Wärtsilä Unveils Lifeboats for Buildings to Highlight Need for Climate Change Action

Wartsila lifeboats on buildings
Illustration credit: Wartsila

As part of campaign highlighting the need for immediate action to reduce the impacts of fossil fuel-driven climate change, Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has unveiled a controversial idea that envisions lifeboats for buildings on land in flood-prone areas.

Wärtsilä calls the conceptual lifeboat a product that should never exist. Nevertheless, without action to reduce humankind’s impact on climate change, the technology offers a glimpse of what could be in store for future generations. While not a real product (yet), the lifeboats, in theory, could be used in cases of severe flooding and rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“We want to underline the urgency of the situation and to amplify the critical need to move climate change discourse ?to action,” Wärtsilä says on its website. “This is why the experts at Wärtsilä developed a product that should never see the light of day.”

The hypothetical lifeboat for buildings is conceptualized and designed by Wärtsilä Ship Design and features Wärtsilä’s smart technologies from both Marine and Energy, such as dynamic positioning, autodocking, wireless charging and 100% renewable energy. The company unveiled idea this week at Slush Helsinki, a conference for tech startups.

“This hypothetical lifeboat is a way for Wärtsilä to amplify the critical need to move climate change discourse to action. In fact, the concept is not as unimaginable as we first think. The boats would have been useful in the recent floods in Italy and Indonesia. We must act now, together. Or the unthinkable will happen and this lifeboat will have to be built for real,” says Marco Ryan, Chief Digital Officer at Wärtsilä.

As part of the global campaign, Wärtsilä is also looking for partners to help it in its ambition of achieving a 100% renewable future and sustainable shipping.

“This is an open invitation to start-ups, partners, customers and future colleagues. We are eager to collaborate with tech-heads around the globe and across industries to find smart solutions for energy and marine. We are after perfect matches in Slush,” says Steffen Knodt, Director Digital Ventures.

“We simply cannot afford to wait for the marine and energy industries to improve at the current pace. Climate change and scarcity of natural resources call for innovative and creative solutions that Wärtsilä is already developing, but we cannot deliver our purpose ‘enabling sustainable societies with smart technology’ without equally forward-looking partners”, emphasises Wärtsilä’s President and CEO Jaakko Eskola.

Marko Vainikka, Director of Corporate Relations and Sustainability at Wärtsilä, comment: “Technologies play an important role in the mitigation of the impacts of climate change. Sustainability has been at the forefront in everything we do for decades. Our sustainability targets call us to reduce our own energy consumption by 7% by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gas emission from gas engines by 15% by 2020. These goals among others need to be achieved in order to avoid a future where lifeboats for buildings are needed.”