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Mitigating climate change by activating the corporate world to change their behaviour

Ashoka Belgium Impact Programme 2020 introduces Kenneth Van den Bergh & Carbon+Alt+Delete (C+A+D). ūüí• Kenneth gave some insides into C+A+D's activities and how the Impact Programme is supporting them in exploring new opportunities. ūüĆĪ The Impact Programme is a multi-sector collaboration between Ashoka, ABN AMRO Private Banking Belgium and Accenture Belgium to foster social entrepreneurship in the fields of #circularity and #climatechange.
Carbon Alt Delete presentation

Carbon+Alt+Delete¬†started¬†out¬†in 2017¬†as a small project¬†to¬†help households measure and offset carbon emissions.¬†Kenneth Van¬†den¬†Bergh¬†is one of¬†the¬†four co-founders¬†who¬†all¬†share¬†an¬†ambition to¬†tackle¬†what¬†they¬†believe is the defining challenge of our time: climate change.¬†‚ÄúOur mission is to mitigate climate change by informing and activating people to change their behavior.‚ÄĚ Three years on, climate change¬†is rising on the¬†corporate agenda, and more and more companies are requesting their help. Supported by the 2020 Ashoka Impact¬†Programme, the team is¬†creating¬†a business plan for¬†a¬†software tool they are¬†developing,¬†and¬†the first¬†pilot¬†project¬†will be launched¬†this year.

Take action & pivot 

Inspiring¬†households¬†to take climate action is one thing. How can this be adapted to the corporate world? This is the challenge the¬†Carbon+Alt+Delete¬†team has set itself. The tool they are developing will enable companies to¬†calculate¬†their annual¬†CO2¬†emissions, from heating their buildings to company cars and business travel.¬†Although¬†they are excited¬†about¬†this¬†new¬†target group, Kenneth acknowledges¬†there are¬†challenges:¬†‚ÄúIt‚Äôs still rather early in¬†our¬†journey.¬†The¬†most defining moment¬†was¬†deciding to¬†dedicate¬†time to launching¬†this¬†project. That decision created momentum,¬†moving¬†from¬†just¬†an idea we discussed¬†in meetings to something that¬†could¬†really have¬†an¬†impact on¬†reducing¬†the¬†carbon¬†footprint¬†of companies. Applying to the Impact¬†Programme¬†and being accepted was a big accelerator.‚ÄĚ

Energy as motivation 

Finding solutions¬†to¬†reduce the waste and overconsumption of energy is what motivates Kenneth on a daily basis.¬†‚ÄúYou can probably imagine a world without cars, but a world without energy or without a viable climate¬†‚Ästthat‚Äôs hard to imagine. Working on topics that¬†address the¬†basic needs¬†of¬†humans¬†has always been appealing to me, and¬†from there¬†the step to climate change isn‚Äôt that far.‚ÄĚ This motivation highlights the qualities of a social entrepreneur: someone¬†who goes deeper¬†into the systemic problems of a social/environmental problem¬†in order¬†to find solutions¬†that¬†change behaviors and shift mindsets.¬†¬†

¬†‚ÄúCompanies now¬†realize that there is a price¬†attached to¬†carbon emissions,‚ÄĚ Kenneth adds.¬†¬†‚ÄúThey¬†are including carbon scenarios in their business strategy. This makes¬†us¬†optimistic that systemic change is possible, as business dynamics push organizations to include environmental impact in their¬†core activities.‚ÄĚ ¬†

Testing assumptions with stakeholders  

Although the Impact Programme seminars and the weekly coaching have been moved online due to the coronavirus, Kenneth still enjoys receiving an outside perspective during his weekly discussions with senior Ashoka, Accenture and ABN AMRO coaches. In addition, Carbon+Alt+Delete is given access to the networks of these three partners, which is an opportunity to test and validate hypotheses. This includes talking to companies to better understand their motivation for carbon accounting and managing carbon emissions.  

¬†‚ÄúI think the main takeaway is simply talk to other people! You can have a lot of great ideas within your team, but¬†that‚Äôs where¬†it¬†stops. We¬†have very similar¬†engineering¬†backgrounds¬†and¬†we all think in a similar way.¬†Talking to other people¬†helps¬†to¬†bring an outside perspective and¬†improve¬†the idea.‚ÄĚ ¬†

The corona crisis is an opportunity to change 

For Kenneth,¬†the upside of¬†the corona crisis¬†is the¬†opportunity¬†it offers¬†to reflect on¬†habits that¬†many people¬†previously¬†took for granted¬†in their daily working lives.¬†They¬†range from appreciating how¬†remote working¬†can boost efficiency¬†and avoid¬†wasted¬†hours¬†of¬†commuting,¬†to questioning¬†the necessity of¬†business travel.¬†The impact¬†on¬†global supply chains¬†has also been¬†enormous and¬†this is making¬†people think more locally, which¬†could have a positive impact on the climate. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs still too early¬†to know exactly what the long-term¬†impact will be¬†because everyone is still in a crisis management mindset. However,¬†maybe in a couple of months, some of these habits¬†that¬†are good for the climate will stick and we will move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.‚ÄĚ Carbon+Alt+Delete¬†certainly hopes to be at the forefront of¬†this¬†change,¬†by actively¬†helping households and companies¬†contribute to¬†a more environmentally sustainable future.