COllaborating On Carbon

Carbon credit trading has sometimes been criticised as counterproductive to the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions on the basis that markets enable large emitters to avoid any meaningful change of behaviour. However trading markets, technologies and legislative frameworks are evolving steadily to answer such questions. Carbon trading and offsetting remain an important part of the mix. This year three of our Food, Fibre & Agritech accelerator teams are working hard on projects to increase transparency and impact around carbon sequestration within indigenous forest.

Current evidence suggests that more than two thirds of New Zealand’s native forest has been lost since human settlement began. This pattern is certainly not unique to our remote islands. Tropical and temperate rain forest ecosystems continue to remain under threat around the world. But now loopholes in local legislation are disturbingly allowing further environmental degradation through extensive plantings of low value pine tree monocultures. So at a time when we need to be remediating our environment and permanently removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to limit increases in temperature, many people feel frustrated at a lack of appropriate solutions.

Switching to renewable energy sources, making fewer car journeys and consuming less imported goods for example are practical steps that everyone can take right now. But the wider global economy is undergoing a significant transition away from carbon intensive activity as green investment grows and polluting industries fall out of favour with investors. Carbon sequestration in the form of native tree reforestation is an exciting approach that could not only help us meet emission targets, but also regenerate long lost natural ecosystems alongside benefiting fresh water through reduced sediment loss.

Fittingly, the support of economic development agency ChristchurchNZ is allowing us to take an ecosystem building approach to our startup innovation community too! So as part of the Food, Fibre & Agritech Supernode Challenge we curated a collaborative discussion session (pictured) with participant teams working on carbon transition problems. Primary Insight co-founder and environmental consultant Andrew Curtis is a man who prefers to describe big problems as opportunities. As a precursor to carbon trading, the company wants to extract and process remote sensing data that validates land afforestation and creates value for rural landowners, he explained.

CarbonZ is building a New Zealand flavoured carbon credit trading platform that will immediately create liquidity for native forest owners within the local framework. Company co-founder and University of Canterbury Honours graduate Finn Ross secured pre-seed funding for the venture from some well known local investors and has an eye on future growth into global markets. The Plant My Carbon crew are looking into electronic tagging of native tree plantations to allow users to visualise exactly where their investments and carbon offsets reside. The team formed through working on MBA projects within the University of Canterbury Business School. Taking an ecosystem approach to growing our startups is all about  bringing together capital, talent and good ideas for a greener future.

#FFA2022 is supported by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum alongside ThincLab Canterbury, University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship and B.linc as delivery partners.