brand (in general) do you think is at the forefront when it comes to sustainability?

I truly respect what Choice Hotels are doing in terms of embedding a green strategy into everything that they do- be it limiting food serving sizes, light controls, no-disposables, and the opportunity to reserve yourself from daily cleaning service. Considering Gunhild Stordalen’s long-living passion for the environment it’s evident that their efforts are genuine and well thought through- as opposed to many other brands that just slap a few labels on and call whatever they’re doing “sustainable” to fit with the global trend.

What makes you climate positive about the future?

First of all, I am inspired by the younger generations growing up now who are actively demonstrating and commanding change to the way we live and consume. I am filled with positive hope that their passion, drive, and hunger for radical change will result in real systemic and structural changes on a global level in favor of a greener and cleaner world in everything that we produce, consume and dispose of. I picture a world in which you cannot produce anything unless you can put it back to the ecosystem where it can be revived in some positive manner later. Another thing I’m positive about is all the entrepreneurs out there, working day and night to create outstanding solutions to our pressing environmental challenges. I am in no way saying that new technology will save us all, but I believe in the power of technology in combination with human behavioral change. This is how I envision lasting change to happen, so every day- I root for these entrepreneurs, inventors, and scientists to help us save the planet, faster.


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