Northern Ontario teen creates climate change information app

A 15-year-old from Espanola, Ont., designed his first app, and it helps users better understand the impacts of climate change.

App will show a person's carbon footprint and describe the impacts of climate change

A smiling teenage boy wearing glasses.
Punya Syon Pandey learned to code when he was seven years old. Now the 15-year-old from Espanola has designed his first app. (Submitted by Punya Syon Pandey)

A teenager from Espanola, Ont., designed his first app, and it helps users better understand the impacts of climate change.

Punya Syon Pandey, 15, learned to code when he was seven years old and started by designing websites. His mom is a computer engineer, and helped him along the way.

Syon Pandey later discovered a new interest: environmentalism.

"I got a wakeup call, actually, reading an article where it said that we only had about 11 or 12 years until we could actually do something to improve the climate change situation," he said.

He decided to combine his two interests and created the Versa Terra app for both the Android and iOS platforms.

Syon Pandey said the app has five different slides, which he calls elements.

One slide will allow a user to estimate their personal carbon footprint and compare it to the averages in different countries.

"And there is a part where you can learn about the effects of climate change," Syon Pandey said.

A close-up of a phone in a person's hand with a green app open.
The Versa Terra app is available on the Android and iOS platforms. It allows a person to measure their carbon footprint and learn about the impacts of climate change. (Jonathan Migneault/CBC)

In its latest report, which was released in April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said limiting global warming to 1.5 C is beyond reach.

"We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming," said IPCC chair Hoesung Lee in a press release. 

"I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation."

For his part, Syon Pandey said he hopes his app will serve as the same type of wakeup call as the article he read warning of the small window left to act on climate change.

"It's not just oil and gas that's affecting the climate," he said. "It's also their individual action, whether they're choosing to opt for a certain type of food… and whether they can actually transition to different types of fuel."

With files from Bridget Yard


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