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Recap of Keynote & Launch Event November 2020

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

On Monday, 9 November, 2020, Martin Wainstein launched this years Collabathon Development Sprint, which will run throughout November 2020.

In his keynote Martin Wainstein provided background to the Collabathon concept and why it is now more timely than ever to engage in this open collective effort: "The open climate project underpinning the Collabathon started with a challenge and inspiration of how to best leverage digital technology to help us manage our single planetary carbon budget, which is the remaining physical quantity of greenhouse gases - such as CO2 - that we can fit in our atmosphere before driving temperatures to dangerous conditions. Since this is a single atmospheric account that we all share, we could understand it as a large accounting problem that we now all face as humans.

"What I hope this year has made apparent to everyone is that global impacts affect us all and it makes apparent that we are all deeply connected, because we are part of the same system - the Earth system. And the solutions to address our global issues can only be most effective, when we address them together," emphasizes Martin Wainstein.

Martin Wainstein leads the Open Innovation Lab at Yale University and the Open Earth Foundation. He says: "Both organizations focus on designing and incubating bold open source projects that explore 'How emerging digital technologies can help us address some of our planets major challenges like climate change?' and more than anything 'How we can do this by making collaboration our most important technology?' The Collabathon naturally was born out of this level of thinking."

Watch the complete launch keynote here:

Find the overall playlist for the Open Climate Dialogues of November 2020 here.


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The following text derives from the transcript of the launch keynote by Martin Wainstein:

The Collabathon was launched in 2019 from the Yale Openlab. as an experiment, but it has spun off as an independent organization, thanks to the collective effort that everyone has been putting together.

"We in some sense all have been inspired particularly this year to turn the COVID-19 crisis which has left the whole world on lockdown and has postponed the United Nations Framework Conventional Climate Change meeting COP26, that was bound to launch today. Now, we have turned that crisis into an opportunity: The opportunity is to hold this virtual space - the Collabathon - over the next couple of weeks. We hope to do our best to help everyone that comes through to figure out how they may best plug into these common efforts and common projects. Several Open Source communities are also bringing together what they have been working on, as well as some of the teams from last year that have continued until till this day," says Martin Wainstein.

In the following Martin Wainstein discussed the drastic world events in 2020 related to climate change. From the most dramatic bushfires in Australian history to the single hottest day ever recorded in Antarctica and its nexus to species decease.

"On February 6, 2020, Antarctica recorded 18 degrees Celsius around 65 Fahrenheit. It was hotter in Antarctica than it was in Los Angeles California, where I am talking to you from. This heat wave not only rapidly accelerates sea level rise and the demise of the ice sheets in Antarctica, but because it rained in Antarctica large colonies of newborn penguins died of hypothermia. It halved the entire population of chinstrap penguins. This is how delicate and intricate our entire planet Earth is. By March, of course the entire world was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and still is. I would like for us to acknowledge how much this has severely impacted people around the world. Lives lost, jobs lost and some more affected than others," recognizes Martin Wainstein.

Whatever plans we had, we have been needing to adapt constantly. "And this is already a good example of that we were waiting for having a COP26 launching today in Glasgow and that has been postponed for next year. Now, even while the pandemic heightened we witnessed some of the most heavy racial tensions and social divisions in decades in the U.S., but also across the world. And not long ago also California experienced the worst wildfire season in the state's history, burning over four million acres," says Martin Wainstein.

"Finally, the last couple of weeks have been with the backdrop of the U.S elections, a climate policy and science battleground. So, not all news has been bad. The turnout of the election produces a huge sense of relief in our global efforts for climate action and upholding science. Now, you can all reflect individually on your 2020 timeline and let us give ourselves props for having made it this far. But what I hope this year has made apparent to everyone is that global impacts affect us all and it makes apparent that we are all deeply connected, because we are part of the same system - the Earth system. And the solutions to address our global issues can only be most effective, when we address them together. Now, digital technologies have helped us with the realization of the global connectivity that we are somehow able to connect with each other, but it introduces merely tools. It is up to us to use them the right way," concludes Martin Wainstein before he transitioned into a quick primer to help map the state of climate accounting and target the efforts for the Collabathon crowd-development over the coming weeks:

"2020 is the historic year of peak emissions. We should not emit more next year than we did this year. And we are in a steep road ahead down to net zero by 2050. This is why the Paris Agreement is such an important policy and tool, but our road ahead is still quite challenging. We need to half our entire emissions in the next 10 years, half them again in 2040, get to net zero by 2050 and negative emissions to 2100," states Martin Wainstein.

We then have also the challenge of 'How to mobilize large scale capital to decarbonize from our energy and electricity sector?' That is a trillion dollars a year that needs to go into the energy system to help us decarbonize. And we need to do this in the most effective and targeted way.

When we think about climate accounting, we have a couple of important pieces here to map:

"One is from the point of the Paris Agreement," explains Martin Wainstein. "Countries submit their nationally determined contribution to the framework - their greenhouse gas inventories - and at the same time the UNFCCC - the framework convention - gathers all that world actor data and has to compare it with what also Earth science says and what the IPCC is describing. And here's one interesting gap for us to think about a piece to integrate which is, can we have automated data systems for Global Stocktakes and consolidating what the world is saying and what the Earth is stating.

The second important part of this is the role of what we term as non-state actors. That includes our provinces, our states, our cities, our companies and of course ourselves. Now, for the most part non-state actors are not part of what countries report. Obviously, they are represented in their report, but that data is not necessarily normalized or nested within the country. This is an interesting area of opportunity that we explore as how to connect this.

Finally, what are the types of incentives for all of us to be part of the Paris Agreement. To be part to have incentives to have a clear pledge that is aligned with science and clear accounting.

This has also inspired the project in the point of view of what this looks like on a timeline. On a timeline, by 2023 we will have our first Global Stocktake, which is when the secretariat will bring in together all those NDCs and the inventories for countries and basically do an accounting check 'What did you say you were going to do? What did you do so far? What is missing?' and 'How do we increase ambitions going forward?'

One of the kickoff panels that we will have today will be about the independent Global Stocktake, which is an independent effort to that important landmark happening every five years to do our stocktake. From the point of view of the Openlab at Yale and the Open Earth Foundation, we have been thinking about how to weave this from the point of view of system dynamics that help us link how financial capital moves into climate action, how that links into climate value, how do we have clear accounts and records and how that also influences driving more financial capital."

"From the point of view of the Openlab at Yale and the Open Earth Foundation, we have been thinking about how to weave this from the point of view of system dynamics that help us link how financial capital moves into climate action, how that links into climate value, how do we have clear accounts and records and how that also influences driving more financial capital," describes Martin Wainstein.

When we think about digital platforms, we try to think about 'How do we link these systems so that there is more trust, automation and optimization of the whole process?'

"One part is the area of climate finance automation. We have been exploring that in a project called open finance. And the other one is on climate accounting, asking 'How do we link climate certified climate value back into climate finance?' That has launched the open climate project.

In some of our preliminary work - and this is very early stages - we have identified four key parts: One is the role of consensus on the state of the planet - Earth data. The other one is being able to create one-stop climate portals, but more than anything, platforms of platforms. And as I will discuss soon the role of nested accounting 'How do we make sure that all of our data kind of rolls up to the global level and how to link finance with climate certification?'

From the point of certification this is very relevant, because as soon as we have an action that we do either positive or negative, we often turn them into an asset, a certificate that that action happened. And this is where we normally discuss this in terms of monitoring, reporting and verifying those actions. This is fundamentally where a lot of our incoming digital tools can help a lot and optimize this process, creating trust and reducing the cost of certifying these actions. Satellite and Big data, LiDAR, IoT sensors, AI and Blockchains helping create trusted record sets.

This - from the point of view of climate assets - is also relevant for climate markets. And we will talk in our fifth panel on technologies and standards to create more interoperability of markets. But I would like to then focus on the importance of the asset. 'How do we move towards having a standardized climate unit across the world that could be easily read by digital systems - understanding either positive or negative CO2 equivalencies - following methodologies, following data, following protocol?'

There is a lot of work that has been done over the years from the secretariat, particularly from the Kyoto process. And as we are moving to Paris there is a lot more heterogeneity. So, this is a huge area of opportunity and it is very relevant as we start hearing a lot of companies pledging to be Net Zero. 'How are we going to do robust accounting their credits and debits, their positives and negatives to ensure that they are on on track to meet their Net Zero pledge?'

Finally and one of the important pieces is what I was describing around Nested Accounting, 'How could data from projects on the ground - that are often owned by companies - roll up to the sub-national level and then automatically go into national level inventories and the international process?'

We have been doing a lot of work on how does GIS data help us tag such climate units. And looking at jurisdictions from a point of view of a spatial contract. When you retire or you certify an action happening in one territory, ideally that rolls up.

This research roadmap, that we have evolved over the years, led us to this holistic framework, bringing these three pieces - the open climate framework that talks about understanding the linkage between Earth System State with the World System Registries, linking with Climate Action Certification, making that easy to enter Networked Climate Markets and Climate Finance. Now, this is very ambitious to such a level that it inspired the Collabothon.

Taking that framework driving different pieces of these themes, the way the Collabathon is set out is we have invited Nodes from around the world whose participants assemble teams and work on different prompts. And we had different experts come in and present different challenges. This is also what will continue this year with working groups.

This is a primer of what led our research on the role of technology and climate accounting to say - 'How do we make this part of everyone's effort? How can we leverage collective intelligence into this context?'

What we are up to from the point of view of the Collabathon is in some sense trying to help move our paradigm shifts. We often talk about four key paradigm shifts that we have ahead:

"How do we drive innovation and economic value from collaboration rather than competition? Competition often forces us into the illusion that we are separated. Collaboration reinforces that we are connected. How do we transition from the illusion of ownership - when it comes to Earth natural resources - into the fundamental commitment of stewardship with the? How do we enlighten our sense of maximizing self-interest when it comes to corporate goals? - to mean that we do not just focus on our individual self, but that we understand self interest as our collective self and can combine together. How do we understand the social innovations to address some of these paradigms with technologies?," concludes Martin Wainstein.

Concluding his keynote, Martin Wainstein then opened up the floor for shout outs from the overall Collabathon organizing team: "The Collabathon operates the entire year thanks to the work of a network of volunteers, a decentralized collective investing their own time on this shared vision that global collaboration can help us address planetary scale problems." This invitation was followed by introductions from organizing team members Bonnie Wolfe from Hack for LA, Tim Lloyd from Sensorica, Noah Thorp from CoMakery and Luka Zrnic from Net Impact ESMT Berlin.


Join a team & contribute to prompts via our digital environments here!

Find out more about our 2020 Working Groups here!


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