“The MPIA’s astronomy-related GHG emissions per researcher in 2018 were alarmingly around three times higher than the German target for 2030 […]. Moreover, the per-researcher emissions are ~60% higher than those of the average German resident, whose annual 2018 GHG emissions (by consumption) were 11.6 tCO2e […]. Of course, these numbers just compare the work-related contributions […], neglecting the additional emissions associated with non-research-related ‘private’ emissions […].”Jahnke et al. (2020)
Pledge4Future was founded as a reaction to scientific evidence on the above-average carbon footprint of researchers, as shown by, e.g. Jahnke et al. (2020). It is a non-profit project including an open-source Web App for research groups to collaboratively
- and reduce their CO2e emissions.1
In addition to individual and working group profiles, it presents the anonymised average values per discipline compared to the per capita values that would be necessary to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. Pledge4Future aims to establish itself as a standard tool for achieving climate-friendly research. The goal is to provide individuals and work groups with a simple tool for the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions towards compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. The calculation includes heating, electricity, business travel and commuting. It helps to identify necessary reductions of CO2e emissions and to take appropriate reduction measures, such as building restorations or the installation of photovoltaic cells.
Current State & Next Steps
The methodology to compute the CO2e emissions of electricity, heating, commuting and business travel has already been developed and will be transparently communicated on https://pledge4future.org. The development of the front- and back-end of the website is ongoing, as well as networking activities with German and European sustainability networks of research institutes.
We will launch the beta version of the app in summer 2021 to collect feedback and to further adapt it to the needs of specific research fields. If you, your working group or your institute are interested in becoming a beta-tester of the app, contact us via or using the contact form on www.pledge4future.org.
Wanted: Front-end Web Developer
Pledge4Future is still looking for support regarding the development of the website (link to pdf of task description). If you are interested, contact us via and we will be happy to welcome you in our group.
Pledge4Future is a team of 7 web-developers, researchers and students from the fields of geography, geoinformatics and chemistry. In autumn 2020, we formed a workplace-related sustainability group at the Institute of Geography of Heidelberg University and developed the idea to not only measure and reduce the CO2e emissions of our own research, but to develop an app that facilitates climate protection across research groups and fields.
Pledge4Future – Winner of the “The Climate Challenge” Hackathon
Pledge4Future is the winning team of the “The Climate Challenge Hackathon”, which was organized by Scientists4Future Heidelberg and the Goethe Institute in autumn 2020. The goal of this event was the development of ideas and projects to tackle the climate crisis. An external panel composed of experts selected the 4 winning teams, which were then awarded with € 3.000 as a funding incentive to further establish the idea. In addition to that, the winners were given the opportunity to work for 8 months on their respective projects. After this period, Pledge4Future got awarded with further € 5.000.
- Since different greenhouse gases contribute differently to global warming, the impact of different greenhouse gases is converted to the equivalent impact that carbon dioxide molecules would have (CO2e) (Moss et al. 2000, Gohar & Shine 2007).
Gohar, L. K. & Shine, K. P. (2007). Equivalent CO2 and its use in understanding the climate
effects of increased greenhouse gas concentrations. Weather, 62: 307-311.
Jahnke, K., Fendt, C., Fouesneau, M. et al. (2020). An astronomical institute’s perspective on
meeting the challenges of the climate crisis. Nat Astron 4, 812–815 (2020).
Moss, A. R., Jouany, J. P. & Newbold, J. (2000). Methane production by ruminants: its
contribution to global warming. In Annales de zootechnie (Vol. 49, No. 3,
pp. 231-253). EDP Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1051/animres:2000119