New tools helping companies better track and achieve ambitious climate goals, without wasting time

The emergence of a slew of new carbon monitoring and tracking tools is providing businesses with the data they need to meet their climate goals – but time is running out to turn this into meaningful action.

We know the problem: right now, global corporations are collectively not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions to meet science-based climate goals. They don’t even achieve their own goals.

While it’s great that many companies have made bold commitments to reduce carbon, use plastic or source without deforestation, results have been lacking so far. the Corporate Climate Responsibility Observatory 2022
found that most of the top 25 global brands are failing to meet their own climate commitments. Similarly, a scoreboard published by the Rainforest Action Network last year found that most big brands and multinational banks were failing to stop deforestation – another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Part of this is due to greenwashing; but a lot of that is because many companies don’t have access to the data to make the right sourcing and sustainability decisions. That, however, is changing – as several new tools based on AI, machine learning, and blockchain are empowering sustainability decision makers to make more climate-friendly decisions.

“A lot of times brands make choices when it comes to things that involve carbon, but you don’t know if the choice you’re making is better or worse,”
Namrata Sandhuan old Zalando exec and sustainability expert with more than two decades of experience, said Sustainable Brands™. “So having the tools to understand that – before making decisions or understanding the impact of those decisions – is quite powerful.”

Sandhu is co-founder of Vaayu — new automated software helping retailers better track their carbon emissions and refine their approach to reducing their carbon footprint.

Another tool with a similar purpose to Vaayu is
carbon chain, which focuses on commodity supply chains. It promises to automate a company’s carbon accounting, allowing it to more quickly address climate risks, reduce emissions and accelerate the transition to net zero emissions.

“Quantifying your supply chain emissions helps you understand how your business will be affected and where to take action to protect your supply chains,”
Adam HearnCEO of CarbonChain, said in a recent blog post.

Meanwhile, ClearTrace takes a different approach – focusing on tracking a common sustainability goal: clean energy supply. It provides businesses with an hourly analysis of the source, location and grid carbon intensity of their energy consumption; data that can be extremely useful for companies with large power-intensive facilities such as factories or data centers.

It’s not just startups that create tools. IBM uses his AI expertise to create what he calls the Environmental Intelligence Suite, a service that aims to streamline carbon footprint analysis. It also highlights areas where businesses are exposed to extreme events exacerbated by climate change.

The voluntary sector also participates, with the World Economic Forum
publish, in 2020, a proof of concept for a blockchain-based tool called
TOC
which tracks emissions embedded in the mining industry. As mining activities expand to meet the demand for clean energy technologies, ensuring they do no harm is imperative for a clean and just transition.

“There is a growing demand for metals and minerals, and a growing demand for sustainable, responsible and traceable supply chains,” Jörgen Sandstromhead of mining and metals industry, World Economic Forum, in a press release.

There are just a few of the many tools available; but they all show that knowledge is powerful – and they are already helping businesses.

“We’ve never had this level of data and visibility into our carbon footprint. It saves us months of work on the calculations; and we can focus on reducing, which is what we really should be doing,” Lavinia Muth — Head of corporate responsibility at an online sustainable fashion retailer
ArmedAngels — said from the Vaayu platform.

As many people working in the field of sustainability know, data often drives action. Being able to definitively demonstrate that a decision can result in reduced carbon emissions is extremely powerful. Within a company, having access to this kind of data can help advocate for more sustainable decisions. It can also enable better use of human and financial resources, which also means better impacts.

The hope is that these new tools could, over time, help brands achieve their goals, which is one of Sandhu’s goals for Vaayu.

“Managing these goals has been very difficult for companies because it’s very difficult to track,” she said. “There are a lot of goals, there are a lot of commitments and there are a lot of people who want to achieve and set goals. What we are doing is enabling the tracking of those targets.

Businesses now have more, better and faster ways to track their carbon footprint, but time is running out to turn this into meaningful action. Like the last
IPCC report continues to drive home, we have truly reached a global “code red” for humanity, a code that demands urgent action from businesses and governments.

“If you take into account all the climate goals we have to meet, it doesn’t seem fast enough,” says Sandhu. “We feel a lot of pressure to accelerate and scale, keeping in mind that companies need to achieve many goals by 2030.”

If we are to avoid the worst of climate change, we need companies to adopt more ambitious approaches, using all the tools in the sustainability arsenal to rapidly reduce their carbon footprint.

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