Data critical to avoiding intentional or unconscious greenwashing, says WePower

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As businesses compete in the race to net zero, in many instances bold sustainability commitments are not backed up with real data and can lead to either intentional or unconscious greenwashing. 

Digital Nation spoke to Kaspar Kaarlep, co-founder and chief technology officer at WePower about the importance of metrics in meeting net-zero or carbon neutral targets.

“Digital maturity of infrastructure today is at a level where pretty much everything that comes into the business is in one way or the other metred,” says Kaarlep.

“And on the other end, we are encouraged by stakeholders, community, by everybody in different means, to have comprehensive sustainability targets, comprehensive plans to move towards sustainability.”

Kaarlep believes that companies are introducing a strategic risk in the oversimplification of these environmental issues, leading to inaccurate messages put forward by companies presenting a misleading representation of their data.

“There are companies who are deliberately, unconsciously greenwashing or literally just doing the least possible… but I feel like most companies and most people I’ve met at least, they’re well-intentioned people who are trying to manage the complexities of keeping the business economically viable.”

WePower’s Insight platform enables businesses to trace any form of energy to its source, helping businesses to understand and track their overall impact and make improvements in alignment with their sustainability commitments.

“It's really a data analytics architecture, which we track, we measure, we model every input that we have available, their corresponding emissions, and we then track those inputs, without losing the granularity to the endpoints, the outputs that our business is producing,” he says.

The system is designed to package and interact with data, in a way that maximises value to the stakeholders.

It also utilises a public blockchain, allowing for the introduction of self-certification into sustainability schemes.

While businesses may make bold and loud sustainability commitments, under current regulatory frameworks, there is no legal requirement asking them to outline how they they plan to achieve them.

“In Australia, there's no real legal requirement to really disclose anything like that. So you know, there's an onus on company directors to accurately report non-financial performance indicators. And sustainability is one of those things,” says Kaarlep.

Kaarlep also explains that tracking this data is crucial for organisations who are undertaking large transformation projects, which may see the changes along the way to various business leaders.

“The issue is that you have visionary leaders and visionary people who come in and push sustainability initiatives,” he says.

“But in a decade long process you also have those handovers, in large companies handovers which are not based on a properly set up digital framework that ensures data quality and trusted, you know, data management are a problem.”

“You're not going to get away with coming back in five years and saying, sorry, you know, I'm going to change my target. It's really important to get this right from the beginning.”

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