Dec 2022 / Blog / Focus

Using tech to help small businesses reduce carbon emissions: Let’s do it!

Reducing carbon emissions is the call to action of our times. Urgent, complicated and at times costly to implement, how can start-ups and SMEs balance concrete actions to reduce emissions with the need to grow?

Reducing carbon emissions to a level that limits global warming to 1.5° involves action on the part of government, individuals and businesses. For small businesses especially, the task can often seem overwhelming when taken in tandem with the pressures of balancing the books, growing the business and keeping staff in much-needed jobs. 

For start-ups too, which often find themselves in a whirlwind of chaotic growth during their initial years of operation, allocating adequate time and resources to tackle the problem can easily fall down on the list of priorities.

Thankfully though, technology and data are being used for more than social networking and influencer marketing activities. Kolsquare has partnered with two tech platforms that aim to help companies to join the fight against climate change by simplifying the processes required to measure and reduce CO2 emissions, and to offset those that cannot be eliminated. 

Key takeaways

  • Although digital activities are a significant contributor to global CO2 emissions, tech is also a part of the solution.
  • Start-ups, SMEs and midcaps must play their part in helping to limit global warming.
  • Fighting climate change does not have to be cloaked in doom and gloom; NGOs like Tree-Nation are counting on social networking and gamification to drive change.

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The first of these tools is SaaS platform Sami, which automates existing carbon footprint audit methodology to enable companies to measure their carbon output. Sami’s technology compiles and analyzes financial and accounting data related to all aspects of the business, which it then associates with emissions according to activity category, such as travel, purchasing, buildings, digital output, etc. Staff are also asked to complete a survey of their consumption and travel habits.

In France, SMEs and midcaps account for 60% employment and according to our estimates, for about 40% – 50% of French greenhouse gas emissions,” comments Sami co-founder Tanguy Robert. “So we need to ensure that they are included in the drive to fight climate change. We created Sami as a solution that allows these companies to measure their footprint in a simple, affordable way and so that businesses of all sizes have the means to play their part.

As a tech company, the majority (56%) of Kolsquare’s carbon emissions are generated by digital services such as servers, data hosting, computer hardware, etc, according to the Sami audit. A further 34% are generated through suppliers and services, such as marketing, events, recruitment, or telecommunications. 

Thanks in large part to its 100% work-from-home model, Kolsquare ranks around the middle of the grid in terms of emissions when compared against similar-sized companies in its sector. 

Taking action

Suggestions for reducing carbon emissions range from purchasing reconditioned computers, which are four to five times more efficient in terms of emissions generated, or working with data hosting providers that rely on renewable energy sources or have optimized energy usage to reduce emissions.  

The Sami audit provided a good overview of the company’s emissions generation, but looking ahead, the challenge of reducing emissions on a more profound level will require continuity of commitment from individual staff, and from management, especially around driving new conversations with partners and suppliers on the need to analyze and reduce emissions.   

There are still things we can do to improve,” comments Kolsquare CFO Alexis Klahr. “The most challenging thing is to improve accuracy of the audit by sending questionnaires to our suppliers and going deeper on analyzing some other aspects. But as a first step, it wasn’t complicated or time consuming to do.”  

Klahr points to a new tool aimed at companies working in social media and influencer marketing that calculates the carbon footprint of online ad campaigns as an example of how analysis and accuracy can be improved. 

In partnership with online business accounting service Shine, Sami’s latest tool for measuring CO2 emissions is a calculator that estimates the footprint of digital ad campaigns. Aimed at marketers, the free tool uses ad campaign data provided by the platforms — Instagram ads, Facebook ads, Adwords, etc. — to calculate the CO2 impact of online campaigns.    

New tools like this can help improve our understanding of the impact of our online activities, and offer a source of inspiration for ways we can improve,” comments Klahr. 

Following the Sami analysis of its carbon output, Kolsquare has been working with Google — which tracks the carbon emissions of cloud usage — on ways to manage and reduce data hosting services to cut emissions (and which also has the added benefit of reducing costs). 

Reforestation: major weapon to limit warming

To offset its emissions, Kolsquare partnered with reforestation tech solution Tree-Nation. An NGO, Tree-Nation has set the ambitious target of planting 1tn trees by 2050, which it aims to achieve with the help of a series of technical tools designed to automate and strengthen emotional links between the acts of donating money and tree-planting projects. 

Our main mission is not to offset emissions, but to reforest the planet,” comments Tree-Nation Climate Growth Officer Olivier Gantois, noting that deforestation is responsible for 17% of climate change emissions. “We believe that one of the best solutions to fight climate change is planting trees. And to get to big volumes planted we need to use technology to automate it as much as possible.”

Tree-Nation offers companies the capacity to create a digital forest which tracks the number of trees planted for the amount of CO2 offset. Each tree planted is allocated a digital certificate which provides bespoke detail on the type of tree planted, where it has been planted and the benefits to the environment and local community.

Harnessing the power of social networking

The platform includes technical tools to digitally connect tree-planting to business activities like sales or customer loyalty programs. Givers and recipients of trees are able to comment, like and share directly on the tree or project details within Tree-Nation.

Our platform is the first social network that is not based on selfies, or taking pictures, it’s based on planting trees,” comments Gantois. 

Companies love it because they can directly interact with their customers. You can talk to your customers in a different way than on other social networks. The digital tree becomes more real, because although the real tree is very far away and you can’t touch it, you can like, comment and share on your digital tree. It becomes addictive, which is what we want. We want to make planting trees addictive.” 

Tree-planting projects selected by Tree-Nation go through a three-month vetting process to establish the veracity of the project, and what it aims to achieve in terms of environment, social or economic benefit. 

Offsetting emissions through Tree-Nation is one thing, but getting to a point where planting trees and reducing CO2 emissions becomes an integral and permanent part of every action the company and staff take, is another. 

It will get harder as we grow, especially if we expand outside Europe and the travel associated with that,” comments Klahr. “but it’s something we need to keep thinking about internally, and also with our partners.”

 

Kolsquare, a data-driven Influencer Marketing platform, helps brands to optimize each step of their Influencer Marketing campaign with help of data and Machine Learning. The solution facilitates the identification of the right profiles for a campaign amongst a catalog of over 3 million KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), and enables the measurement and performance analysis of each campaign. Kolsquare is a team of thirty experts who accompany you throughout the year in the implementation of your influencer strategies, to help you build effective campaigns and increase your knowledge of the Influencer sector through studies, barometers and enriching insights.