World climate hackathon launched

| 26th October 2018
Beach littered with plastics
The fourth 24-hour climate change hackathon is taking place simultaneously in major cities around the world.

The solutions to the climate crisis will be forged in cities, by citizens, start-ups, community groups, families and neighbours. 

London, Birmingham, Bangor, Coventry and Edinburgh will be among 115 cities around the world taking action on climate change today as part of  European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Climate-KIC’s annual Climathon. 

The event is an award-winning 24-hour hackathon that unites students, entrepreneurs, big thinkers, technical experts and app developers in tackling the defining climate challenges of their cities.

City-level action is needed to address climate change at speed and scale. Cities are already contributing over 70 percent of global carbon emissions and are growing rapidly, with 70 percent of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050. Together, cities hold the world’s biggest lever for slowing down global warming

Sustainable design

Teams hosted by local authorities, universities and NGOs from across the world including Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Sydney, Edinburgh and London will bring people together to solve local climate challenges – from sustainable food in Paris, to air pollution in Coventry, waste-management in Lagos, and smart mobility in Shanghai.

London teams will work on the problem of plastics. A major issue for the UK capital, attendees will be challenged to use sustainable design principles to help eliminate single-use plastic in London. A bold but achievable task.

Awareness is growing that unless we recast the role of plastics in our lives our seas will have more plastic than fish by 2050, which among other things, will reduce the ability of oceans to act as carbon sinks.

It is less well known that on current trajectories, petroleum-based plastics could contribute 15 per cent of global CO2 emissions by 2050 - overtaking aviation. Many businesses are looking at the opportunities that come with solving these problems. Up to 95 percent of material and energy value is lost in Europe, through single-use.

Climate-KIC already supports several London-based start-ups focused on plastics, including Skipping Rocks Lab, makers of the ubiquitous Ooho! seaweed-based water bottle ‘bubbles’ whose crowdfunding campaign went viral. The start-up has just teamed up with Just Eat to trial seaweed-based packaging for fast food packaging.

Innovative solutions

Another, Chrysalix Technologies, has developed a patented sustainable alternative to the petrochemicals that go into making plastics – a solution that has the potential to generate £25 billion of value for every 100M tonnes of unwanted, unrecycled waste wood that is used in their process.

In London last year one team developed a wearable device called ‘Co-Pilot’, initially aimed at cyclists providing real-time information on connected vehicles around them while another group devised an accommodation search engine enabling the user to determine their ideal area to live – based on sustainable transport provisions.

The solutions to the climate crisis will be forged in cities, by citizens, start-ups, community groups, families and neighbours. 

Other solutions developed in previous years have included a Cork-based transport app that awards citizens discounts in local stores based on the carbon savings they make and sustainable drainage systems to avert floods in Manchester.

Elliot Bushay from Climathon London said: “We are all very excited to see what teams come up with this year. We have had some amazing ideas grow and develop from Climathon and I have no doubt we will get some innovative ideas to solve the single-use plastic issue here in London during the day.”

Climathon, which had its first hackathon in the run up to the historic COP21 negotiations in Paris, has since grown to be the biggest international climate change hackathon in world history.

Climate crisis

In 2017, more than 100 cities in 44 countries across 6 continents hosted Climathons worldwide, with a total reach of 33 million people.

Winning Climathon 2017 teams from across the UK were invited to present their ideas to Minister of Climate Change and Clean Growth Claire Perry earlier this year.

Kirsten Dunlop, CEO, EIT Climate-KIC said: “The recent IPCC report has thrown down the gauntlet to governments and cities across the world. The challenges of meeting a 1.5 degree target are so immense that it is difficult to comprehend the scale and scope of collective transformation required.

“We have ten years to set radical changes in motion definitively across all sectors and, most crucially, in our own minds and everyday choices.”

Mark Watts, executive director, C40, a key partner of EIT Climate-KIC said: “For more than a decade, mayors of the world’s greatest cities have been working together to deliver the boldest possible climate action to help create the sustainable, low carbon and prosperous cities of the future. But they can’t do it alone. The solutions to the climate crisis will be forged in cities, by citizens, start-ups, community groups, families and neighbours. 

Future generations

Watts continued: “It is crucial to find new and innovative ways to connect these citizens with each other and with city halls. The EIT Climate-KIC Climathon offers an innovative approach to deliver that and ensure new ideas and commitment to a better future for the next generation will be nurtured by mayors, city leaders and businesses.

“Only by working together will we deliver on the highest ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

This Author 

Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This story is based on a press release from EIT Climate-KIC. Follow the Climathon from 26 October 2018 on social media via the #Climathon hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

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