Mike Muldoon is Head of Business Development and Marketing at Alstom, UK & Ireland. Alstom is the maker of the Coradia iLint, the world’s first hydrogen powered train. It hit the tracks in Germany last year, and Alstom has teamed up with Eversholt Rail to design a version for the UK rail network.
Do you think it’s important we respond to the climate emergency?
Yes – responding to the climate emergency is not a matter of choice. Despite its relatively good performance within the transport sector, the rail industry risks being complacent if it fails to respond, immediately, to the climate emergency.
Why do you think we need green radicals at a time like this?
Not only do we need to think ambitiously, we also need to act ambitiously. Green radicals are needed to push this ambition – and challenge the barriers and preconceptions that are blocking change.
How would you define a green radical?
A person or collective who is passionate about delivering solutions to address the climate emergency. Their radical vision drives the conception and delivery of practical solutions.
Do you regard yourself as a green radical?
Absolutely. Alstom’s essence, mobility by nature, reflects our ambition to be the leading global innovative player for sustainable and smart mobility.
How has your organisation taken a radical approach to environmental action?
Providing solutions to address climate change has been on Alstom’s radar for a long time – we understand the scale of the emergency and have redefined who we are as an organisation to ensure that tackling climate change is at the heart of what we do.
The recent completion of a year in service by our Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell trains, the world’s first hydrogen trains, is simply the latest demonstration of our radical innovation.
How do you build the business case for radical change?
Radical change can be achieved when stakeholders share common targets, agree on how those targets are to be valued in a business case, and embrace the basic fact that being radical is the only way to make change.
What’s the biggest barrier to you making change?
Rail is heavily regulated and those regulators can be slow to support new technologies. Traditional infrastructure investors may not be attracted to greener products unless they can see the return. The pace at which change must be achieved runs into overwhelming inertia unless the fundamental necessity for change is shared and understood. Stable and clear objectives, typically set in legislative policy, can help make change feel more comfortable and persuade markets and businesses that what looks like a risk is, in fact, an opportunity.
How have customers, employees and stakeholders responded?
Passengers love our Coradia iLint hydrogen powered trains. Commentators from the New York Times to Lad Bible have all lauded the achievement of Alstom in making this vision a reality. And our people are so proud of their involvement with a globally recognised green innovation.
What’s the secret to taking a radical idea mainstream?
Make sure it works.
How do you inspire others towards radicalism?
Passion and enthusiasm are infectious, but ultimately demonstrating how radical change can be achieved without pain and disruption to the people we want to inspire is key.
If Alstom being radical means a better journey experience for passengers despite being greener, it is easy to inspire.
Which area of the economy do you think is most in need of radical change?
We shouldn’t think of the economy in silos. We need to collaborate, bringing together multiple sectors which all share the same vision to reach net zero. If one area of the economy fails to change, it could drag down all the rest with it.
What’s the most radical thing you’ve ever done?
I have probably spent more time talking to the green energy sector than I have the transport sector in the last year!
That may not sound radical at all but after 30 years working in one sector, not needing to move outside our known environment, it signals the sort of change we all need to make if we are to reach the goal.
Who are the green radicals that inspire you today?
Local government has been showing real leadership both in the UK and across the world to drive green programmes. Mayors and cities have been driving forward new mass transit transport systems, while legislators in California brought in disruptive and transformative regulations to drive green change.
And I’d particularly like to give a shout out to the metro mayors in the UK who are taking the lead on huge environmental challenges. Together they are shaping policy that will encourage radical change from business.
What one radical thing would you like people to do right now to change our future?
For your next journey, leave your car behind and take the train.
This interview forms part of a series of interviews that were published in a new report, New Green Radicals: The business leaders responding to the climate emergency. The report follows last year’s ‘Meet the Disruptors’ and 2017’s ‘Secrets of the Pioneers’ reports, and this year features interviews with entrepreneurs, leaders and creators who are providing radical solutions to the climate crisis.
The report is produced by Greenhouse PR in association with BusinessGreen and was launched at the BusinessGreen Leaders’ Summit on October 23rd. Follow live on social media with #NewGreenRadicals.
At Greenhouse, we support a wide variety of organisations pioneering climate action. Whether it’s fashion, finance or farming, if you’ve got a great story and need our help to tell it, get in touch with the Greenhouse team on 0117 214 1250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.