Swiss Solar Pilot Who Circled Globe Wants to Talk Climate With Trump

  • Solar Impulse CEO Bertrand Piccard sees growth in renewables
  • Clean energy is what can ‘make America great again,’ CEO says

Swiss pioneer Bertrand Piccard takes a selfie during the last leg of the round the world trip with Solar Impulse 2 over the Arab peninsula prior to the landing in Abu Dhabi to finish the first around the world flight without the use of fuel on July 25, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Source: Jean Revillard/Solar Impulse2 via Getty Images

Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss pilot who circumnavigated the world in a solar-powered plane, wants to convince Donald Trump that investing in clean energy is key to creating jobs and growth.

Piccard, the chief executive officer of Solar Impulse SA, wants to meet Trump after he’s inaugurated to highlight the falling costs of renewables compared to fossil fuels, he said Monday in an interview ahead of the World Economic Forum.

Trump has criticized solar and wind energy as being too expensive. His election platform pledged to reverse environmental regulations and pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement to limit global warming. The president-elect is eyeing the U.S. coal industry to stimulate the economy and create new jobs.

“If they want to make America great again they will need to use clean technologies and renewable energies,” Piccard said in a phone interview from Munich. “You will not have growth with old technologies.”

Even if Air Force One -- the U.S. presidential jet -- can’t yet run on solar power, the White House could be refurbished to operate with renewables, said Piccard, speaking ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos this week, where he will join business and finance leaders to discuss climate risks.

“I’m also an entrepreneur like him,” Piccard said. “I flew around the world on solar power because it’s possible. I built a company, found the money and technology to do it, so I think if you speak a language of the entrepreneur, you can show him where the new business is.”