UN Ambassador's flying visit to Celtic Renewables

University spinout included in mission to meet the innovators tackling climate change 

Date posted

7 September 2021


A University spinout company has enjoyed a flying visit from the UN Ambassador for the Convention on Migratory Species.

Sacha Dench touched down in Scotland and met Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables.

Sacha Dench with her paramotor outside the plant and underneath the Celtic Renewables sign with Martin Tangney

She flew in over local Falkirk landmark the Kelpies on an electric paramotor as part of her round Britain climate challenge to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and shine a light on the innovators working to solve the crisis.

Known as the 'Human Swan’ for her global expeditions with migratory species, Sacha turned her focus to climate change for this expedition after losing her family home in the Australian bushfires.

She began her expedition from the host city of COP26, Glasgow, in June and has flown across Britain, stopping off to interview people.

The UN ambassador toured the Celtic Renewables plant – which will be the first biorefinery in the country - and learned first-hand how Professor Tangney’s innovation converts unwanted and low-value biological materials, such as by-products from whisky distilling, into high-value, low carbon chemicals which can replace petrochemicals currently used in the multitude of products we use every day from cleaning materials to food production.

The expedition film crew recorded her visit and Sacha interviewed Professor Tangney for a compilation film of expedition stories that will be presented at the United Nations Climate Change Conference - COP26 - in Glasgow in November. 

There is also a TV documentary being made about her trip which is due to be aired later this year that will be presented by Joanna Lumley.

Sacha said: “We’re trying to answer the question ‘We drove the Industrial Revolution; can we drive the Green Revolution too?’. As part of this expedition, we have been investigating how climate change is affecting different regions of the country and showing in a visually stunning and exciting way what is happing to help cut carbon and preserve and restore our environment.”

Professor Tangney said: “We are thrilled to host Sacha here at Celtic Renewables as part of this ambitious round Britain Climate Challenge. In our view, COP26 must move us from justifying ‘why’ we need to tackle climate change, to determining ‘how’, and Sacha's expedition shining a spotlight on the people and initiatives helping us achieve Net Zero, is helping set this direction of travel.

“Innovation is key to achieving this goal, and in taking the idea from University research to bringing this first production plant into operation we will show that low-carbon biotechnology innovation can be both commercially sustainable and environmentally sustainable.

“Celtic Renewables is part of the emerging global bio-based economy, and our patented technology can and will play an important role in achieving Net Zero across the world."