What are carbon emissions (CO2 emissions)?
CO2 is recognised as the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. CO2 emissions stem from the burning of fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. In our day-to-day lives, they’re mainly linked to the energy we consume, the things we buy and the vehicles we drive.
What is carbon data and why is it important?
Carbon data is a set of information about carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions that have been recorded and reported that allows measuring, quantifying, and tracking carbon emissions of industries, companies and products.
Having access to carbon data is a starting point in the fight against climate change as it can enable climate action. You can’t change what you can’t measure and this is partly why there is such a large discrepancy between the world’s willingness to act and the actions that have actually been taken. Many consumers and businesses simply don’t know which areas of their consumption/operations could be improved to become more eco-conscious and environmentally sustainable.
If carbon data was available and accessible to every consumer and business globally, this would not only help all of us build our individual and collective net-zero roadmaps but would also allow consumers to put pressure on companies that don’t report their emissions and reward those that do. At Connect Earth, we strive to democratise access to carbon data and empower people to make informed choices.
Read more about the carbon data that we provide below.
What are GHG, CO2 and CO2e?
Greenhouse gases, also known as GHGs, are gaseous compounds that absorb infrared radiation, trap heat in the atmosphere, and contribute to the greenhouse effect. GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases among others.
CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a colourless, odourless greenhouse gas released when fossil fuels burn. CO2 is often used as a proxy for all the other gases mentioned above, but in fact, it’s only one of the gases causing global warming.
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), however, is a way of combining all the GHGs into a single metric, by using their global warming potential values. This allows a much easier comparison of different sources of emissions.
How many kilograms of CO2 is a lot?
Greenhouse gases and carbon footprint in general are measured in kilograms.
In order to keep the global temperature increase below 2 Celsius degrees (in line with the Paris Agreement), each person should reduce their carbon emissions to 191 kg per month, which is 2.3 tonnes per year.
For reference, 1 tonne of CO2 is equivalent to:
- 3.5 months of eating a meat-heavy diet
- 8 months of eating a vegan diet
- 1 flight from Paris to New York
- 83 train journeys from London to Edinburgh
- 500 cotton T-shirts
- 13,987 hours of streaming on Netflix
Having these numbers in mind, each one of us should aim to be climate positive and actively seek to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
What are scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard classifies a company’s greenhouse gas emissions into three scopes which reflect an organisation’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
- Scope 1 emissions: Direct company emissions from sources that are controlled or owned by the organisation (buildings, on-site energy consumption, company vehicles etc.).
- Scope 2 emissions: Indirect company emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat or cooling.
- Scope 3 emissions: Indirect company emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company (transport and distribution, business travel, investments, use of sold products etc.). Scope 3 emissions are the biggest contributor to total company emissions for a number of industries, yet simultaneously, they are the hardest to track and calculate.
Why should businesses care about greenhouse gas emissions?
Businesses see a positive return on investment from developing corporate value chain and product GHG inventories. The GHG standards help companies to:
- Identify and understand risks and opportunities associated with value chain emissions,
- Identify GHG reduction opportunities, set reduction targets and track performance,
- Engage suppliers and other value chain partners in GHG management and sustainability,
- Enhance stakeholder information and corporate reputation through public reporting.
- By following the GHG Protocol, businesses can not only reduce their emissions but also cut costs and meet strategic business objectives.
Learn about the 5 reasons why your business should embrace the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
What is sustainable finance, sustainable banking and carbon finance?
Sustainable finance or green finance is any structured financial activity that’s been created to ensure a better environmental outcome. Sustainable finance allows the financial system to connect with the economy and its populations by financing its agents while maintaining a growth objective. It has become a powerful movement led by regulators, institutional investors and asset managers globally.
Sustainable banking is a practice where banks’ operations and investment strategies are aimed at pursuing profit while prioritising social and environmental sustainability.
Carbon finance is a branch of sustainable finance that involves the use of financial tools, such as Connect Earth’s API technology, to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. Carbon finance gives carbon emissions a price with the aim of reducing the impact greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment.
What’s the difference between green financing and green banking?
In simple terms, green financing is a loan or investment that supports environmentally-friendly initiatives. Green banking, on the other hand, refers to mission-driven institutions that embed environmental sustainability into their services and encourage their customers to reduce their carbon footprint through banking activities.
Why does my business need a carbon footprint solution?
Many consumers and businesses want to act more sustainably but lack access to actionable, high-quality emissions data. With a carbon footprint solution your company can be a catalyst for change and enable your customers to understand how they can reduce their emissions, and as a result, also reduce their financial risk. The first step to reducing emissions is assessing where you are now, and understanding the main emitters in your life/business.
By providing carbon data of each financial transaction, alongside the spending, banks can support and encourage their retail banking clients, corporate clients or retail investors to act sustainably.
Banks and financial institutions can:
- strengthen customer loyalty, build trust and improve brand perception
- increase in digital engagement and digital adoption
- increase in customer acquisition (especially Millennials and Generation Z)
Consumers, on the other hand, can:
- gain awareness towards their climate impact
- track their carbon footprint and monitor its evolution over time
- make a real difference by following personalised recommendations
Learn about why sustainability reporting is on the rise and what your business should know.
What is Connect Earth?
Founded in 2021, Connect Earth is a London-based environmental data company that democratises easy access to sustainability data. With its carbon tracking API technology, Connect Earth is on a mission to empower people to make sustainable choices and bridge the gap between intent, knowledge and action. Connect Earth supports financial institutions in offering their customers transparent insight into the climate impact of their daily spending and investment decisions.
What does your corporate emissions dataset contain?
Our corporate emissions dataset (Connect Hub) has standardized thousands of merchants’ emissions data covering their supply chain. This is also referred to as “merchant-level data”.
In a landscape where the complexities of carbon accounting are apparent, our rigorous methodology standardizes corporate scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. We ensure that time periods and organisational boundaries are a fair reflection of the company that is reporting. This includes:
- Additional information that allows comparison of emissions data (e.g. revenue or employee numbers) is reported for the exact same boundary and time period
- Figures reported being reasonable and not extreme outliers for the type of company that is reporting.
- Reporting methodology aligned with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is the most widely used and trusted greenhouse gas emission accounting framework.
Revenue and employee figures being collected alongside corporate emissions to allow for a more accurate comparison between merchants.
Where do you get the data from?
We collect category-level data through Environmentally-Extended Input-Output Analysis (EEIO) using the latest version of the EXIOBASE database. EXIOBASE is one of the most extensive EEIO models available and enables us to track greenhouse gas emissions throughout global supply chains.
Corporate emissions data:
We collect the latest reports that companies have published, containing emissions data. These may be sustainability reports, ESG reports, CSR reports, and others. We also collect data by companies reporting into Connect Hub.
How do you calculate the CO2e emissions for a transaction?
When a customer makes a transaction, the bank sends us the MCC code/merchant name, price and currency of the purchase. We use these details to provide a CO2e emissions estimate, using our region- and category-specific emissions factors.
To make our emissions factors, we first determine the carbon footprints for various products consumed in each region covered by the EXIOBASE database. Subsequently, we determine the total household/business demand for these products in each region. Emission factors result from dividing these product carbon footprints by the associated product demand in each region. In some cases, we use this data to additionally create custom factors which better represent specific products. Finally, we map these emission factors to MCC codes to allow the estimation of the total emissions associated with a transaction.
Merchant-level data is currently in beta stage.
What is your data’s geographical coverage?
Country coverage of the EXIOBASE database accounts for about 90% of the global gross domestic product.
We are currently covering 49 countries (32 in Europe, 5 in the Americas, 8 in Asia & Pacific, 2 in Africa and 2 in the Middle East).
Corporate emissions data:
Our corporate emissions data covers companies headquartered in nearly 100 countries. The most common countries are the USA and the UK which make up 28% and 12% of our dataset, respectively.
How do you ensure accurate carbon estimates?
We use different methodologies to continuously perform internal audits of our emissions estimates. For example, by comparing results to a bottom-up approach, using LCA calculations.
Do you show the carbon footprint of specific products?
No. Whilst this is part of our long-term vision, the current product-level data is too unreliable and scarce for it to be included in Connect Insights.
To this date, product-level data is either hardly accessible or nonexistent. Many companies still haven’t started reporting their emissions and those that do, often skip scope 3 calculations that are essential to calculate CO2 of their products. Existing carbon data of products can only be an estimate that is not company-specific.
Having said that, we are looking into implementing this as an intermediary solution until more data is available.
What do you do beyond showing consumers their carbon footprint? Is there anything users can do to act on the information they see?
Education & recommendations:
Knowing our individual carbon footprint is only the beginning of the journey to make our consumer behaviour more environmentally sustainable. It’s even more important that we start to act on this knowledge. Through our Connect Insights solution, we empower consumers to analyse, learn and improve their consumption habits based on their carbon data.
On top of that, our spend-data analysis provides customers with personalised recommendations that take user’s profile and spending history into account.
Our clients have the opportunity to leverage our technical partnership with Patch.io and integrate an offsetting feature. This allows users to immediately act on the information they receive in their digital banking app. We do not monetise carbon offsets but this closes the emissions loop and empowers users to take immediate action.
How does Connect Earth work with banks and financial institutions?
We work directly with global banks and financial institutions to integrate our carbon tracking API products onto their digital banking apps or systems.
How does Connect Earth support Green FinTechs?
We own a proprietary database on thousands of companies’ scope 1, 2, 3 emissions as well as other metrics. This database is used by Green FinTechs to create and build their own products. Our vision is to empower the green ecosystem to act on climate change through new inventions and we want to support them.
How does the integration work?
The integration is only API-based. The API integration is easy and accompanied by a well-detailed API documentation that makes the process a lot easier.
How long does the integration take?
The integration takes anywhere between 2-6 weeks, depending on the technology and resource capacity of our customers.
What’s the pricing?
How secure is the API? Do you store any user data?
We do not store any user data nor do we require access to user data (such as personal information, account details, etc.). We fully comply with banks’ and financial institutions’ legal and compliance requirements in terms of data security.