⏩ Future Normal: Green Data

Your company’s environmental data was as easy to analyze as your web traffic?

The digital revolution has given us many wonderful things: global connectivity; peer-to-peer platforms; transparency; Instagram influencers; an infinite range of pastel-colored, sans serif typeface D2C brands in every category \o/ 

But alongside the customer-facing transformation of business and culture, there has been an even more profound shift in how organizations are managed. As the famous quote goes, “what gets measured gets managed.” And in the digital era, everything gets measured. 

However, an individual’s or organization’s environmental impact has remained remarkably resistant to becoming data-driven. Yes, hundreds of thousands of scientists collect endless data points about the Earth’s climate. But ask people about their climate impact, or even the impact of the organization they work for, and you’ll largely draw a blank.  

In this week’s edition of The Future Normal you’ll learn why this is about to change. 


Normal 

There has been a surge in companies trying to showcase their eco-credentials: 58% of companies in America’s S&P 500 Index now publish a sustainability report, up from 37% in 2011. 

But there are no agreed standards, making it hard to compare (or know if companies are simply cherry-picking favorable indicators). 

Even those who want to do the right thing find it hard to analyze their eco-data. Collecting this data is expensive; understanding and managing it is difficult. 


Future Normal 

Environmental data will become reliable and accessible, via a suite of democratized SaaS solutions. Billion-dollar businesses will emerge in these ‘new’ industries, as impact reporting becomes both required and expected. 

Indeed, companies will measure and report on their environmental data as they do financial and other data streams, both to satisfy regulators and drive superior performance. Why wouldn’t you want to understand this information?


Instigators & innovators 

Watershed 

The current hottest startup in Silicon Valley. Backed by legendary investors at Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins, Watershed’s platform helps companies measure, reduce and report their CO2 emissions. Its big differentiator: granular, supplier-level data rather than benchmarked averages. Go deep on their vision here

See also Plan A, Equilibrium, Emitwise.

Doconomy

Partnering with Mastercard, the Swedish startup’s 2030 Calculator allows brands and manufacturers to calculate the environmental impact of their products. 90 million customers can now see it in action thanks to Klarna showing carbon footprint information to its 90 million shoppers

Pachama

The startup uses lidar, satellite images and AI to verify and monitor the carbon benefit in a particular forest at any given time, enabling its customers to buy trustworthy carbon credits

Google & Stella McCartney

The sustainable fashion designer partnered with Google to measure the impact of specific raw materials in relation to key environmental factors such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water scarcity. 

U.K. Government

The U.K. has announced that it will be mandatory for large companies to report on the financial impacts of climate change on their businesses by 2025, becoming the first country to do so.


What if…? 

📉 You make a grand Net Zero climate commitment. Do you know how to get to where you want to go? Do you have the data and insights you need? 

👩🏽‍🔬 Eco-data scientists and analysts become the hot new in-demand roles? 

🏭 Investors scrutinize a company’s eco-data as closely as they do its financial data? How would you stack up? 

🔍 Transparency was unavoidable? As platforms mature, it’s easy to picture a world where activists (and/or competitors) will be able to take a view of your environmental impact whether you like it or not. 

⚖️ There is fraud and scandal? Just as accounting rules didn’t prevent Enron from imploding, eco-data regulation and platforms will be manipulated by determined (or desperate) leaders.