COPENHAGEN – (AFP) – Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger handed out a Danish environmental prize to a British company in Copenhagen on Thursday, and praised the city as an inspiration for sustainable energy.
“Copenhagen is still 40 percent more energy efficient than California. I’m jealous about that,” the Hollywood actor told reporters.
Schwarzenegger was in the Danish capital to present the newly created Sustainia Award to the first winner, British Azuri Technologies.
The company is behind Indigo Pay-As-You-Go Solar which combines solar and mobile technology to provide a low-cost source of electricity for off-grid residents in developing countries.
A Danish think tank, Monday Morning, is behind the award, and Schwarzenegger serves as honorary chair of the prize committee.
The winner does not receive a monetary prize, but will receive help setting up investor meetings, and creating awareness around the sustainable technology and business solution.
European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, also a member of the prize committee, said the interest in climate change and sustainable energy among the public and businesses had entered a new stage after the COP15 summit in Copenhagen in 2009 and the economic crisis.
“Today you cannot be a big CEO for a big company and not address this, so that is where things have really changed over the recent few years,” she told AFP.
The chief executive of Azuri Technologies, Simon Bransfield-Garth, said there were currently 6,000 solar units in distribution in Africa (Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and South Sudan), and the aim was to distribute over 100,000 units by next year.
He also stressed the importance of the technology and business aspects of Indigo.
“It’s not just about providing sustainable technology. It’s also about providing a sustainable business model that goes along with it,” he told AFP in an interview.
“You can’t donate your way out of poverty,” he said.