Greenwashing needs to be abolished, says climate entrepreneur

Details of the pilot carbon dioxide (CO2) capture plant were photographed at the Amager Bakke waste incinerator in Copenhagen on June 24, 2021. – The goal is to be able to capture 500,000 tons of CO2 from Amager Bakke emissions by 2025.

IDA GULDBAEK ARENTSEN | AFP | Getty Images

A Swedish startup backed by Google claims that its carbon emissions tracker can help put an end to companies’ laundering of the environment.

Normative, which is headquartered in Stockholm, says its platform can help companies calculate their true environmental footprint and avoid misleading the public.

“We are at war against greenwashing,” Benchmark CEO and co-founder Christian Rohn told CNBC, adding that underreporting of greenhouse gas emissions is a major issue.

With the emergence of the importance of the climate emergency, companies have taken steps to try to appear as “green” as possible. But not all of their ads have an impact, leading to concerns that they are nothing more than PR stunts.

“Companies are the biggest polluter,” Ron said. “They’re responsible for two-thirds of all emissions. So they need to account for the footprint and mitigate that footprint, because what’s being measured is basically managed.”

The burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of the climate crisis, yet the world’s dependence on energy sources such as oil and gas is expected to worsen in the coming decades.

According to Ron, companies are currently under no obligation to measure their carbon footprint and those often fail to do so properly. “There are no mechanisms to ensure the completeness of the information,” he said.

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Normative’s platform aims to analyze all transactions in a company’s accounting systems, including energy bills, business travel, raw material purchases and many other small items that businesses often overlook.

“Our obsession with saying ‘let’s load up every single bill you have’ means you actually have comparisons of apples versus greenhouse gas calculations,” Ron said, adding that this means the carbon data can be trusted.

Normative, which announced it had raised an additional €10 million ($11.5 million) from investors earlier this month, said it could help companies on their path to net zero emissions.

The startup, founded seven years ago and backed by billionaire investor Chris Sacca, Lowercarbon Capital among others, charges hundreds of companies including French bank BNP Paribas for access to its programs, at rates dependent on client size.

About a dozen Google engineers are helping Normative create a free version of the software.

The engineering support for the search giant comes after Google backed the company with €1 million earlier this year through its philanthropic arm Google.org.

Last week, Google announced that it will tell its cloud customers the carbon emissions of their cloud use. Microsoft did the same for Azure customers with the launch of the “Emissions Impact Dashboard”.

Elsewhere, the United Nations has built a carbon emission calculator but it targets individual households.

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