Climate tech: evaluation of technology in climate action with a lens of materiality and data justice

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in New Media
87 + 5
This thesis examines the ongoing climate crisis and the role technology plays in approaching the crisis. It first establishes a clear definition of the climate crisis and related terminology, provides evidence, highlights how grave the situation is, and what would be further repercussions if no major action is taken. Next, the thesis evaluates existing climate action work and its high reliance on technology as the main tool in the process. Technology and its dependence have been growing exponentially each year. The thesis points out some major problems and challenges with such dependence on technology- its material and emission cost, lack of equal access, extractive business models, and more such issues. The thesis offers ways to account for these problems through alternative solutions, institutional shifts, and guidelines and insights for the usage of technology in climate action projects. The research involves understanding existing literature and following closely ongoing work and projects. And entails practice-led research through the author’s work and projects with a climate action organisation called Dark Matter Laboratories. The thesis zooms into two main climate tech methods- monitoring and financing. Establishing what both methods are, reason of choice, problems, gaps, and possible solutions for improving them. The thesis focuses on two of the author's project work in the EU- Nature-based Solutions(NbS) and Retrofit. NbS focuses on the maintenance of urban city forests and the investment and monitoring systems needed to sustain the infrastructure. Retrofit project analyses the need for continuous maintenance of homes and residential areas to curb their high emissions. Both projects are centred around the use of technology and data, the thesis analyses how these projects tackle technology’s embedded challenges. Some of the alternate solutions being- forming a material registry, open shared standards, transparency, and community building. The projects are still in progress and evolving slowly. In conclusion, the thesis offers guidelines that can be used by anyone working on climate action through technology. The guidelines give a checklist and evaluation framework for before, during, and after states of a project to clearly understand the role of technology and addressing possible issues. The guidelines mainly focus on the usage of low-tech solutions, forming data trusts, embedding indigenous protocols in technology, and lastly the need for an institutional and society shift concerning technology.
Leinonen, Teemu
Thesis advisor
Bhowmik, Samir
climate crisis, climate tech, materiality, data justice, nature based solutions, climate action, retrofit
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