The carbon neutrality challenge

How might data-driven solutions enable companies to reach carbon neutrality?

The challenge of carbon neutrality

Carbon emissions are the leading cause of climate change. The greenhouse effect – an increase in earth’s temperature caused by heat being “trapped” in the atmosphere – driven by rising emissions from human activity is accelerating global warming to worrisome levels. The EU launched a series of actions under the Green Deal framework to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Carbon neutrality entails balancing carbon emissions and carbon absorption in carbon sinks. Carbon sinks are systems that absorb more carbon than they emit. Examples of carbon sinks are forests, oceans, and soil. To date, no artificial carbon sink can remove carbon from the atmosphere as effectively as natural ones. Most businesses work towards carbon neutrality by offsetting emissions. Carbon offsetting entails seeking balance in carbon emissions of one sector by reducing them in another. Typical examples of carbon offsetting programs are investments in renewable and clean energy. The EU supports carbon offsetting through the emission trading system (ETS).

Read more about the EU climate neutrality goals here.


The journey towards carbon neutrality

Companies increasingly tackle the challenge of running their enterprise carbon neutral to reduce their environmental impact and preserve natural resources. The transformation towards carbon neutrality requires a proper plan and the commitment of all stakeholders.

The journey toward carbon neutrality is based on three key steps. First, companies need to commit and analyze their current emission levels fully. Second, actions have to be formulated to initiate the change, and projects launched to reduce or offset emissions. Third, the results of the change process have to be constantly evaluated.


The promise of data-driven solutions to support carbon neutrality

While the three steps toward carbon neutrality seem straightforward, assessing the status quo, defining specific actions, and providing constant monitoring of the actions is hard. While enabling startups, helpful technologies, and promising projects are emerging; we believe technology and innovation are not utilized to their full potential. Especially data-driven solutions need to be leveraged to a greater extent.

Data support the journey towards carbon neutrality by providing insights into the main sources of emissions within the business; informing decisions on what actions are likely to produce the best results; and allowing businesses to monitor whether the actions have been successful.

Data-driven solutions include new systems, information, processes, products, or services that support the goal of becoming become carbon neutral. Some examples of existing companies that have tackled the problem of climate neutrality are listed below.


Your challenge

How might data-driven solutions enable companies to reach carbon neutrality?

The Klimathon aims to help companies identify and implement the transformation process toward carbon neutrality. This challenge is relevant for every company. Therefore, we have no limitation on what industries your solution is suitable for. You can choose a specific industry or present an idea that is applicable across industries.  For those interested in the tourism sector, think about innovative ideas how we can leverage data to transform this industry to net zero. It is evident that travel and tourism is highly vulnerable to climate change and at the same time contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Your solution can be targeted to travelers or the different types of businesses involved in tourism.


Solutions may address one or more aspects of the transformation toward carbon neutrality. Your solutions could address some of the following aspects:

– Collection, monitoring, and analysis of valuable data: You can focus on the three steps of the journey toward carbon neutrality.

– Identification of weak spots and opportunities: You might prioritize the assessment of current levels of emissions as a basis for decision-making.

– Creation, selection, and implementation of carbon-reducing actions/projects/improvements: You can assume you have data about emissions and focus on specific actions toward carbon neutrality, including carbon offsetting programs.

– Design of communication strategies: You can emphasize on the communication of climate neutrality efforts to ensure stakeholders’ commitment across businesses and industries.


What types of solutions can be developed at the Klimathon?

Keep in mind that we see data as an enabler for new solutions. Data has the power to improve existing processes, workflows, or products and services. You are not expected to set up a database or develop a functional solution. Programming or data science skills are not necessary. This hackathon is about creativity, not data-analytical, coding, or engineering skills. We encourage you to research best practices that use data to fight climate change and apply existing approaches to problems that have not been tackled yet.  Use the 48 hours to develop a well-thought-through concept that you turn into a first prototype. A functional version can be developed after the hackathon.

Solutions can fall into (but are not limited to) one or more of the existing categories:

– Database structures showing companies’ level of emission;

– Tools that assist companies developing and evaluating their Co2 balance;

– IoT applications to gather and monitor data (e.g. electricity consumption);

– Applications that constantly evaluate the companies’ footprint;

– Apps and platforms for employees/customers to suggest and take part into carbon reduction efforts (e.g. incentives for low footprints, crowdfunding of private projects);

– Campaigns to communicate the companies’ efforts in the change process.


The reward

The real reward is contributing to tackle one of today’s toughest problems.  The best solutions will receive prizes and/or get support during the implementation phase. This means you have the possibility to continue working on your idea as a paid project team within the Inncubator for 3 months.



Evaluation of Impact

Klima.metrix – Software to calculate footprint

Klima.metrix built a software to quickly calculate the footprint of companies according to common global calculation standards.


Reduce Impact

Ummadum – Mobility alternatives

Companies  can add their employees to the mobility service Ummadum. Employees get incentivized to choose sustainable mobility by points and the companies can monitor how much CO2 is saved as a consequence.


Kitro – Tourism and Hospitality to reduce waste

This startup is helping hospitality reduce food-waste. After installing a sensor directly on top of your food bins data is collected and Kirto’s intelligent software identifies where and how you can reduce food waste and save money.


Compensate Impact

Pina – Protecting forests by quantifying and rewarding sustainable forest management

By cultivating your owned forest, you have the possibility to generate new revenue by selling CO2 certificates to companies. A certificate is generated after every additional absorbed ton of CO2.

More inspirations are shared via Slack.


Sign up to tackle the challenge or learn more about the Klimathon.