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Introducing: Climate Solutions Exchange

C4DI Northallerton members Climate Solutions Exchange are transforming the world of carbon trading via cutting-edge technology. As they prepare to hit the global stage at COP26, we caught up with CEO Andy Howard.

While CSX was officially established at the beginning of 2020, co-founders Andy Howard and Edward Milbank have been working together for a decade across a number of business in the rural sector.

CEO Andy tells us: “Over the last 3 years, our forestry business has been responsible for the creation of woodlands totalling 1.75 million trees. We’ve seen the issues that landowners face in bringing carbon from their land-based operations onto the market for trading with businesses looking to fulfil ESG commitments.”

From first-hand experience in carbon trading, the co-founders realised that innovation in this area was long overdue.

Calculating carbon sequestration involved manual data collection from a small sample, using a tape measure. Not only is this inaccurate – it’s also expensive.

As Andy explains, “the system is based on models from the 1950s that were last updated in 1967. The market is inaccessible, because of the processes and costs that are in place for this auditing process.”

Andy and Edward discussed potential solutions with leaders in politics and finance, but were not satisfied.

“They were all trying to solve it from the demand side,” Andy says, “so we thought: how can we solve the problems of the carbon market from the supply side?”

CSX’s answer? Harness the latest in drone technology and Earth Observation to gather data and measure for carbon accurately, rapidly and cost-effectively.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are used to analyse the data gathered, and produce measurements for the number of trees being planted, the size of those trees, and how much carbon is being sequestered. This method can also be used for monitoring peat bog restoration.

CSX then produce an audit trail for carbon sequestration activities, which both the landowner and carbon buyer can view over a dashboard.

“Everything we’re doing is science-based,” Andy tells us. “We’re working with the University of Oxford, University of Gent and leading scientific institutions so that all of our data is analysed from a scientific understanding. We’re also investing in scientific research to update the models for now.”

The evidence-based approach makes measurements more precise for landowners bringing carbon to market, while businesses looking to purchase can verify their claims of carbon neutrality.

CSX contributes to a fair, transparent carbon market, which can play a significant role in cutting emissions. Next week, they’ll be showcasing their work as part of the world’s biggest climate change conversation: COP26.

“We’ve been working with Bunloit Rewilding Project, led by Jeremy Leggett,” says Andy. “They have an event at COP26, so we’ll be presenting at this event about the work we’re doing in monitoring above ground biomass and carbon as part of the rewilding initiative.”

As well as presenting to potential investors, CSX also hope to highlight the major strides that businesses are taking to tackle climate change: “Governments as a whole, internationally, are failing on this. The private sector has stepped up.

You might call that the ‘Greta effect’, in that consumer pressure is forcing businesses to do that. It’s having a driving force that is making businesses change their behaviour and decision-making.”

CSX enables businesses to take responsibility for these changes.

“We need the infrastructure to be in place to demonstrate that businesses are delivering on their ESG commitments,” Andy tells us. “CSX Carbon presents them with the audit trail, to show their customers that they are delivering on what they claim to be doing and what they’re paying for.”

As CSX continues to develop their platform, due to launch at the end of this year, Andy says joining C4DI Northallerton is a great opportunity: “there’s great internet access, and a wider network of technology-based businesses. We want to expand our resources and capability within machine learning and AI development, so having potential partners within the C4DI community is exciting.”

He also highlights the Northallerton hub’s agritech specialism, which perfectly aligns with CSX’s focus: “we come from the supply side of the carbon market, which is the rural, agricultural and forestry sector. For us, it’s absolutely crucial to keep our roots as representing these communities.”

Find out more about Climate Solutions Exchange here:

Find out more about C4DI Northallerton here:

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