ClimateTrade, the Spanish startup that helps companies such as Telefónica, Santander, Cabify or Iberia to achieve climate neutrality and fight against ‘greenwashing’

9th June 2021 by Emma Goring

ClimateTrade is a climate marketplace that helps companies of all kinds to achieve carbon neutrality.

  • ClimateTrade is a climate marketplace that helps companies of all kinds to achieve carbon neutrality. With a presence in Spain, Portugal and the US, its client portfolio includes some of the largest Spanish companies, such as Iberia, Banco Santander or Telefónica.
  • Pioneers in the development of a bond market based on the blockchain, this technology allows reducing the transaction cost between 30% and 40%, and minimizing sales times from more than 2 months to 5 minutes.
  • Although the purchase of carbon credits should not make a company sustainable. “If you are not doing anything and you buy carbon credits, you are paying to pollute,” says Francisco Benedito, CEO and co-founder of ClimateTrade, to Business Insider Spain .

The future passes through climate neutrality. 

The planet cannot allow itself to continue heating up as a consequence, among other things, of emissions released into the atmosphere. Hence, on the European horizon 2050 is erected on the date on which the continent aspires to achieve zero emissions.

Until this is achieved, there is a long road that forces companies to transform or adapt to move closer to climate neutrality. In Spain, according to the comprehensive law to fight climate change, the emissions of the national economy as a whole in 2030 must be reduced by at least 20% compared to 1990.

For its part, European regulations require companies with more than 250 employees to report the impact of their activity on the environment, including their emissions. Some companies need to offset their CO footprint in order not to be considered so negative for the planet, and for this they usually turn to carbon credits .

Through these bonds, implemented from the Kyoto Protocol, companies that exceed the stipulated emission levels must invest in projects of companies that do not pollute , based on the tons of CO₂ exceeded, to mitigate the emissions generated.

By doing so, companies receive a carbon credit certificate proving that compensation for their carbon footprint. Although this market was born in 1997, it has been reborn with the Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal and in general the race for sustainability undertaken in recent years.

But is the carbon credit bond market a real solution to the climate challenge? 

Only if companies invest in projects while working to truly reduce their impact on the environment, according to Francisco Benedito, CEO and co-founder of ClimateTrade, a Spanish platform dedicated to buying and selling carbon credits through blockchain technology.

“If you are not doing anything and then you buy carbon credits, you are paying to pollute,” says the expert. In order to differentiate between companies committed to sustainability from those that only carry out greenwashing , that is, a false green marketing to improve their image , what must be taken into account is the philosophy of the company, what it is doing. , Explain.

Or put another way, seeing that companies actually take steps according to a previous plan drawn up around a neutrality objective.

“As a company I want to be neutral in year X, so I compensate this year, but I continue to do things. Next year I continue to compensate although somewhat less, because I have already invested in making my electricity green, in making my cars electric, in that the computer servers are green … if you still have a trace of your own activity, you compensate it. Then you are doing things well. ”

But “if you are not making any effort to reduce, to make your footprint more efficient and then all you do at the end of the year is to compensate it … then you are not doing it well,” he remarks.

In this regard, he gives examples of certain oil companies “that right now are dedicated to reforesting, but are not making much effort to reduce” while underlining the role of some of their clients such as Iberia or other companies that are not from sectors as polluting as Banco Santander, “which was the first carbon neutral bank in the world last year with us,” he says.

ClimateTrade’s journey began in 2018, the year in which the first version of the platform was launched.

Despite its youth, the Valencia-based startup already has among its clients some of the largest Spanish companies such as Santander, Telefónica, Cabify, Iberia or Correos y Telégrafos , which they “help to choose the best projects” in the to invest “to generate an impact where they generate pollution.”

What ClimateTrade allows, therefore, is to put in contact companies that want to offset their emissions with projects that make it possible. In this way intermediaries are eliminated and transaction costs are reduced, it is like an “eBay or Wallapop” of the carbon market , as they define themselves.

And all this from the innovative use of blockchain technology, which allows ClimateTrade to end the problems that the traditional model of bond trading entailed.

“Until now, what happened in the traditional bond market was that companies would pick up the phone, once their footprint had been calculated, they called a broker and he called a provider, said ‘at what price are you selling me?’ he put in a very important margin and sold it to that company. Normally he sold him what he was interested in selling to him, at the price that he was interested in selling to him, and normally with very high margins, but less for the person developing the project ” Benedito explains.

This technology manages to reduce between 30% and 40% the costs of the transaction and the time used in the sale, which goes from the 2 or 3 months that it took before to five minutes, says the company.

“You no longer need to call a broker, but your sustainability director can buy them directly. We have a showcase and in that showcase you see the project that you like the most, you see all the SDGs that are integrated, you see the legal documents of the project : if it is well generated, where is it generated, what is its price, how many tons are available, do you have videos, a description of the project, etc. “, the CEO lists.

Not only that, obtaining the certification via blockchain also ensures the validity and transparency of the operation. Something that according to Benedito did not always happen in the traditional model, “when those quantities were not canceled in a registry” and sometimes “the same tons were sold several times.”

It was precisely this aspect that led to the creation of the company. Benedito was working at that time in the banking sector, where he developed a 15-year career as a financier. A great connoisseur of the CO mercados markets and an expert in blockchain, he understood that this traditional model of the purchase of bonds collapsed “due to the lack of transparency”, something that technology could solve, at a time when it was expected that these bonds to be reborn again, due to the Paris Agreement and the coming climate tsunami.

It was 2017 and Benedito saw it clearly. “There we have a very important issue,” he said to himself, so he decided to launch himself together with his partner Jose Lindo, current head of Impact, who had worked as an advisor at the United Nations. “Together we devised the depth of the platform,” he says.

“The environment will be the best possible business opportunity until 2050”

ClimateTrade has not only achieved in this short history to have among its clients large companies: among its achievements is having won the UNWTO SDGs Global Startup Competition award, awarded by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for its commitment to the Development Goals Sustainable (ODS).

And it is that beyond the purchase of bonds, its software as a service (SaaS), ClimatetradeGO, allows companies to offer customers the possibility of offsetting the carbon footprint of their products and services during the process.

“Our API allows you to integrate ClimaTrade into any company, app, web … and offset the carbon footprint when your customers buy a product from you,” reveals Benedito.

In this way, he explains, when you buy a flight with Iberia, when they acquire a device on the page of Telefónica or when you take a Cabify, “all this is compensated with ClimateTrade.”

Along these lines, the company wants to go one step further.

“Now what we are going to do is that when you take a Cabify in real time you will be able to measure your exact CO of your journey and at the end of the month as you receive your invoice you will receive a certificate of your compensated carbon footprint”, reveals.

In its short history, the company already has a presence in Spain, Portugal and the US, where they landed in January this year and which they consider to be “a very important market.” “The US is now waking up to this whole issue and we have to take advantage of the advantage we have,” the executive emphasizes.

This commitment to the planet assumed by many of the governments suggests that this will be a sector on the rise for years, from the perspective of the specialist. “The environment is going to be the best possible business opportunity until 2050,” he sums up .