Google engineers help Normative create carbon emissions tracking tool

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Michael Short / Bloomberg via Getty Images

A dozen Google engineers are helping Swedish start-up Normative build a new carbon emissions tracker.

Emissions counting software is designed to help businesses calculate their environmental footprint. It does this by analyzing all the transactions in a company’s accounting systems, including energy bills, business trips, raw material purchases, and many other small items that businesses would often ignore.

“Essentially, what gets measured gets managed,” Kristian Ronn, CEO and co-founder of Normative, told CNBC. “The reason we are doing it is because we are facing a climate crisis and two-thirds of all emissions are from businesses.”

Normative, which said it had raised an additional 10 million euros ($ 11.5 million) from investors on Wednesday, says it can help companies on the path to net zero emissions. “We can give them the full picture by analyzing all of their data,” Ronn said.

The start-up, founded seven years ago and previously backed by billionaire investor Chris Sacca, bills hundreds of companies, including French bank BNP Paribas, for access to its software, with rates based on the size of the customer.

Ronn declined to say how much the company charges, but said, “It’s a lot cheaper than hiring sustainability consultants with Excel spreadsheets to do the job.”

A starter version

Google engineers are helping Normative create a free “starter version” of the product, Ronn said, adding that it was launched with the United Nations in time for the COP26 climate conference in early November.

“They send us a dozen of their brightest engineers,” Ronn said.

Google staff joined Normative full time, pro bono for six months starting October 1. “Our team is currently just over 50 people, so having just over 10 more people makes all the difference,” he said.

Technical support for the search giant comes after Google backed the company with $ 1 million earlier this year through its philanthropic arm, Google.org.

Jen Carter, head of technology and volunteering at Google.org, told CNBC that accurately measuring carbon emissions is essential if small businesses are to understand the impact of their actions. “We are excited to provide both funding and technology talent to help Normative create a solution that will make measurement more accessible,” she said.

While the burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of the climate crisis, the global dependence on energy sources such as oil and gas is expected to worsen further in the coming decades. It comes even as world leaders and CEOs repeatedly tout their commitment to the so-called “energy transition”.

Of around 400 million businesses globally, only a handful currently account for their carbon emissions, Ronn said, adding that small businesses and those in the south are less likely to track their emissions than larger and larger ones in the world. north of the world.

“Those [businesses] who do, are actually only a fraction of their total emissions, so that’s really a problem, ”he said.

Many companies only record emissions for things that are relatively easy to track, like electricity, Ronn said. “But that’s only around 10% for most companies,” he added. “Most of it is in the supply chain. “

Prior to Normative, Ronn studied global catastrophic risks with renowned Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford.

“I left Oxford to start Normative because I wanted to make the risks achievable,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy the things we do today affect future generations not just for hundreds of years, but for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years into the future. the right way now, where we have management of the planet, then we can make a big, big difference. “


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