Fuel: Carbon Contributions


Question: How can individuals and corporations manage and reduce their carbon contributions?
Submit Solutions:
Rules: All entrants must agree to the Challenge Rules and Terms of Use
Deadline: Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 16:59:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Judging Criteria & Prizes: See below.


By 2050, the world must double its energy and food supply to meet demand generated in large part by a growing increasingly prosperous population. As demand for resources surpasses all historical precedent, there is a simultaneous need to balance increased production and consumption with the urgent steps necessary to monitor, manage, and mitigate climate change and its associated ecological and environmental risks.

Individuals and corporations are major contributors to the world’s carbon emissions. Agricultural production, forestry, transportation, industry and commercial goods production, and other systems-level processes are responsible for the majority of emissions - and their volume is often driven by consumer demand. As individuals, we have an opportunity to act by assessing the carbon emissions involved in every dimension of our daily lives, like what we eat, how we commute, and what we buy to how our companies produce, transport, and store their goods. Taken together, our individual decisions as consumers and producers can help manage the world’s emissions crisis. In addition to responding to consumer demand, corporations across all industries can manage their carbon emissions while both saving costs and driving revenue over the long-term by investing in climate-friendly technologies and processes.

This challenge is being run by MIT’s Solve in collaboration with MIT's Climate CoLab. These two initiatives are harnessing the world's collective intelligence to surface solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.  This challenge will be jointly listed on both CoLab platforms so members from both communities can seamlessly participate and collaborate.

Key Issues

What challenges do we face with existing tools, strategies, and approaches?

Carbon Removal Technologies
In 2016, the scientific community has yet to invent a breakthrough that would allow us to remove carbon from the atmosphere in a sustainable and cost-effective way. However, small-scale technological advances are continuously being developed and prototyped. Which of these can be further developed, tested and deployed to remove carbon at point or from the atmosphere?

Carbon Pricing Strategies
Creating one cohesive global marketplace for carbon pricing could have a transformative impact on reducing carbon emissions and the effects of climate change, and many global policy-makers are focused on intergovernmental efforts to introduce a global carbon price. However, this strategy has hit multiple political roadblocks. How can businesses and communities put a cost on carbon emissions, taking the lead and introduce ‘bottom-up’ carbon pricing that creates workable markets on a local scale that can then expand?  

Large-Scale Emission Reduction Approaches
The 2016 Paris Agreement, the recently adopted global climate compact, outlined a framework under which national governments would adopt and enforce legislation to reduce carbon emissions at the individual country level. Although this approach holds great promise to reduce emissions, it requires country-level compliance, focuses on emissions that a government can control, and still does not help us manage emissions that will still be released. How can individuals, communities, and businesses take the lead in large-scale solutions to measure and reduce their emissions?

So what now, and how can Solve help to best enable our world to manage this two-fold challenge?

The Solve community aims to help fill some of the acute gaps in thinking, implementation, and discovery which exist in the effort to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. To help jumpstart additive solutions to manage our global emissions crisis, the SOLVE community will seek to generate and implement solutions to:

  • Generate, test and deploy carbon removal technologies that could be deployed by individuals and/or corporations, at point or at scale.
  • Suggest implementable ‘bottom-up’ carbon pricing approaches for communities and businesses.
  • Propose large-scale individual-level and business-level solutions to significantly reduce emissions.

NOTE: Solutions which address only one or several of these areas are welcome.

Judging Criteria

Solve judges will consider a few key dimensions as the evaluate a heterogeneous group of proposals submitted for each challenge. In addition to the criteria outlined below, judges will evaluate how proposals are uniquely appropriate for the Solve community by considering how they integrate technology, rely on cross-sector partnerships, and/or utilize the MIT community.

Judges will evaluate each proposal for their innovation, discovery, and originality to prioritize the most additive solutions, rather than rewarding traditional thinking or encyclopedic knowledge.

1 - Concept exists - no unique application
2 - Concept partially exists - some unique application
3 - Concept partially exists - unusual or imaginative application
4 - Entirely novel concept - challenges existing paradigm

Judges will evaluate each proposal’s economic, social,  political, legal, and technical feasibility to ensure winning solutions are implementable.

1 - Infeasible economically, socially, politically, legally, or technically; Potential concerns and barriers not addressed
2 - Questionably feasible economically, socially, politically, legally, or technically; Potential concerns and barriers insufficiently addressed
3 - Likely feasible economically, socially, politically, legally, and technically; Potential concerns and barriers partially addressed
4 - Feasible economically, socially, politically, legally, or technically; Potential concerns and barriers fully addressed

Judges will evaluate each proposal’s projected impact to identify which solution best meets the stated goals and objectives of each challenge. For example, for Learn challenges, impact may be evaluated based on the projected number of children reading at grade level. NOTE: Proposals should clearly define both their projected impact and their monitoring and evaluation metrics.

1 - Impact and benefits unclear
2 - Limited benefits; minimal impact
3 - Modest benefits; moderate impact
4 - Large-scale benefits; high-impact  

Judges will evaluate the quality of presentations, including the quality of writing, use of graphics and visual elements, and any inclusion of compelling artistic representations. Proposals that are well-presented will be favored.

1 - Unclear; lacks persuasiveness and visual appeal
2 - Somewhat clear, persuasive, and visually appealing
3 - Clear, persuasive, and visually appealing
4 - Highest-quality; very clear, persuasive, and visually appealing 


Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 16:59:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

Deadline for Submission

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 16:59:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

What happens if your solution is selected?

After the judges’ evaluation, selected solutions will be invited to pitch at Solve at United Nations on March 7, 2017. Live in front of judges, the selected participants will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a live audience composed of cross-sector leaders. The best solutions will be selected as Solvers and will receive support from the Solve community and be invited to and featured prominently at Solve at MIT in May 2017.

Solver Support - March – May 2017
Dedicated Solve staff will work with Solvers to:

  • Provide mentorship and training opportunities
  • Refine Solvers’ pitches and action plans
  • Make introductions to Solve community members and broker partnerships with Solve community members to fund, pilot and implement Solvers’s solutions.

Solvers at Solve at MIT - May 2017
Solve at MIT is the annual flagship 300+ person event for Solve, bringing together the Solvers and leaders from the private, public, non-profit and academic sectors. Solvers will present their solutions and announce partnerships and other progress since their initial pitch to Solve at MIT participants.

Solvers and their solutions will be featured on stage, in online and written materials, and through dedicated challenge workshops. Further, Solve staff will continue supporting Solvers on-site through brokered introductions. The objective remains to attract partnerships with other Solve community members that make Solvers’s solutions a reality.