Turning Influence into Climate Action

May 26, 2023
1 Min

Blue Planet Energy Founder, Henk Rogers, was a guest panel at The New York Times Climate Forward Busan Summit alongside fellow climate leaders: Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Climate Justice Activist; James Hooper, Principal Sustainability Consultant at Mott MacDonald; Melati Wijsen, Founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags and YOUTHTOPIA; and Victoria Kim New York Times Correspondent.

The summit focused on technology's role in the climate crisis with this session focusing on the impact of climate activists and influencers. This session dived into how influencers can inspire others by making personal changes and setting an example. They also discussed various strategies, such as community engagement and legal action, that can help translate advocacy into concrete climate actions.

There were many amazing input but here are some of our favorite moments:


MITZI JONELLE: Henk, earlier you gave me this little marble and I'm like, 'I hold in my hand the world - the Blue Planet'. It seems like what would need to happen for us to tackle this challenge is for the grouping to be this, that we all see ourselves as a collective- making the change. So I would love for you to also tell the people in the room what you think they can do as individuals going forward.

HENK ROGERS: So I can say what I have done since I started on this path. Well, I stopped eating beef... I took my home and my ranch off grid, meaning I get all of my energy from solar and storage. I changed all of my vehicles to electric vehicles that are only charged at home. So my travel is carbon-free. I've got a place in New York now and my mode of transportation is a bicycle. [I also] recycle and compost. Basically all these little things that happen in my life. I think about them before I do them. I I turn off the shower in between. How can I say while I'm soaking myself, so that I'm saving the energy not wasting the hot water. I think we can all intrinsically understand things that we do in our lives that are contributing to climate change in some way.

HENK ROGERS: And if we can just start picking one habit and make that change... We can all do these things. These are not things that only I can do. Now, these are things that we can all do, because we know intrinsically that there are some habits that we have that are really damaging to the planet. Find out what they are and start with one then go on to the next one. Go on to the next one until you have a whole bunch of good habits and if we all have good habits, you can actually fix this.


MITZI JONELLE: When we were speaking earlier, you alsO mentioned that you have a battery business and it also seems like you're also trying to maximize change including with your entrepreneurship and businesses. Can you talk a little bit about your choices in that realm?

HENK ROGERS: Yeah, I really had no plan to get into another business and I kind of backed into this business because we reached the point in Hawaii - because of the law that we passed, a solar rebate - we got to the point where this utility said we can't have any more rooftop solar because we can't take any more intermittent solar energy on the grid. Oh my gosh, after all this work we reached a certain point that the grid just can't handle anymore. I thought, well, Hawaii, it's happening faster than other places. But this is what's going to happen everywhere. The grid is just going to say we can't handle this. And so the answer to that is energy storage.

HENK ROGERS: As a result, I took my ranch with my house off grid and I started helping people and ended up in an energy storage business, because energy storage is the answer to intermittent energy and wind and solar which is the predominant renewable energy.

HENK ROGERS: So what happens in my ranch is because we're off grid we had to overfill the solar a little bit and so it works on a cloudy day. What happens on a sunny day we have all kinds of extra energy. And this is the problem that we're having. Now in many locations, including Europe. When there's too much sun, there's too much energy and the utility can't give away the energy. Well they should be using that energy to make hydrogen. Hydrogen is a very cheap to store long term solution to storage and the future and I saw the future today...I believe the future of the world should be geothermal generating hydrogen, and we move the hydrogen around the world to places that don't have enough renewable energy devoted here.


AUDIENCE MEMBER: One more question for Henk.You've talked about all the ways that you leverage your power in each of these spaces. Which of them is sort of most significant to you in terms of impact. And to other people who who have seen success as you've done, what would you like them to do more of?

HENK ROGERS: Yeah, the people who are successful, I would like them to think why did you become successful? Why did you collect all this money and what is your plan?...What are you planning to do with the rest of your life now that you've become successful?

HENK ROGERS: The successful people in the world- what is it that upsets you when you were in high school about the world can fix that?  I don't want you just spending your money on it. I want your talent because obviously you're successful, you did something with your life. I want you to use your talent your time whatever you have left to fix something in this world. Leave this world a better place than when you got there. And don't have your legacy be 'Oh, he made a bunch of money'. It's not much of an accomplishment actually, because you can't take it with you and your legacy. Is it that you made a bunch of money or did you actually do something that's a much better legacy, for yourself, for your children and your grandchildren and for the people of the world? Do something with the rest of your life.