Greenwashing needs to be abolished, says climate entrepreneur

Steven Spielberg

A detail of the pilot carbon dioxide (CO2) capture plant is pictured at Amager Bakke waste incinerator in Copenhagen on June 24, 2021. – The goal is to be able to capture 500,000 tonnes of CO2 from Amager Bakke’s emissions by 2025.


A Swedish start-up that’s been backed by Google claims that its carbon emissions tracker can help to put an end to corporate greenwashing.

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

“We are on a war on combating greenwashing,” Normative CEO and co-founder Kristian Ronn told CNBC, adding that the underreporting of greenhouse gas emissions is a major issue.

As the importance of the climate emergency has come to light, businesses have been taking steps to try to appear as “green” as possible. But not all their announcements are having an impact, leading to concerns that they’re little more than PR stunts.

“Businesses are the big polluters,” Ronn said. “They are responsible for two thirds of the total emissions. So they need to account for the footprint and mitigate that footprint, because essentially what gets measured gets managed.”

Burning fossil fuels is the chief driver of the climate crisis, yet the world’s dependency on energy sources such as oil and gas is set to get even worse in the coming decades.

Companies aren’t currently obligated to measure their carbon footprint and those that do often fail to do it properly, according to Ronn. “There are no mechanisms in place to ensure the completeness of the information,” he said.

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

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

“Our obsession about saying ‘let’s upload every single invoice you have’ means that you actually have apples to apples comparisons of the greenhouse gas accounts,” Ronn said, adding that this means the carbon data can be trusted.

Normative, which announced it had raised an additional 10 million euros ($11.5 million) from investors earlier this month, claims that it can help businesses on their path to net-zero emissions.

The start-up, founded seven years ago and backed by billionaire investor Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital among others, charges hundreds of firms including French bank BNP Paribas for access to its software, with rates depending on the size of the customer.

Around a dozen Google engineers are helping Normative to build a free version of the software.

The search giant’s engineering support comes after Google backed the company with 1 million euros earlier this year through its philanthropic arm,

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

Elsewhere, the United Nations has built a carbon footprint calculator but it’s targeted at individual households.

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