YURI is a space startup that enables scientific research in microgravity – on the ISS, SpaceX rockets or parabolic flights. The carbon emissions generated during all their operations, especially during the rocket launches and scientific flights, were analysed and offset with Planetly’s solutions.
YURI brings scientific value to a broader science audience. Its co-founders Maria, Chriss, Philipp and Mark were crystal clear that their mission should not conflict with ecological sustainability. Hence, becoming a carbon neutral company was a major priority for them.
Planetly offers solutions to enable companies to make their carbon footprint manageable. With Planetly’s Climate Impact Manager, customers can understand, reduce and offset their carbon emissions – based on real data and in real time.
YURI analysed, reduced and offset carbon emissions since start of their operations. They intend to internalise climate action into their corporate strategy going forward to become pioneers in their industry.
We measure carbon footprints in amount of CO2e. The unit CO2e stands for carbon dioxide “equivalent”. So why not simply carbon dioxide? By equivalent we mean to include also emissions from other greenhouse gases, which can occur in many different shapes.
In YURI's case, other emissions are for example black carbon or emissions from radiative forcing. Black what? Radiative who? Easy, we got you covered: black carbon simply means soot and radiative forcing is the stronger impact of emissions in high altitudes. They occur during rocket launches. We calculated their effect on climate in CO2-equivalents, to make them comparable and summable.
Eventually, we concluded that each experiment conducted on a parabolic flight is 16.6 tonnes CO2e on average. For experiments departing for the International Space Station it’s approximately 1.4 tonnes CO2e per kg weight. Wow!
Well, the biggest concern we were facing was the massive exhaust emissions caused by the rockets and parabolic flights. Proportionally, they make up a huge portion of our services. On top came our business travels, which made up the biggest chunk by far. We figured to calculate them based on fuel consumption.
Secondly, we were focussing on our energy consumption. Due to the fact that we chose a green electricity provider from early on, we were able to significantly reduce our emissions here already. However, our heating remained a high emission output factor.
Further, we included our daily commuting, office supplies, consumables such as food and beverages, as well as our waste, which we are separating anyway.
The result of Planetly’s analysis is the total of YURI’s operational emissions from the year of YURI's start and extrapolated for the year 2020. This is the complete amount of CO2e caused by providing our services to our clients, before we bring this figure down to zero through climate compensation. It’s important to note that we did our calculations very conservatively. That means we were always assuming highest emissions and also multiplied the emissions from parabolic flights and rocket launches by factor three. By doing so, we wanted to make sure to take all those emissions into serious account. We want to share our numbers with the world, to bring climate action into space and the industry. Knowing our footprint was a first small step for us but with our consecutive action a big step for becoming planet positive.
On the long run we want to reduce all the emissions from our operations. Therefore, we will set ourselves ambitious targets within our future company strategy.
To be honest, we cannot control a substantial part of the services that we provide. The rockets and flights we are using are leased from companies like SpaceX and Novespace. However, we are continuously in exchange with our business partners how to make potential reductions happen.
More important is that our business travels contribute the biggest part of our emissions. New travel policies in place will ensure that we can achieve major reductions here. Planetly will also support us on the way, by suggesting more appropriate reduction measurements in order to go beyond carbon neutrality.
Thanks to Planetly’s expertise and exposure we have been given a wide selection of potential offsetting projects. We discussed and eventually selected the projects that would become our offset portfolio. We deliberately wanted to focus our efforts in supporting one specific region and chose the Philippines. The country is one of the countries that is most affected by climate change. Also, our co-founder Mark was born there and still has strong ties.
The project we selected is a solar photovoltaic installation supporting local communities in their independence for electricity. By this we are contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 7, 8, 9 and 13.
Additionally, we support the project KTEP – which was founded by Mark’s parents in the Philippines. Among other projects such as education and job creation, KTEP builds water wells (so far >250) for local communities. One water well can support 500 locals with fresh water. Together with KTEP we are building one well per rocket launch, and thus, directly contributing to SDG number 6.