Hi Ruth, tell us about ForTomorrow, what was your motivation for founding it?
There was this moment in school when I was 12 or 13. We were discussing climate change. Immediately I thought: “How weird, that we are consciously damaging our earth.” I went straight home and told my dad: “Hey, we need to turn off our gas heating right now, climate change is coming.” Later I studied physics and realized coal-fired power plants are one of the main emitters of CO2 and therefore a central driver of climate change. So, how do you fight against coal power? By using renewable energies.
I started to work at Statkraft in Norway, the largest producer of renewable energies and dived deeper into the EU emissions trading system. Using renewable energy is great. But if we really want to reduce the amount of CO2 all big European polluters are emitting, we have to use the EU emissions trading system.
I founded ForTomorrow to make it possible for everyone to take away the rights of 11,000 companies to emit CO2, including coal-fired power plants.
On a personal level, I want to put my work where I have the biggest impact to stop the climate crisis. With ForTomorrow I can apply my knowledge and enable everyone to force the big European CO2 emitters to reduce their CO2 emissions and accelerate a climate friendly economy.
Can you explain how offsetting emissions actually works?
With ForTomorrow you can offset CO2 in two different ways that complement each other. One way is to plant trees in Germany. Here you can take the CO2 that already exists out of the air.
The other way is to prevent the industry in the EU from emitting CO2 – for example coal-fired power plants. For this we use the EU emissions trading system. We buy emission rights and remove them from the market. The industry in the EU then is forced to reduce the amount of CO2 that can be emitted.
In both cases, your CO2 emissions are neutralised through our offsetting. Via our website, you can purchase your own monthly subscription that offsets emissions and effectively ensures that you live carbon neutral.
What has been ForTomorrow’s social/environmental impact to date? What projects are you currently working on?
Together with our community, we have already offset a total of 11,100 tonnes of CO2. We're ensuring that 22,533 new trees grow in Germany and we have removed 6,737 emission rights (EUAs) from the market, preventing the emission of 6,737 tonnes of CO2.
What is especially inspiring: some people from our community additionally started changing their lifestyles. One woman picked a sustainable gas supplier after reading our monthly impact report.
As a founder, what have been some of your greatest personal challenges?
To maintain my work-life balance. I love my work. In the beginning, it happened that I worked so much that I got migraines. Now I take more time to rest because it is also more efficient for my work in the end. It really is important to realise the value of breaks.
What’s it like juggling motherhood and running a business?
My children are a constant motivation. I see them and just want to do everything I can to make sure they experience a healthy planet when they are my age. My partner is wonderful and we share the parenting duties equally. Children are great because they require our full attention. So you really have to take breaks from work, which is good. And they change the way you look at things. With your children you can get totally excited about a little bug running around in the grass, that changes the perspective.
What advice would you give others who find themselves in a similar situation?
Enjoy your work, but also enjoy the time with your family. Don’t try to do both at once, that leads to frustration. And make sure you also plan some time for yourself.
When it comes to living a carbon neutral existence, what are three biggest things that every person can do in their daily lives?
You can start by eating more regionally and less meat – ideally your diet is vegan. You can switch to public transport. Cycling or walking is even better, of course. In the end, there will always be a small CO2 footprint that you can't get rid of. You can offset the rest with us. And don't forget: talk about your experiences, inspire others!