RWTH Professor Malte Brettel (center) in the panel discussion with the guests of the GreenTech Late Night.
Andreas Schmitter

Open Hearts and Minds for Science in the Climate Crisis

First RWTH GreenTech Late Night at Theater Aachen

The audience was diverse, the theater was packed, and the topics were exciting, entertaining, and highly topical. The first RWTH GreenTech Late Night on June 19, 2023, offered the audience great variety.

How can we address the climate crisis? And how can we bring science, technology, and climate policy together? The GreenTech Late Night gave its attendees answers through stimulating discussions, expert assessments, late-night talks, cabaret, artistic exploration, and music. The invited guests explored the climate crisis and possible ways to combat it, each explaining their point of view in their own particular way. The event brought together the worlds of science and culture and offered new insights and inspiring discussions while shifting between both quiet and boisterous moments with quite a few surprises thrown in. The program took place on three stages at Theater Aachen – the main stage, the Spiegelfoyer, and the Kammer.

A Real Late-Night Talk Show Atmosphere

While the main stage focused on keynote speeches and short interviews, the Spiegelfoyer – a mirrored lobby that serves as a meeting space – offered quite an authentic late-night talk show atmosphere. Moderated by Aachen poetry slammer Oscar Malinowski, actor Hannes Jaenicke, entrepreneur Kelly Bencheghib, physicist and political satirist Vince Ebert, and biologist and techno DJ Dominik Eulberg, the event offered a perfect mix of evening entertainment. Things got a little experimental in the Kammer with a staged reading by theater ensemble members Nele Sommer and Philipp Manuel Rothkopf and a performance by Dominik Eulberg. As the event patron, Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, did not miss the opportunity to deliver a greeting via video.

Musical entertainment in the Spiegelsaal.
Andreas Schmitter

GreenTech Late Night aimed to answer complex questions at the intersections of research & technology, climate policy, and the economy in a well-founded, informative, and entertaining way. What contribution can innovations and environmental technologies make to help the world transition to sustainable energy? The event was also intended to highlight the diverse actions and engagement of individuals, activists, and NGOs, who all feel concerned and responsible.

Inspiring Hope

The good news is that we are not helpless. We can still do something; it just has to be done quickly. For example, in his rousing presentation, Horst von Buttlar, one of Germany’s best-known business journalists and a real “hope giver,” introduced select companies and projects – for instance, a machine that removes CO2 from the air.

Horst von Buttlar, Editor-in-Chief of WirtschaftsWoche.
Andreas Schmitter

Hannes Jaenicke, too, sees reason for hope, even though he is “extremely disappointed” and has lost faith in politicians and policymakers. At GreenTech Late Night, he took heart in the face of “startups like the ones here at RWTH, where they don’t merely talk but actually accomplish things.” He was also inspired by the professors who spoke “here on stage today.” His conclusion?

“We need to listen more to our scientists and engineers and care for our planet better.”

Actor Hannes Jaenicke in conversation with Oscar Malinowski.
Andreas Schmitter

– Author: Niels Knippertz