Thousands to Pull Climate Action All-Nighter in Cities Around The World

Photo: Triff / Shutterstock
Photo: Triff / Shutterstock

Thousands of people in major cities across the world are pulling an all-nighter to respond to climate change on a global scale.

Climate-KIC’s Climathon, a hackathon-style event, brings together specific urban challenges with the people who have the passion and ability to solve them.

Some 60 cities across almost 40 countries on 6 continents have set up a local climate change challenge for teams to respond to. Most cities will start the challenge on Friday 28 October and finish on Saturday.

To come up with solutions, students, entrepreneurs, big thinkers, technical experts and app developers around the world are staying up for 24-hours to work on innovative solutions during the global marathon session. You can follow the developments via a website and the #Climathon hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.

Solar Impulse’s Bertrand Piccard – one the pilots to fly the first solar-powered aircraft around the world – was among the innovation and policy leaders to address participants through a special video message.

“Imagine the business opportunities, not only for the environment but also for the economy and the industry. To replace all the old, outdated, inefficient and polluting systems with new, modern clean technologies,” Piccard said, “That’s a goal we should all share together, so let’s fight for it.”

Earlier this month, a report revealed that governments around the world are expected to spend $90 trillion on sustainable infrastructure over the next 15 years, two-thirds of which in cities. Existing infrastructure – spanning sectors such as energy, public transport, buildings, water supply and sanitation – is estimated to be responsible for 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

City-Level Action

Many of the cities to participate are major urban centres such as Toronto, Sydney, Bogota, Addis Ababa and Shanghai.

Challenges addressed by participants in Europe include London‘s air quality problem, Berlin‘s waste management situation and the recycling strategy in Paris. Tibor Navracsics, the EU Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, said Climathon participants can help “build the Europe of the future.”

“Young people have a vital role in tackling global challenges such as climate change. We need to ensure they can participate fully in making the change Europe needs,” Navracsics said.

Mohamed said the Climathon helps provide “the critical impetus for city citizens, innovators, business experts and policy makers to come together in a global climate movement to solve one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

City-level action to address climate change is needed at speed and scale. Cities already contribute over 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and are rapidly growing, with some 70 per cent of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2050 according to the World Bank.

Global Collaboration

“Climate change is a global problem and to fight it, we need collaboration on a global scale and from all levels of government. We need everyone doing their part to find solutions,” said Glen Murray, minister of the environment and climate change in Canada’s Ontario province.

Participants in Toronto are looking for ways big data can help reduce the carbon emissions from the city’s transportation grid.

“Innovators in clean technology are going to find new and expanding opportunities here in Ontario. I’m pleased to be part of Toronto’s first Climathon and I’m encouraged to see the enthusiasm and creativity of students and entrepreneurs who can’t wait to get started in the low-carbon economy,” Murray said.

Climate-KIC’s Mohamed specifically addressed the marathon element of the Climathon in his message to participants today. “The extremely intensive 24-hour period is really important for driving the spirit of community through all of the participants around the globe,” he said, adding “You are not going to be alone, there are going to be thousands of people doing exactly the same.”

Climathon locations around the world include major universities, research centres, government facilities and corporate offices.

Everyday Reality

This year’s event builds on the success of the inaugural Climathon, which saw teams in 20 cities across six continents come together to identify – and work on solutions for – local urban climate change problems.

“The science of climate change is indisputable, but the problem often seems so removed from everyday reality that organisations have for many years struggled to engage citizens,” said Ebrahim Mohamed, director of education at Climate-KIC.

Ideas that emerged from the 2015 hack ranged from encouraging cycling in Copenhagen, conscientious and cost-effective means of river or stream reclamation in Addis Ababa, to public-private partnerships to reduce food waste in Washington DC.

Mohamed added: “Last year’s teams were inspired and motivated by their counterparts in cities around the world, and many have gone on to form successful businesses and public-private partnerships that are helping to ensure the impacts of climate change are mitigated.”

EU Commissioner Navracsics said the Climathon can make a “big contribution to training a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

“It connects them to a global network and enhances crucial skills such as team-work, creativity and openness that are vital to help young people find fulfilling work, become engaged citizens and help build the Europe of the future,” Navracsics said.

UPDATE: Check out this overview of 30 of the 2016 Climathon’s winning solutions.

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