Luisa Colasimone, wind power advocate, answers questions
With what environmental organization are you affiliated?
I’m communications director for the European Wind Energy Association.
What does your organization do? What, in a perfect world, would constitute “mission accomplished”?
EWEA is the voice of the wind industry, actively promoting wind power in Europe and worldwide. Our members include 200 companies, organizations, and research institutions from more than 40 countries. This combined strength makes EWEA the world’s largest renewable energy association.
As demonstrated in EWEA’s report “Wind Force 12,” there are no technical, economic, or resource barriers to supplying 12 percent of the world’s electricity needs with wind power alone by 2020 — and this against the challenging backdrop of a projected two-thirds increase in electricity demand by that date. In the process, more than 2 million jobs would be created and more than 11,800 tons of carbon dioxide saved from contributing to climate change. There are no practical constraints to this level of expansion, but a series of national and international policy shifts are required for its achievement.
What long and winding road led you to your current position?
I studied journalism at university, and after a period of freelancing for radio, I went to the other side of the fence, working as a media officer. A media officer’s main task is advising on what could be a good story (therefore likely to be picked up), and how to say it to make it more interesting. I’ve been doing this for the past 14 years, mainly in the environmental, development, and humanitarian fields. I worked for intergovernmental institutions and NGOs. My current position at EWEA provides me with an ideal mix, as it merges an environmental perspective with what I consider the constructive approach of the wind-energy industry.
How many emails are currently in your inbox?
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in Rome, Italy. I moved abroad when I was 18 and was based in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands for most of my adult life, with extensive work-related traveling around the world. I’ve been living in Brussels for the past three years.
What do you consider your environmental coming-of-age moment or experience?
It might sound odd, but when I was 18, I met an English professor who helped me prepare my end-of-high-school research. The work was on Shelley’s “Prometheus Unbound,” and her reading of the half-god struggle to give men fire while respecting nature really struck a chord. I’ve kept this fascination for the development of technical progress to improve life conditions while respecting the planet.
What has been the worst moment in your professional life to date?
Having to take a photographer around a hospital in Goma, Congo, to take shots of sick women and children. We needed the images to illustrate their needs; the people were extremely kind but were not interested in photos: They wanted food and medicines. I felt cynical, inappropriate, and useless.
What’s been the best?
I enjoy my job. Some days are better than others, of course, but just being able to do a job I enjoy is extremely gratifying.
How do you get around?
Bus, tube, bike, walk.
What are you reading these days?
Fango (Mud), a novel by Niccolo Ammaniti, an Italian writer from the young generation.
What’s your favorite meal?
Spaghetti “mare e monti” (shellfish and mushrooms). And dark chocolate! But that’s not a meal, right?
Are you a news junkie? Where do you get your news?
Partially a natural news junkie, partially pushed on that path by my job. I receive three online news selections daily, mostly related to energy and the environment, I read online news sites (Reuters, AFP, BBC, ENDS among others), a couple of dailies, watch news on TV, and wake up to BBC World Service news.
Which stereotype about environmentalists most fits you?
I like wearing sandals — but without socks. Do I qualify anyway?
What’s your favorite place or ecosystem?
The marine ecosystem, and anything related to it: coral reefs, fish, mammals, mangroves, etc.
If you could institute by fiat one environmental reform, what would it be?
I’d make environmentally friendly products (bio foods, cleaning products, washing powders, etc.) as cheap as some of their “unfriendly” counterparts. The environmentally friendly option is rarely the cheapest one, and this often discourages people’s choice.
What important environmental issue is frequently overlooked?
The long-term impacts of our present choices, those we might not be there to witness. This is particularly worrying when related to the issue of energy and climate change.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Apart from the news? A program on French TV called Thalassa.
Mac or PC?
Mac for graphic design, PC for everyday use. But it is just a matter of habits.
What are you happy about right now?