(CNN) — Last month, a solar-powered trailer set off on a four-year journey that will cross six continents and 90 countries — all in a bid to stop global warming.
The first phase of the project — which has been largely crowdfunded, along with support from corporate sponsors — will take it on a six-month, 22,000-kilometer (13,670-mile) trip across 32 countries in Europe.
Louis Palmer, the brains behind the SolarButterfly, says the purpose of the trip is to highlight climate crisis solutions that already exist — and inspire others to take action.
“The message is that it’s possible to save the planet,” says Palmer.
The power of the sun
Constructed in collaboration with the engineering department at the University of Lucerne, the 21-meter-square (226 square-foot) SolarButterfly is built with a lightweight foam-like material made from recycled ocean plastic.
The trailer’s creator, Louis Palmer, says he hopes the journey will inspire others to make changes for a more eco-friendly future.
In case of bad weather or cloud coverage, Palmer says the trailer has an additional array of solar panels that can be put out on the ground when the vehicle is parked.
Designed to sleep four people, the trailer includes a small kitchen, toilet and shower room, and a flexible space that doubles as a bedroom, conference room and studio. Its other eco-features include rainwater harvesting and purification, a solar-heated water system, and fabrics and bedding made from biodegradable textiles.
Fully unfolded, the trailer’s “wings” offer 80 square meters of solar panels, charging the car and trailer.
“It’s a fantastic feeling that you know that we are not causing any trouble (to the environment),” says Palmer. “We can enjoy the beauty of this world without destroying it.”
A thousand climate change solutions
Next year, after the SolarButterfly completes its European tour, it will continue on to Asia and Australia, then North and South America in 2024, and Africa in 2025, before returning to Europe to finish in Paris on December 12, 2025 — just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Along the way, a rotating team of volunteers will meet with climate pioneers to highlight 1,000 climate change solutions, says Palmer: “We are looking for energy projects, mobility projects, architecture, food, agriculture, nature, reforestation — anything to do with climate change.”
The SolarButterfly is still recruiting volunteers to join the tour in a variety of roles, and the project will continue to be crowdfunded along the way, says Palmer — as well as taking suggestions for innovators and advocates to meet.
The SolarButterfly has been largely crowdfunded, in addition to support from corporate sponsors including electronics manufacturers Maxon, which hosted an event for the project in Sachseln, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022.
As a symbol of transformation, Palmer hopes the SolarButterfly can inspire more people to make positive, sustainable changes.
“Everybody in the world is aware of climate change, and everybody wants to do something, but has a feeling that they can’t,” says Palmer. “We can solve this problem, and that’s what we want to get across.”