Future of Sustainability: Offsetting the Path to Net Zero

EVENT BACKGROUND

On December 9, 2021, Deutsche Telekom, in partnership with Runway Innovation Hub, hosted an innovation roundtable discussion on the “Future of Sustainability: Offsetting the Path to Net Zero”.

The objective of this forum was to gather industry experts, investors, startups, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) experts to assess carbon footprint impact, from a corporate perspective, and develop CSR and climate strategies through collaboration and creative insights. While all industries rely on innovation, corporate climate strategy must keep pace with the carbon impact of these developments.

The high-level group we convened included decision-makers and stakeholders across industries to address innovation, the investment therein, as well as the CSR strategies needed to secure our environmental future.

OPENING REMARKS

Sustainability has grown to become a very strategic pillar of Deutsche Telekom. Our approach is driven by our CEO’s prioritization of sustainability as part of our company strategy, providing valuable executive support for our related activities. Deutsche Telekom has very ambitious sustainability goals. We aim to reach net-zero for scope one and scope two carbon emissions by 2025. We want to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, which is a really steep hill to climb for all of us. We appreciate that we have such diverse thought leadership participating in this forum because we have to do this together. A Deutsche Telekom mantra is to win and innovate together, with partners. So let’s learn from each other today in this forum and identify new opportunities to partner and apply innovation in ways that help save our planet.

Hosts:

  1. Antje-Susan Metz, Lead Innovation Scout, Group Partnering & Devices (Sustainability), Deutsche Telekom
  2. Lennart Biernath, International Communications Lead, Group Partnering & Devices

TAKEAWAYS AND SUMMARY

This forum provided diverse perspectives on important aspects of carbon offsetting. Key takeaways from the forum discussion include:

● We don’t have a standardized language to talk about carbon offsetting. Most organizations don’t know the current carbon emissions impact of their operations. We need to set targets to make progress.

● We need data and standardization of standards.

● Transparent and credible validations of carbon emission reductions are critical.

● There is a significant need to connect the right capital to promising sustainability solutions. This can happen through both large-scale projects — and by replication of smaller projects. Organizations/people willing to finance smaller projects are essential.

● For startups developing solutions for carbon emission, it was suggested to take a ”blended capital” approach to fund your startup. This can include applying for grants in the earliest stages when there is much to validate and de-risk. These grants could be from non-profit organizations or government agencies. Other examples are the regional resilience programs (at the state level) that provide low-interest loans — and which can be replicated. Using grant funds, which are often non-dilutive capital, to de-risk your venture will give you the ability to later attract investors from venture capital firms, corporate investment groups, and banks.

● The social justice aspects of carbon emissions reduction solutions must be considered. We need to remove carbon in a way that promotes fairness and equality.

● A global market for carbon offsetting is emerging. EU countries now have a legally binding net-zero goal, so they’ll have to invest (in carbon offsetting solutions). Ultimately, carbon offsetting needs to become the largest industry on the planet or we won’t achieve the necessary and vital sustainability goals, (see United Nations World Congress, Paris Climate Accord).

● It is important to feature examples of companies (big and small) to show that it is possible to be successful in bringing a sustainability solution to market. You can do good and make money at the same time.

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