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  • Writer's pictureThe Citypreneurs Team

Calling for technology solutions to accelerate Net Zero

The Economic Impact of Climate Change

Current human activities such as manufacturing, electricity use, and transportation require the burning of fossil fuels which release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that increase global temperatures. Just over the past year and a half, we were able to witness the direct impact humans have on global warming: when entire transportation systems and industries were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an estimated 6% drop in carbon emissions.

However, even with a 6% drop in carbon emissions during the pandemic, the hottest temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were recorded in 2020. Global warming has already caused a loss in natural resources and more frequent and extreme natural disasters like wildfires, storms, droughts, and floods. Natural disasters are only projected to get worse if drastic measures are not taken to make human practices more sustainable. In addition, the UN reports that global productivity losses related to climate-change-related workplace disruption may rise above $2 trillion USD by 2030.

Reducing emissions requires large-scale transformations of the global energy–land–economy system, which will affect how energy is produced, agricultural systems are organized, and how food, energy and materials are consumed. Not only do these changes require new policies, innovations, and habits, they also require new business strategies that will help people adapt to and curb the effects of global warming.

The U.N. SDGs are driving governments, individuals, universities, and businesses to adjust their practices to achieve benchmarks and secure a sustainable future by 2030. Incorporating SDG 13, Climate Action, into businesses will help build resilience to tackle the unique challenges of a changing climate and show customers how businesses' prioritize the needs of all.

Citypreneurs, a UN-backed start-up ecosystem platform, hopes to achieve this by providing start-ups opportunities and resources to develop sustainable practices as outlined by the UN.

The Race to Net Zero

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Essential towards meeting the SDGs is the Paris Agreement, by which UN member states agreed to limit global warming to below 1.5°C.

In order to meet the 1.5°C global warming target, global carbon emissions should reach net zero by around 2050. Net Zero means balancing the continued output of emissions with the absorption of carbon from the environment without adding new emissions to the atmosphere. According to scenarios limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, carbon dioxide levels would need to reach net-zero between 2044 and 2052, and total greenhouse gas emissions must reach net-zero between 2063 and 2068.

To achieve Net Zero, involvement from various sectors is essential. The U.N. High Level Climate Champions’ Race to Zero campaign has called for cities, businesses, investors and civil society groups to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in advance of the United Nations climate negotiations (COP 26) in Glasgow in November 2021. Under the agreement to achieve Net Zero, 61 percent of countries, 9 percent of states and regions in the largest carbon-emitting countries, and 13 percent of larger cities have committed to Net Zero. A fifth of the major companies on the Forbes list, with annual sales of nearly $14 trillion, have done the same as well. In 2021, 131 countries, cities, financial institutions, and companies are now targeting reducing emissions to Net Zero by 2050.

How Startups can Tap into its Financial Opportunities

Commitments to Net Zero can not only curb the costly effects of global warming, but can spark significant financial opportunities for the market. Climate change-related technologies and services are expected to grow rapidly as the global transition to low-carbon energy gains momentum. With the Paris Agreement, climate-related investments are projected to reach $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2030.

Net Zero-carbon solutions are becoming competitive across economic sectors that make up about 25% of global emissions. By 2030, Net Zero solutions could be competitive in sectors representing over 70% of global emissions. There are endless business practices industries can adopt to cut down on carbon emissions: sourcing low-carbon materials, investing in on-site renewable energy, or building net-zero factories and end-of-life product cycles.

In order to meet growing business demand, Citypreneurs has partnered with Techstars in launching Sustainability Challenge: Net Zero. The challenge focuses on identifying tech-entrepreneurs and startups who are developing solutions to help businesses achieve Net Zero and forge meaningful collaborations to help founders get their innovative solutions to the market faster.


Innovators can submit their entries to one of three categories:

  • Carbon Accounting and Measurement — Businesses must be able to precisely measure and account for carbon emissions in order to progress down the path to Net Zero.

  • Quality Carbon Offsets — Solutions can include verification technology and leading nature-based options.

  • Industrial Carbon Reduction — Technology solutions that are scalable and can help corporations in the immediate future will receive strong consideration.

Selected startups will be offered mentorship and formal corporate BU introductions through pilot workshops and the Techstars Sustainability Summit. If you’re interested, visit here to find out more & apply!

Applications close on August 2, 2021.


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