Düsseldorf Plant trees, build solar systems, finance efficient cooking stoves: with the “Climate” app, users should be able to fight against climate change. One download, a few clicks, a little money and consumers are already supporting tree planting in Tanzania, which is supposed to protect the planet.
“There is no one in the world who is not personally affected by the climate crisis,” says Markus Gilles, CEO and co-founder of Klima. “We want to make personal actions measurable and effective.“ The app has now raised ten million euros in growth capital. This is one of the highest sums ever for climate protection apps on the smartphone.
A new app has just been launched on the market, Emyze, which allows users to track their emissions. In addition, the Berlin-based non-profit organization Leaders for Climate Action launched an online tool for emission reduction. With this, people should be able to contact politicians or switch to an eco-provider when purchasing electricity.
The business database Crunchbase recently compiled a list of 27 climate software companies, which shows: the companies have collected a total of 1.3 billion dollars, 640 million of them – more than half – in the last year alone.
Apps such as Klima or Emyze hope to attract young people and climate-conscious people in particular as customers. At Klima, for example, you can answer questions about your everyday behavior after registering, such as how often you book flights or how you feed yourself.
The app calculates the average annual CO2 value, and customers can offset this with a monthly amount of money that goes to climate protection projects. Newly planted trees that bind CO2, solar systems for green electricity or modern cooking stoves so that people in some areas of the world do not cook with an open fire.
Offset one hundred percent of your own emissions with a few euros
With about six to twelve euros, users can offset 100 percent of their emissions. Of these, Klima uses 30 percent for its own growth: ten percent for administrative costs and returns, 20 percent for marketing. “We are a commercial start-up, because with the model we can generate the most impact for the climate,” says Gilles. To date, Klima has saved more than 70,000 tons of CO2, about 300 million kilometers driven in a gasoline engine.
Compensation projects in particular are highly controversial. For example, because of the case of the organization Plant for the Planet, which promised tree planting projects in Mexico. Research of the “Time” and the “star” showed that the projects were not implemented or the trees were flooded.
The start-up Tomorrow was also criticized by consumer protection. It promises to finance sustainable projects through sustainable bank accounts. Their actual sustainability could not be verified – the start-up rejected the criticism.
Projects supported by Klima are not comparable to Plant for the Planet, says Gilles. “For us, it is the case that we offer the bound amount of CO2 in a tree,” says the founder. “When the tree has reached a certain size, the Tüv goes to the project and measures how much CO2 is actually bound in the tree.“ In addition, only projects that meet international certification standards would be financed.
“Good for the conscience, but not the right start”
Jan Steckel from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin sees a problem in handing over responsibility for the climate to individuals. “This is good for our conscience, but not the right entry point for politics.“ The professor of climate and development economics says that it would be important to end subsidies for fuel or increase CO2 taxes. “It’s not about supporting climate protection projects with a few euros, but about making a structural change in society.“
The newly launched Emyze app wants to distance itself from project financing, says its founder and CEO Benjamin Gaertig. Previously, the app was called “Mother Nature” and offered emissions management and compensation.
Now there would only be a calculator for the personal annual budget of CO2 in the app and the possibility for users to enter their emissions and compare them with their own CO2 budget. “First and foremost, it should be about reducing emissions,” explains Gaertig. The founder therefore no longer wants to offer opportunities in the new app to finance projects that compensate for CO2 emissions with trees or solar systems.
“The good thing is that awareness is being created with these apps, people are starting to think about their actions,” says climate economist Steckel. Especially if they would pass on their findings to their networks or decision-makers.
Klima is now also launching a software offering for companies and their employees. “Companies that often already measure and reduce their operational emissions can now use Klima to address the personal emissions of their employees by using the app,” says Gilles.
Software applications that calculate CO2 emissions for companies are already growing faster. The French decarbonisation software Sweep collected 73 million dollars in April and the Berlin emissions software Plan A collected ten million euros in December.
In addition, the Berlin start-up Vaayu has just received almost eleven million dollars from investors in a seed financing round. The founder is the former head of sustainability at Zalando, Namrata Sandhu. She founded Vaayu specifically for the decarbonization of retail.
Her software focuses specifically on large companies in the textile industry or e-commerce, Sandhu says: “We focus on accurate calculation of emissions in this industry,” she says. “We automatically display current CO2 values to companies every day.“
As an investment, corporate software that offers concrete solutions for reducing emissions is more exciting, says Daria Saharova, co-founder and investor of the climate technology fund World Fund. “These are just bigger problems that need a more complex solution.“