Sofia Lotto Persio, Editorial Lead on Sustainability at Forbes, spoke to our CEO and Co-Founder Mauro Cozzi on how businesses can accurately report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Originally published in the Forbes Current Climate Newsletter.
How do you build a software that can accurately measure a company’s carbon emissions?
It’s about getting as much raw data as possible. For instance, I don't want to know just that, last year, a company spent $10 million on raw materials. I want to know specifically, what is the copper that you bought? Which mine did it come from? How many kilograms?
We use a lot of the open data sets but they can be hard to work with. So we've put a lot of engineering efforts into making them usable at scale. Then we've started building our own data sets within some of the areas of focus that we have, like manufacturing value chains.
Some businesses seem reluctant to include their value chain emissions, also known as Scope 3 emissions, as part of their net zero targets. Have you encountered that kind of resistance to tracking emissions across the whole value chain?
It's a combination of two things. You have companies that, quite frankly, don't really understand how this all works. Then there's some other companies who do actually really, really understand it. And that's why they're scared of it because they know that they're going to have to change their entire business model to adapt to the new world.
There's this misconception that there is no way to share scope three data, and that everything is really unstandardized. Companies have to make subjective decisions on how they report their Scope 3, but [what’s really important is that] they’re transparent about how they’re doing it. Transparency reduces the fear. From a personal point of view, I disagree fundamentally with anybody who's trying to say that Scope 3 is not their responsibility.
Several studies report that not enough companies have set a net zero target. How would you encourage those who haven't yet started the process to get on it?
We receive a lot of inbound interest. But we also like to focus on carbon intensive companies, because they're the ones that can have the most impact. One of our first suggestions is to just get on the roadmap towards the science-based targets. We're very big fans of the Science-Based Targets Initiative, which basically means that my company is aligned with the Paris Agreement. It can seem daunting until somebody tells you actually, it's just the journey.
Should it become mandatory to calculate and disclose carbon emissions?
What should become mandatory, if you ask me, is reduction targets. Germany announced a 2045 carbon neutrality target. How is Germany going to do it, if they don't decarbonize their industrial sector? They're going to have to mandate this. But I think we need more than that. The most encouraging thing that I've seen is supply chain pressure, we're seeing suppliers react to that.
Where do you think the opportunities for reductions are?
Electrify your fleet, fit solar panels: energy and transport are the top two most carbon intensive industries in the world. Some others are much less obvious. And this is where data becomes extremely important—our manufacturing customers are finding their facilities are carbon inefficient, because they're producing more waste, they're using the wrong raw materials, they're procuring from suppliers that are on the other side of the world when they don't really need to. That's really the power of data—in discovering the low hanging fruit that isn't intuitive, or isn't obvious. And the best part about those is that not only are they usually cheaper ways to decarbonize, but they're also a great marketing story. This is where you close that loop of being greener and making more money out of it.
If you could make one change to how businesses measure carbon emissions, what would it be?
I think the world we want to live in is one where carbon is a KPI, a measurement, just as much as dollar signs are, so that whenever a new company is evaluating a supplier, they're making a decision on what kind of product to build. And I think for that to be possible, we need to really push the boundaries of carbon accounting precision, and the technology that sits underneath all of it.
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