Dare to think big and differently
Nov 2, 2020
Please introduce yourself and your startup CO2IN to our readers! I am the CEO of the Amper group, the Prague-based provider of services in the field of renewable energy which developed the CO2IN project. After graduating in economics and philosophy, I went straight into the energy business, eventually founding Amper Market in 2011. Today the Amper group consists of five subsidiaries focusing on certain elements of sustainable energy production, such as Amper Asset Management on financing renewables or Amper Meteo, specialized in weather forecasts for the energy sector. All of our individual businesses share the same goal, which is to enable cities, communities, businesses and individuals to effectively lower their carbon footprint and grant them access to the renewable energy market. In this respect, the CO2IN currency is a unique tool not just within our portfolio, but worldwide. It is the only virtual currency which is directly backed by a real economy value, namely the price of the European Union Emission Trading System (EU ETS) carbon credits. This means that by using CO2IN, one will participate in the EU emissions trade, helping to reduce the CO2 produced in the EU and thereby containing climate change. How did you get the idea of CO2IN? I was running my first currency as central banker when I was 8 years old and playing with older boys in the backyard. Our company has ten years of experience in electricity, gas, carbon permits and green certificates trading. The last two years we were working in the field of carbon offsets and I learned that all such projects are basically the same: somebody “prints” a currency or some vouchers and invests the money into planting trees or installing renewables. Instead of a quasi investment fund, I wanted to create a currency backed by real economy assets. Why did you decide to start with CO2IN? Everybody is committing to become carbon neutral in 2050, yet we still lack proper means to make this change actually happen. There are so many complicated and contradictory policies in place, businesses often rather greenwash their operations than attempting to make an actual difference… In my view, what we need is simple, market-based solutions, seamlessly integrated in both business and everyday life. What is the vision behind CO2IN? Emissions trade is indeed a quite effective way to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. However its effect does not unfold fast enough given the urgency of mitigating climate change. CO2IN is intended to accelerate the transition to a carbon free economy by enhancing the impact of the EU ETS emissions allowances system. By purchasing 100 CO2INs you acquired one EU ETS allowance which has been withdrawn from the emissions market. Consequently, a polluter somewhere in the EU has one allowance less available to keep his current level of CO2 production or, respectively, the price of allowances rises. In any case, the industry is motivated to make their operations greener. Equally important is the fact that for the first time ever, CO2IN opens up emissions trade for private persons, too, allowing you and me to effectively participate in climate protection. And, CO2IN may also contribute to fair market conditions and common environmental standards throughout the world, serving the same purpose as the “carbon border tax” the EU is currently considering. European importers will be able to oblige their non-EU business partners to pay the same price for CO2 production as an EU ETS subject would. In the same way, CO2IN can extend the effect of carbon trading within the EU market to smaller businesses which are not subject to EU ETS. All in all, CO2IN expands emissions trading as a form of climate protection far beyond what the EU ETS was designed for. How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome? The actual start of the project is yet ahead of us. The main challenge of course will be to make companies and individuals pay with CO2IN, making it a real currency and truly the new gold standard. We want to become more than just another carbon offset project for a few companies or municipalities. Who is your target audience? Basically everyone. Individuals who are aware of the climate change and its impact – maybe you travel a lot by plane and definitely buy goods produced from or by burning fossil fuel. By paying with CO2IN you can make up for it, limiting your carbon footprint in an easy and effective way. The exact same thing applies for companies. Especially in combination with energy savings and renewable energy, CO2IN allows your business to easily achieve carbon neutrality. And you may for instance distribute CO2INs to your employees as a form of company benefit, maybe to pay with CO2IN in the cafeteria or for sports activities. And finally, CO2IN is very suitable for cities or in fact any kind of public administration or community, too. Again, it’s about reducing carbon footprint and, in combination with planting trees, energy savings and renewables, CO2IN can make your community carbon neutral not by 2050, but today. You can just hoard CO2INs as a form of offsetting the CO2 produced in your city, but just as well actively use the currency in your municipal services operation. And why not for those related to the environment? Maybe you can offer your citizens to pay with CO2IN for municipal bikesharing, garbage disposal or alike by integrating the currency into the respective apps. What is the USP of your startup? CO2IN is the world’s first virtual currency directly backed by real assets, and at a fixed exchange rate, making carbon dioxide the new gold standard. Can you describe your typical workday? After bringing kids to the school I walk to the office with, of course, leaving no carbon footprint. In the morning I check on my other business assets in the fields of energy services and renewables. The afternoon I usually focus solely on CO2IN, which means a lot of brainstorming with the ICT guys, the legal and regulations team and the colleagues from Sales & Marketing. Where do you see yourself and your startup CO2IN in five years? I still want to be creating business opportunities as an open-end process and maintain the highest possible degree of independence. Maybe I won’t limit my business activities to the energy sector, after all, CO2IN is already half a step in a different direction. The CO2IN currency shall work on the EU level in five years, or be forgotten
What 3 tips would you give to founders? Dare to think big and differently. Don’t give in to doubts and fear of failing. And most importantly, hang on no matter what! More information you will find here
Thank you for Jan Palaščák the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.