By Michael Palmquist

On Monday (3/20/23), the IPCC released the Summary Synthesis Report of its 6th assessment cycle. The report gives its “final warning” about the immediate need to take swift and drastic actions to avoid exceeding 1.5°C (2.7 °F) of planetary warming – the limit regarded as mostly liveable. Given our current trajectory of GHG emissions, we will pass the 1.5°C mark before their next scheduled meetings. We clearly continue moving in the wrong direction.

On the same morning, a colleague asked whether SolarNexus would be attending the RE+ Plus trade show in Las Vegas this September. “No,” I replied. 

SolarNexus has exhibited at about 10 trade shows over the past 12 yrsI love seeing industry colleagues who I rarely see, but I’ve always been a little appalled at the excesses of trade shows. But is it really excessive?. After a bit of Googling, I found this B2B trade show group’s report on sustainability – a surprising find, and admittedly cool that some folks in that industry are at least thinking about their impact. It claims that the US B2B trade show industry’s footprint is equivalent to the annual footprint of about 395,000 average US citizens (~ 1.2% of the population). That’s a lot, especially considering how high an average American’s emissions are compared to most residents on planet earth. The report says about 80% of the carbon footprint of B2B trade shows is directly attributable to visitor travel.). Not surprisingly, transportation is the single largest sector of GHG emissions in the US.

At this point, we must collectively consider the impact of every single thing we do. So I’ve got a serious question for the solar industry: do we need in-person trade shows to accomplish our mission? 

Googling for evidence of trade show effectiveness shows plenty of claims- virtually all of which is provided by those selling products and services in the trade show industry. One interesting data point from an industry trade group claims the cost for meeting a new prospect at a trade event is $142 per meeting, compared to over $250 to meet a prospect face to face at their office. Really? A comparison to traveling to each individual prospect’s office? Duh.

Maybe instead of traveling to trade shows, we need to rely on proven digital marketing with small GHG footprints. We can hold webinars and virtual events, use gate content (white papers, eBooks, product demos and webinars), and digital engagement (social media, emails, media partnerships). Another opportunity is to all join our local solar energy industry organizations and encourage them to hold many more hyper local events. 

What do you think? Send me an email at

Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash