1 topic, 2 key figures, 3 startups to draw inspiration from
Since the Paris agreement five years ago, most of the 196 signatories have taken steps to limit global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The EU has set a carbon neutrality goal by 2050 and a 55% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. Corporations across all industries are also taking action to reduce their carbon impact: from Danone’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, to Carrefour’s 40% decrease in CO2 emissions by 2025 and 70% reduction by 2050 compared to 2010, to Microsoft’s goal to be carbon negative by 2030. Climate consciousness and decarbonization have gained tremendous momentum over the past decade, and customers are increasingly engaged: for a $100 product, they are willing to pay an average of $19.50 more to offset carbon emissions. Demonstrating environmental commitment is now a sine qua non condition for a leading businesses and the most impactful indicator is the quantity of CO2 equivalent released.
To assess the carbon footprint of a company, a wide variety of data is required. Emissions are segmented into 3 scopes:
- Scope 1 represents direct GHG emissions such as emissions from combustion and processes.
- Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions associated with energy consumption, the amount of GHG released to produce the electricity, heat, cold, or vapour consumed.
- Scope 3 gathers all other indirect emissions including those from the upstream and downstream value chain, transportation of persons and goods, waste, purchases of products and services, use of the sold products etc.
For each category, the emission factor (kWh used, litres of fuel consumed, kilometres travelled…) must then be translated into equivalent tons of CO2 emitted. This adds to the complexity of the process as the available data is not always in a good format or directly usable (companies can have different energy contracts in different countries, relying on a complex energy mix and an uneven contribution to energy sources depending for instance on the country’s energy policy).
This study must be carried out for each type of product at each company site, so the difficulty of gathering and translating all the data into CO2 emissions grows exponentially with the size of the company, even if all the data is available. Sometimes the necessary data is not available. For instance, a company’s carbon footprint also includes emissions from employee commuting, which requires assumptions to estimate.
The complexity and cumbersomeness of this process have led to the emergence of new tools to automate the analysis and tracking required for carbon emission accounting.
- Emission tracking: Startups such as Emitwise, Worldfavor, and Position Green have designed software and platforms that gather information from all of a company’s locations to automate sustainability reporting and track emissions. These tools give corporates a better understanding of their carbon emissions and allow them to take the most impactful actions for the environment. Other startups target specific sectors. For instance, Sustainabill focuses on tracking the environmental impact of supply chains and allows businesses to compare the sustainability ratings of their suppliers. CarbonCloud develops automated carbon footprint scoring for the food and beverage industry.
- Emission tracking and reduction: Another way to help corporates reduce their carbon footprint is to provide them with insight. Cozero has developed a platform that automates emission accounting, as well as a digital marketplace that offers low-carbon alternatives to reduce carbon emissions. Klimametrix sends its users individual action plans based on their footprint calculations to help them reduce their CO2 emissions. Planetly has built software to analyze companies’ emissions and suggest actions to reduce them, whether it’s improving production processes, switching to renewable energy or adopting greener transportation for business trips.
- Emission tracking and offsetting: Some startups help reduce carbon emissions by offsetting them, guiding corporates in financing carbon reduction projects to compensate their own emissions. Startups like ClimateSeed and Cloverly help measure your carbon footprint and select relevant carbon reduction projects. You invest in one or more projects and receive carbon credits in line with your emissions. This system allows corporates to invest in reliable and verified projects, and to receive reports on the progress of these projects.
It is more difficult for large corporates to track their emissions accurately due to their large number of inputs, locations and suppliers. In fact, most call on consulting firms to get a tailor-made solution and assessment of their emissions. Last year, Amazon invested in Pachama, a startup that offers offsetting solutions through reforestation and quantifies the carbon absorbed by planted trees. This year, Samsung partnered with Carbon Footprint Ltd to offset the carbon footprint of their washing machines and dryers over their lifetime. ERP companies have a head start on this subject, as their software already handles much of the data needed for carbon accounting. In 2019, Salesforce launched its sustainability cloud and last year SAP launched its carbon footprint analytics to meet the demand for automated carbon accounting.
In conclusion, automated emissions tracking is still an emerging topic, which makes it difficult for companies to choose a tool given the lack of differentiation between them. However, in the coming years, we expect to see an increase in investment in this area, as well as a proliferation of startups. The ones that will stand out from the rest will be those that manage to position themselves in specific and highly regulated sectors; across the entire value chain; with smooth integration within the existing IT infrastructure.
2 Key Figures
95 carbon footprint software startups
registered by Crunchbase
Carbon footprint management market expected to reach $12.2 Bn by 2025
The global carbon footprint management market was estimated at $9 Bn in 2020 and is expected to reach $12.2 Bn by 2025, at a CAGR of 6.2%.
3 startups to draw inspiration from
This week, we identified three startups that we can draw inspiration from: Sustainabill, Cozero, and Cloverly.
Sustainabill is a Cologne based startup,developer of supply chain management platform designed to achieve multi-tier-visibility and trace supply chains to the source. The platform analyses the entire supply chain network and source of the raw material to collects data from suppliers and sub-suppliers as well as to identify sustainability-related risks.
Cozero developped a digital carbon action platform focused on helping companies take control of their corporate emission data. The companies platform offers tools for end-to-end carbon management, planning, emission accounting and carbon portfolio management to maintain carbon log and forecast carbon output using data analytics, thereby enabling companies to achieve carbon neutralization.
Cloverly’s sustainability as a service platform calculates the carbon impact of common internet activities like e-commerce shipments, rideshare and on-demand deliveries and then purchases carbon offsets to make those activities carbon-neutral, enabling buyers to view in real-time the source of the offset and through its algorithm matches customers with the closest source of renewable energy for localized impact.