‘There’s a lack of urgency among companies in achieving net zero targets’: Unravel Carbon’s Grace Sai

Unravel Carbon Co-Founder Grace Sai

This article was first published on October 4, 2022.

While there are only eight years left to decelerate the impacts of climate change, the world is yet to absorb the enormity of the crisis fully. Shockingly, less than 10,000 of the 400 million companies are measuring their carbon emissions globally. Grace Sai and her team started Unravel Carbon in 2022 to bring a transformation.

Based in Singapore, Unravel Carbon helps companies track and reduce their carbon emissions, specialising in Scope 3, focusing on Asia-Pacific. (Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organisation but that the organisation indirectly impacts in its value chain)

An AI-powered decarbonisation platform, Unravel Carbon converts any company’s accounting data into full supply chain carbon data in seconds, provides detailed emissions analytics, generates climate solutions, and auto-populates regulatory disclosure reports. It serves companies within the food & agriculture, tech, fashion & footwear, and built environment sectors — which account for more than 60 per cent of global carbon emissions.

We recently interviewed Grace Sai, who spoke about climate change, the company’s resolve to tackle it, and the climate tech space. She also talked about the significance of offline events like Echelon Asia 2022, where she will speak about climate change.

Why are climate-tech solutions like Unravel Carbon’s crucial in this era?

The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for 60 per cent of global emissions, and we house 70 per cent of supply chains worldwide. The burden of responsibility is on us, but many companies who want to take action have to go through the rigmarole of manual data collection. This process takes six to nine months and typically involves external consultants.

Unravel Carbon converts accounting data into carbon data in seconds. We want to make decarbonising painless — by switching around the effort/impact ratio, companies can now use their time on what really matters — implementing strategies to reduce their emissions.

Also Read: ‘Economic crises become less important when investing with a longer-term mindset’: Qin En Looi

Climate tech solutions are critical to enabling accelerated and aggressive action to limit global warming. We have a mission to decarbonise 1 Gt CO2-e by 2030, totalling 5 per cent of global carbon reduction goals. The power of computing makes this possible and is crucial, especially in an era of climate emergency.

While many companies are now emerging in climate tech, the space is yet to get its due attention. Is it because the world hasn’t fully realised the magnitude of the problem?

Public awareness of climate change has increased in recent years, especially with the rise of intense climate-related disasters. Regardless of whether society acknowledges it, the impacts are already at our doorsteps and felt by many.

I’ve observed that while there has been an increase in companies setting net zero targets, the urgency in achieving these climate goals is lacking — 40 per cent of them don’t even have a target year to achieve these commitments yet.

With the era of pledges behind us, the next critical decade must focus on pathways. Platforms like Unravel Carbon suggest these pathways and keep companies accountable for achieving them.

The amount of funds flowing into this space is also relatively low…

The investment focus for climate tech has seen significant growth in recent years in terms of fund allocations. We were told that we had raised the largest seed round for a climate tech platform in Asia’s history. The Y Combinator cohort we were part of (W22) had the most climate tech companies in YC’s history. Paul Graham, the founder of YC, even tweeted about that.

There are multiple reasons here, but we love the coming together for regulatory and personal reasons. Inflexion points happen when a multitude of motivations come together at the same time. It may take decades to reach there, but once that is reached, it accelerates in impact and magnitude. We believe climate tech is just at that inflexion point.

Also Read: ‘Events like Echelon are important during tough times because there’s strength in unity’

Emerging regulations such as the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) catalyses companies and investors to revise their business strategies. Similarly, under the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) March 2022 climate-related rule proposal, public companies must disclose their Scope 3 emissions. Thousands of companies have now made pledges to net zero or set science-based targets.

There is, however, still a lot of room for growth — according to estimates from BNEF and McKinsey, to reach net zero by 2050, the world will have to invest anywhere from US$3 trillion to US$9 trillion per year on average. Following this, we can expect climate tech investment figures to increase exponentially in the coming years.

As per a Bloomberg report of August 2022, carbon and climate startups have attracted record investments at a time when other industries are struggling to tap funds from venture capitalists. Buoyed by corporate and government pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a record US$1.4 billion poured into climate and carbon-focused startups in the second quarter of this year. 

How can companies like Unravel Carbon and VCs collaborate with governments to educate the market?

Companies like ours bring the power of digitalisation to solving the climate crisis —primarily in the lack of data and good user interfaces for companies, both large and small, to be part of the solution.

In many countries, governments can be powerful in driving digital adoption through their fiscal and legislative policies. The government also has the most expansive reach when it comes to the millions of SMEs that constitute a significant component of most economies. Governments working with the private sector represent the best of both worlds. They can represent a robust working model to educate the market that can affect real change amongst businesses on the importance of addressing climate change.

This public-private engagement model would marry the tools, know-how, and mission of a company like Unravel Carbon, with the reach and policymaking power of the government. VCs would play a powerful enabling role where their capital would provide the firepower needed to scale the deployment of climate tech solutions through the broader economy.

What is the role of governments here?

Presently, 140 countries have announced or are considering net zero targets, so we will see increases in climate legislation in the coming years as governments start applying pressure through regulation or policymaking. For example, implementing carbon taxes, setting standards or bans, introducing subsidies or public finance mechanisms, and green infrastructure investment.

This will drive accountability in the private sector as governments signal clear expectations and eliminate any ambiguity that might lead to inaction.

Why are offline events like Echelon important in tough times like economic slow-down? What do you expect from the event?

Offline events are a key component of a vibrant and healthy startup ecosystem. Not only do they propagate valuable thought leadership and ideas to the startup community at large, but these events provide a crucial avenue for networking and collaboration between entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, corporates, and other stakeholders.

Also Read: Nothing can truly replace the offline element of community building: Yinglan Tan

During tough times, increased connectivity within the ecosystem from face-to-face engagement can create significant economic value. These events are also versatile in offering multiple value offerings to different stakeholders.

For example, we hope the event will give Unravel Carbon more visibility amongst attendees, as greater awareness about our primary product positively impacts our vision and mission.


Echelon 2022 aims to provide intimate and focused discussions on key topics and business matching services to facilitate business-driven connections during the two-day event. e27 will curate and invite key stakeholders of startups, investors, corporates, and ecosystem enablers to drive towards fruitful business outcomes at Echelon. 

Here’s the full list of the speakers for the 2022 edition, which will be co-located with SWITCH at Resorts World Sentosa from 27 to 28 October 2022. Learn more here

The post ‘There’s a lack of urgency among companies in achieving net zero targets’: Unravel Carbon’s Grace Sai appeared first on e27.

Source link

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *