HotPopRobot participated in the Climate Hackathon (#Climathon) organised by Climate-KIC on October 28-29, 2016 in Toronto. #Climathon brought together teams in 59 cities to work on most pressing climate challenges faced by their cities.

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For Toronto, the challenge was to (1) reduce emissions from the Transportation Sector by 5% and (2) do so in a cost-neutral way. This is a huge challenge as transport sector produces over 8 Million Tonnes of Green House Gas emissions (35% of total emissions) in Toronto.

climatechack6.jpgBut our team did not find it challenging enough and added 2 additional goals – the solution should be acceptable inter-generationally (to give voice to future generations) and be eco-centric (benefit the whole ecosystem including birds, animals, reptiles and not just humans).

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Explaining our solution to Glen Murray Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario, Canada

Our solution “Fix the Six” (Toronto is often popularly referred to as Six) proposes 300% tree intensification at street level and in open areas with native tree species. We used Open Data including Street Tree Map and Toronto Traffic Patterns, and supplemented it with primary data – counting number of trees on popular streets and taking readings from our home built Pollution Sensor to calculate emission levels and how much carbon is being sequestered by the trees on the streets.

climatechack5We found out that the tree population in Toronto (10.2 million trees) are able to remove over 90% of particulate matters (from automobile emissions) and sequester over 36,000 tonnes of carbon each year. We also found out that some of the main streets, for instance King Street and Queen Street in downtown Toronto have widely different street tree densities. It would be possible to increase tree density on King Street by 90% to bring it at the same levels of Queen Street – with huge climate emissions reduction benefits.

The choice of species for tree planting matters. Some of the native tree species of Toronto such as Sugar Maple have very high rates of carbon  sequestration and a fully grown tree

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Collecting Pollution Data on King Street, Toronto

and can sequester over 80kgs of carbon each year. And each tree yields $7.95 of immediate economic benefits to Toronto and the benefit cost ratio is $1.35 – $3.20 making the entire project economically feasible. And there is abundant space in Toronto to plant more trees – starting at the street levels to tree intensification in open spaces.

These native trees would fight against invasive species and provide habitat to endangered species including  Blanding turtles, barn swallows, rusty patched bumblebees, Fowler’s frog,  Jefferson salamander and many others. (Thank you to the  Rouge Park – Nature Walks for telling us so much about the at-risk species). Furthermore this solution would not impose hardships on future generations and would bequeath them a greener, healthier and more bio-diverse environment.

Download the presentation and solution from here.

Media 1: Toronto Climathon results in surprising solutions to transport emissions

Media 2: Torontonians Propose Surprising Hacks to Reduce Transport Emissions

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