Climate Action Intern – Aidan Homewood

Aidan has been a key player in creating our carbon footprint calculator at Negative. He’s a strong advocate for corporate accountability within the climate space, studying a degree in Mathematics and Economics at Te Herenga Waka (Victoria University of Wellington). His love for the environment grew through his passion for gardening and spending time outdoors. Read more about his take on climate change below.

I’m very concerned about climate change and its potential effects. Aotearoa has a huge range of unique species and environments, which means we have a lot to lose. Higher energy storms have already started to displace and kill people. Despite protecting the Pacific Islands in other areas, Aotearoa has failed to take any significant action to reduce emissions. We have failed ourselves, our neighbours and the world. Lobbying the government to do more about climate change is slow, now is the time for widespread personal action.

The Climate Action Virtual Internship was offered to students at my university: I saw it and thought it would be a great opportunity to learn about how business and climate action can be conducive, which turned out to be true. I’ve enjoyed learning about the gears that turn a start-up as well as how to be a climate consultant for a business.

My role within Negative is important as footprint calculation shows people how abnormal their impact is. It’s also important that people can see that their footprint reduces when they take action. Calculating carbon footprint is very difficult. The first problem is that while we have data on the per capita emissions of every country, those can’t really be applied at the individual level. Emissions created when I buy a phone made in China shouldn’t count toward the emissions of the average person in China, because I created that demand. The second problem is finding out how to figure out information about a person based on just a few questions: like their income, their age, and their country. We try to collect a minimal amount of data from people, meaning a variable like income alone needs to tell us about a user’s overall consumption habits. I’m currently working on applying machine learning to this problem.

I’d like to see business play more of a role in the climate space. It’s obvious businesses have a massive role in emissions, but somehow less obvious to people that businesses therefore have a massive opportunity to reduce their emissions. In the next 5-10 years, I’d like to see carbon being priced correctly by governments. This means that if a business wants to open a new factory, they have to consider the ongoing cost of offsetting all the emissions that come from it. This would make sure that businesses take into account the impacts of their decisions on the environment. If implemented worldwide, carbon emissions would go down, and any residual emissions would be 100% offset. I’d also like to see richer countries finance the clean-energy infrastructure projects of developing countries. Actions like these don’t just help carbon emissions, but reduce global inequality too!

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