This is Ilaria Graceffa calling, a sustainability consultant at Cambre. I am here to bring some sustainability spark into the magic world of tech. Last year I connected chemicals and tech . . . this time I will talk about COP26! You probably waited your whole life to see the link between tech and COP26. Well, wait no more as I am here to help you see it.

As you probably know, from 31 October until 12 November, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties – better known as COP26 – will take place in Glasgow, where world leaders will meet to discuss tackling climate change.

Now, let’s get straight to the point, a.k.a climate change & tech. There is little doubt that technology plays a key role in combatting climate change. It is precisely for this reason that the “Tech for our planet” campaign was launched last year. The initiative consists of a programme of five challenges for start-ups to create technology that will help reach net-zero targets. So that we don’t feel guilty when we go on that trip to Tenerife or eat a nice steak.

Ten start-ups were selected to showcase and pitch their solutions during COP26. The aim is to explore how digital and data solutions can make a major and essential contribution to the global climate effort. For the curious ones, I have a sneak peek! Projects will include listening to the sound of insects, reducing food waste and CO2 emissions from your smartphone; and watching what climate change is doing to the earth from your laptop.

Unfortunately, I don’t have permission from Alok Sharma to give you more juice ;), so if you want to know more, you will have to stay tuned into COP26!

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#TechAways is brought to you by Derya Fikret, Ilaria Graceffa,  Jarek Oleszczynski and Kristin Tsenkova

Aargh climate change 😱🥶 [Cambre]

Have you ever heard of ESG? No? Well, ESG stands for ‘Environment, Social, Governance and is a criterion used by companies to evaluate their impact on social and environmental factors. To celebrate all the value that ESG can bring, SEC Newgate ran a poll across 3 continents, surveying 10 000 people on ESG issues. This included individuals from France, Italy and Germany. And guess what? According to our lovely European neighbours, climate change is the biggest ESG issue: 23% of our fellow Europeans are concerned about climate, with 48% stating that ESG issues affect their decisions! No wonder companies are looking into ESG.

Wall e-waste 🤖 [Computer Weekly]

When it comes to tech and climate change, we tend to think about how tech can help in the fight for a greener future. We don’t really focus on how the tech industry is complicating it. Let’s leave AI, CO2 reduction apps and all that stuff behind and try to remember the opening scene from the infamous Wall-E, where the cute robot is working hard to clean all the e-waste left behind by humans. Unfortunately, this is slowly becoming a reality. A research study by Microsoft and Goldsmiths University of London shows that three-quarters of tech companies do not practice what they preach on sustainability, including e-waste build up. After all, as we all know, producing durable tech products would mean a decrease in 💰 turnover…

Ocean Cleanup at a cost 🌊 [Gizmodo]

The famous idea of Boyan Slat to collect plastic trash from the ocean using a contraption has recently achieved a pivotal milestone. Though revolutionary, the first prototypes of the project were rarely supported by scientists, and therefore suffered several failures. Using its latest setup, called System 002, the Ocean Cleanup collected a large amount of trash, but at a significant cost. To collect all the trash, the system required being pulled by Maersk ships. As you can imagine, this led to a hefty carbon footprint. Additionally, many scientists have voiced their concerns regarding how the contraption affects and disturbs the organisms living on the surface of the ocean. Therefore, while this idea may have been born with good intent, there are serious consequences that must be considered in its development.

AI and breast cancer innovation 🎗️ [TechCrunch] 

October has been dedicated to raising awareness of one of the most prevalent cancers in the world. As cancer rates are increasing in our society, some scientists argue that climate change is a contributing factor to this rise.  Contributing factors vary from environmental exposures to ultraviolet radiation, air pollution, disruptions in the food and water supply, environmental toxicants and so on and so forth. While the medical field has benefited from rapid innovation, breast cancer is a condition that is often overshadowed by stigma. The future is however looking a bit brighter with the increased use of AI. Through a novel form of AI, called federated learning, researchers will now be able to obtain access to essential information from different institutions, without violating the patients’ data privacy. AI will also be used to predict whether patients are at high risk of relapse and to analyse the resistance of aggressive forms of breast cancer relating to certain drugs.

About this week’s editor,  

I am a consultant at Cambre since 2019, advising clients on EU policy for circular economy and chemicals. I work with textiles, electronics, toys, and packaging … a lot of cool stuff! My colleagues make fun of my accent and hand gesture (guess my nationality!). My nickname is “partylaria” due to my love for the dance floor and good cocktails. But hey, I drink detox tea during the week 😉 I love travelling and I constantly plan where to go next (pandemic allowing!), so if you have any cool suggestions for a trip reach out to me!

In case you haven’t had enough 

The mission to break barriers to space travel for people with disabilities  [The Verge]

Tiny Crab Trapped in Amber Is a 100-Million-Year-Old Stunner [Gizmodo]

Speechmatics pushes forward recognition of accented English [TechCrunch]

Analogue’s Pocket will have an extremely fancy OS to save games to and from cartridges [The Verge]

All the Fast Food You Love Contains Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals, Study Finds [Gizmodo]