Friday, July 1, 2022

Startup to unravel carbon tangle

As farmers are urged to “know your number” and account for carbon emissions, a Singapore based firm has developed the technology to help with that. Unravel Carbon founders are promising a one stop solution to not only establishing green house gas emission numbers, but also generating solutions to help reduce them, and packaging a business’s efforts into a sustainability report for regulators and consumers alike. Richard Rennie reports.

Unravel Carbon founder Marc Allen says with only eight years until firm climate targets have to be met, the proportion of businesses globally already measuring their carbon emissions and “knowing their numbers” is miniscule.

“Globally there are only about 10,000 businesses, out of 400 million, actually measuring their emissions.” 

He says it is possible to see the potential in New Zealand’s primary sector efforts to “know your numbers” will place it at the leading edge of emissions knowledge, as required under He Waka Eke Noa.

With $US7.4 million of start-up capital funding now under its belt, the company has NZ and Australia well in its sights to ramp the numbers of businesses subscribing to the platform.

“And for the NZ agriculture sector in particular, that need to know your GHG emissions profile is even more compelling on grounds financial institutions like banks are going to be themselves required to know what their clients’ profiles are.”

Unravel Carbon’s aim is to simplify the auditing process used to determine GHG emissions profile. 

Allen says right now the whole process is often handicapped by the sheer complexity of measurement, multiple spreadsheets and calculations that can make it a frustrating, painstaking process.

“We have found for many businesses, they are often left to try and determine their profiles on their own, there is a lack of procedure and methodology there.” 

The founders have made food and agriculture the focus of the platform’s first decarbonisation “engine”. 

Early-stage clients further up the food supply chain already include Salad Stop!, Asia’s largest salad chain and Indonesia’s top grocery delivery startup company HappyFresh.

Acknowledging many farms tend to fall into the small-medium enterprise scale, the company is also working to tune the system for such sized businesses.

“Of course,for farmers, their primary job is to farm, not to be emissions calculators. We are working to give them a high-quality platform for calculation with minimum effort that is auditable and allowable.” 

As the number of sector-specific businesses builds under Unravel Carbon’s watch, accurate comparison to peers’ emissions is possible. 

Month to month progress can be monitored, along with where the reductions have been achieved and what expenditure category those mitigations fall into.

Unravel Carbon is getting a full audit conducted on its processes to ensure it ticks the reporting boxes for NZ emissions regulations.

Driven by AI programmes and algorithms that learn and build on collective industry input to the programme, Unravel Carbon also draws on IPCC methodologies and GHG measurement protocols specific to the particular sector the business is from. 

“Globally there are only about 10,000 businesses, out of 400 million actually measuring their emissions.” 

Marc Allen
Unravel Carbon

The system already includes early input data from the NZ pastoral sector on methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

“When measuring an individual farm’s profile, the system includes the ability to incorporate any novel or new solutions to reduce emissions, such as methane inhibitors as that technology becomes available,” Allen says.

The company has set the big goal of cumulatively removing one billion tonnes of CO2 through its programme’s calculations and subsequent emissions reductions recommendations to companies.

“That is our ‘North star’ goal, it is a reasonable percentage of the global emissions challenge, which is that by 2030 the world should have reduced carbon emissions by 43-48%, to about 25 gigatonnes a year.”

The platform’s ability to compile vast amounts of data from multiple related businesses gives it the capacity, along with climate advisor expert input, to make recommendations on where emissions reductions can take place to decarbonise the business. 

Simple dashboard summaries include an indication of the mitigation’s cost, impact (on total emissions) and the time to implement.

“The ability to generate a sustainability report from the actual data and profile of the business is  that final step Unravel Carbon completes. This ensures not only do the owners have a useful, user-friendly document, but they can genuinely claim full transparency about the process, both for consumers and as regulatory disclosure demands.”

More articles on this topic