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Zoya Misha
September 18, 2023

People in beta #11: ForTomorrow - Pioneering a Climate-Neutral EU by 2040

We’re proud to be featuring two members of betahaus with an exceptional mission: CEO & founder Ruth von Heusinger and marketing & comms lead Christopher Schulz who are - together with their team - at the forefront to combat climate change through their Berlin based nonprofit organization ForTomorrow. They are striving to make the European Union climate neutral before 2040 by leveraging the EU emissions trading system and reforestation efforts.

In this interview, we will explore the rewarding aspects of running ForTomorrow and the challenges they encounter along the way. Ruth and Chris will share insights into their successful CO2 reduction projects, their open dialogue with the industry, the impact of winning the Planet Hero Award and their optimism for a climate-neutral EU future.

Enjoy this inspiring conversation with these passionate changemakers who are shaping a sustainable, climate positive future for us all.

Chris & Ruth working in one of the betahaus meeting rooms

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of running ForTomorrow, and what do you find most challenging about this work?

Ruth: There are many rewarding aspects to our work. It's great to see how much CO2 emissions we have already prevented and how the EU industry transforms. I’m very grateful that we are accelerating this necessary transition.

When we visit our reforestation areas, it's great to see the little trees growing, which we have planted with our hands. But of course it is the contact with people that motivates us in the long run. It is always a great moment when supporters tell us that they have found an access to climate protection thanks to us.

Chris: A challenging part of the job is to remain resilient and patient. We know for sure that we need to act quickly to still prevent the worst consequences of human-caused climate change. At the same time, we also know that a change in business and mindset takes time. You can't get everyone to act overnight.

To stay motivated in the long run, it is very helpful to cultivate a stoic attitude and regularly remind yourself of your goals. 

Can you give us an idea of some projects where ForTomorrow has successfully reduced CO2 through emission rights? What was the impact?

Ruth: Together with our supporters we already have been able to offset more than 21,000 tons of CO2. That is as much CO2 as 1,050 flights from Berlin to Sydney would produce! We are offsetting this amount of emissions by cancelling 12,000 EU emission rights and planting more than 42,000 trees in Germany. 

Chris: Importantly, we are also accelerating the energy transition to a more sustainable economy through our activities. Every emission right we buy away & cancel from the industry corresponds to one ton of CO2 less in Europe. As a private person you normally have little influence on the big economy, we would like to open up this possibility of influence for everyone.

the ForTomorrow team planting trees together

Do you face any pressure from the coal-fired power plant industry?

Ruth: We are striving for an open dialog with the industry. After all, we're all in the same boat; the climate crisis affects us all. We are trying to get as many people, companies and organizations on board now as possible.

With ForTomorrow we are changing the system so that it benefits us all in the long run. 

Of course, buying away emission rights from the industry will result in a higher price for CO2. For companies this creates an incentive to produce in a climate-friendly way. For example, steel can be produced „grey“ (with lots of emissions) or „green“. The technology is already there. But we need a high CO2 price to make it profitable for the steel industry to produce in a „green“ way. In this way, we are creating an innovative European economy that is well positioned to meet the challenges of the future.

In 2050, the system is expected to make the EU CO2-neutral. Are you optimistic about this prediction?

Ruth: Yes! The EU emissions trading demonstrably reduces CO2 emissions. The system has been active since 2005 and has already halved CO2 emissions at power plants, industrial companies and flights. The system works great, but unfortunately too slowly. It is planned that the EU emissions trading system will make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. That would be far too late to limit the consequences of human-caused climate change. We are doing everything in our power to lead Europe to climate neutrality as quickly as possible. 

You won the Planet Hero Award in 2022. Why was winning this award so important for you?

Chris: Winning the Planet Hero Award was a game changer for us in so many ways. With the award we got access to a generous funding that helps us to build a strong and diverse team. We are especially happy that our project received more attention thanks to the award show. Last but not least, thanks to the event, we were able to establish contacts with like-minded people, start-ups and organizations that also participated in this competition.

Ruth: Winning the Planet Hero Award was special because it made visible in a single moment the countless hours we put into the idea and the company. It is still a huge motivational boost and stands as a milestone for the great things we already achieved.

Ruth von Heusinger with Fortomorrow's planethero Award 2022

What made you decide on choosing betahaus as the headquarters of ForTomorrow?

Ruth: betahaus is an amazing place in so many ways. We love the infrastructure it offers. Perfectly tailored to the size of your business, you'll find the right office space at betahaus. You can book individual spaces, desks, or even entire rooms. This way, you can grow as a company and still stay in the same building. We also have all the other things we need as a company, such as meeting rooms, telephone cells or catering facilities, here in one place. 

Chris: And betahaus is not only a coworking space, but also a community. You can participate in various events and be inspired by keynotes from other founders or companies, for example at the betabreakfast. If you want to network after work, you can have a drink on the rooftop terrace. However, you are not forced to participate in these activities; you can decide for yourself what fits into your schedule.

''People in beta’’ is a series of blog posts where we interview our teams and members to understand who they are, what they’re most passionate about, and what brought them to coworking.

Interested in joining the beta family? Check out our membership options here.