Market Intelligence That Focuses on Decarbonization: What’s New with Providers and Offerings

Never has there been a greater need for decarbonization-focused market intelligence. In this area in the near future, one can expect to see new provider growth and a surge in innovative offerings. In a Washington Post article about the need for a new offsets market, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is cited as warning that “half the needed reductions in carbon emissions must come from energy technologies that haven’t yet reached commercial markets.” The article goes on to state: “In the first eight months of 2021, voluntary carbon markets increased nearly 60% over 2020. But the biggest demand is yet to come.” In addition, S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows “private equity and venture capital investment in renewable energy increased about 144% to $11.92 billion across 33 deals in the year to May 23 [2022] from $4.89 billion across 33 transactions recorded in the same period in 2021.”

Market intelligence-related providers and organizations operating (and expanding into) this space are not sitting still. Here are recent interesting launches, updates, and events.

Sphera – In September 2022, ESG performance and risk management software and services provider, Sphera, signed an agreement to acquire riskmethods (Munich), a respected pioneer in the mapping and supply chain risk management space. Says Paul Marushka, Sphera’s president and CEO, “riskmethods innovative approach to SCRM bolsters Sphera’s capabilities in offering a Scope 3 emissions monitoring and reporting solution…and their presence in Europe and the U.S. reinforces our ability to serve our expanding global customer base.” In May 2022, Sphera launched its new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Automation software, which builds upon the company’s existing LCA solutions, such as Product Sustainability (GaBi). GaBi includes official datasets from over 60 industry associations and helps businesses assess and understand the environmental impact/footprint of their products. GaBi, OpenLCA, SimaPro and Umberto are some of the major LCA tools currently offered by software providers.

Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) – The SBTi, in September 2022, launched the Forest, Land and Agriculture (FLAG) Science Based Target Setting Guidance, for businesses in land-intensive sectors such as food, agriculture and forestry. This Guidance “enables companies to set science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals” and “fills a 22% gap of global emissions that have not been addressed before.” SBTi states that “everything from deforestation to diet shift and 11 mitigation pathways for major commodities with high carbon footprints including beef, palm oil, dairy, poultry, timber and wood fiber” is covered.

ResponsibleSteel – ResponsibleSteel announced the launch of its new International Standard V2.0, with tough additional requirements on climate and responsible sourcing (includes 13 Principles, 61 Criteria and over 500 individual requirements). According to the press release, “For the first time, steelmakers will be able to gain credible recognition in the market for the progress they make – both on decarbonization and on driving sustainability through their supply chains – because they have been independently certified against a common, agreed, international standard. Buyers of steel can specify it in what they ask of their suppliers.”

Ecoinvent – Leading LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) database provider, Ecoinvent, in late July 2022, announced that Ecoinvent 3.9 is coming soon. This newest version will expand sectorial coverage with the latest data in electricity, oil and gas, waste, chemicals, metals, agriculture, and paper, and update LCIA (Life Cycle Impact Assessment) scores related to climate change, mineral resources, land use, and others. For a nice list of LCA databases, check out the Databases page at openLCA Nexus.

Agri-footprint – In August 2022, Agri-footprint, a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database in the agri-food sector, announced a notably larger expansion of animal production systems in their newest version, Agri-footprint 6. There is also improvement of the dairy datasets that were developed in parallel with the EF 3.0 agri-food database development in collaboration with the European Dairy Association (EDA).

Accenture – Accenture announced on September 1, 2022, that it has acquired the carbon and climate change strategy consultancy, Carbon Intelligence. Carbon Intelligence uses Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) strategies to help businesses understand and reduce their overall carbon footprints. Rounding out its fifth sustainability-focused acquisition in the last year, Accenture continues to expands its capabilities in “sustainability strategy, supply chain transformation, and data-driven measurement of value and impact.” Earlier acquisitions include Greenfish (France, Belgium and the Netherlands), akzente (Germany), Avieco( UK), and Zestgroup (the Netherlands).

Salesforce – Salesforce announced on September 20, 2022, its new Net Zero Marketplace which connects buyers with ecopreneurs via a trusted carbon credit platform. “Net Zero Marketplace, built on Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud, connects buyers and ecopreneurs…offering a catalog of third-party rated carbon credits and a seamless ecommerce experience for purchasing them. Net Zero Marketplace also features a climate action hub where anyone — businesses or individuals — can learn about climate issues.” Carbon credit providers Climate Impact Partners, Cloverly, Lune, Pachama, Native, A Public Benefit Corporation, Respira International, and South Pole; third-party rating companies Calyx Global and Sylvera; and curated climate portfolio provider are all inaugural partners.

PwC – PwC’s newest release of their Net Zero Economy Index (September 20, 2022) “shows progress on decarbonisation is falling alarmingly short of what is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, with nine of 20 major economies showing increases in carbon intensity over the last year.” The Index, which tracks G20 countries and their progress in reducing energy-related CO2 emissions, reveals the best performing country was South Africa followed by Australia, China, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the UK. Showing increases were the US, India, Japan, Germany, and France.

EY – One of the major takeaways from the latest release of EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), supports IEA’s messaging on emerging technologies being key to reducing global reliance on gas and increasing energy security. For example, floating technology is seeing major growth with floating solar power garnering more interest. “For smaller countries with little available land, it could be a key technology in generating carbon-free energy. As demand soars for new sources of renewable energy, research and innovation in this field could push floating solar from a niche area to mainstream.”

Visual Capitalist and National Public Utilities Council – Visual Capitalist and their sponsor, National Public Utilities Council, have introduced the Annual Utility Decarbonization Index, which quantifies and compares the status of decarbonization among the 30 largest investor-owned utilities in the United States. The Index uses six metrics to track utility decarbonization: Fuel Mix, CO2 Emissions Intensity, Total CO2 Emissions, CO2 Emissions per capita, Decarbonization Goals, and Low Carbon Investment.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – The DOE, in September 2022, released its Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap, which is a comprehensive report identifying four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions in American manufacturing. “The roadmap emphasizes the urgency of dramatically cutting carbon emissions and pollution from the industrial sector, and presents a staged research, development, and demonstration agenda for industry and government.” In addition, the DOE announced a $104 million funding opportunity to advance industrial decarbonization technologies.

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