To prevent dangerous climate change and environmental destruction, the world needs quality data to inform and drive action. That’s where CDP comes in: for years, our data has fed capital markets globally, informing the environmental action of financial organizations, corporations, policymakers and other institutions. It is a key tool for their purchasing decisions, investment portfolio selections and environmental performance benchmarks. Yet, as this data grows in volume and complexity year upon year, so does the potential for it to be used in new and impactful ways. It contains a treasure trove of insights that can give us clarity into what must be done to transition from a grey to a green economy.
Recognizing this, CDP North America sought to engage the data science community to tap into technological powerhouses that share our vision. With the help of our partners Dell Technologies, Google, and BQuest Foundation, we’re excited to announce our first-ever CDP data competition series, which launched this month and will continue through 2020.
The series includes three competitions:
- June 1-7: A virtual hackathon in partnership with Dell for their global employees
- July 20-27: A public virtual hackathon hosted by CDP
- September-December: A public data competition hosted by Kaggle, a Google Cloud platform
The goal of the data competition series is to identify and unlock opportunities for sustainability collaboration, comparison and learnings across companies, cities, states, regions, investors and other interested parties. By bringing together the data science community with environmental sustainability experts, we can tap into great potential for discovering data-driven solutions to our most pressing global problems. This competition series was also designed to raise awareness of climate change, water insecurity, deforestation risk and city resilience, and the significant role that corporate and city data can play in finding environmental solutions.
We kicked off the data competition with an exploratory hackathon for Dell employees coinciding with World Environment Day. Beginning on June 1, over 600 Dell employees in 155 teams from across the globe participated in our first hackathon. Over the course of a week, participants explored three major challenges:
City-Business Collaboration: Many companies and cities are disclosing very similar environmental risks and opportunities, however they struggle to address these risks collaboratively. Public-private partnerships can catalyze and expedite progress on clean energy, sustainable buildings, clean transport and waste – but in order to connect companies and cities, we need to first understand how the data they each report is aligned or divergent, and identify opportunities for collaboration around mutual sustainability goals that will ultimately benefit all citizens of the city.
- The winning team focused on enabling more remote work – a viable path to cutting both an employer’s and an employee’s carbon footprint – by creating a potential policy as well as a data-based framework for cities to identify future opportunities for remote work.
Water Security & Climate Change Risk: Water security is one of the most basic human rights, but it is under threat in many U.S. cities – from Flint to Newark to Dos Palos. Though CDP for years has collected high-quality data from cities and companies on water security and expected climate risks, much of that information is in the form of free-form text, which is difficult to analyze and compare at scale. To help companies and cities fully understand their current water security and future climate risks, we must first inspect how these stakeholders are reporting (or under-reporting) qualitative data on both to compare how well nearby companies and cities understand their climate and water risks in that region.
- The winning team overlayed the WRI Aqueduct map of water stress with CDP corporate water and city data, making it possible to analyze which cities and companies are aware or unaware of being at high-water risk and where there might be opportunities for collaboration and collective action on water security.
Renewable Energy Demand Projections: Renewable energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the U.S., but currently just over 10% of U.S. electricity comes from renewable sources. CDP’s company and city data provides a window into the demand side of renewable energy, both today and in the future. To help green the electric grid more quickly, we need to match renewable energy supply with demand signals in a given metropolitan area or electric utility’s service area.
- One winning team proposed four concrete suggestions for how Portland can reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 by utilizing CDP and other external data, such as population and GDP.
- Another winning team explored opportunities for Houston to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 given the supply and demand for wind and solar energy from the large number of corporations headquartered in the Houston area.
On behalf of CDP, thank you to all participants for your ideas and efforts, and congratulations to all of the winners!
To meet the global challenge of climate change and environmental destruction, the sustainability community must work collaboratively with the data science world. We look forward to seeing what innovative solutions come out of the rest of the data competition series this year.