Q&A with Andy Howard, CEO of Climate Solutions Exchange
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When Andy Howard teamed up with Sir Edward Millbank to found Climate Solutions Exchange (CSX Carbon) in January 2020, few could have imagined what the world would look like in just a few months. On the eve of its second anniversary, we spoke with Andy, CEO of CSX Carbon, and asked him what the future holds for the CSX team and their plans to help develop a trusted carbon market and deliver land managers a fair return for environmental management. .
What was CSX started for and how would you rate the progress to date?
We are incredibly proud of our progress to date, and with much more to do, the momentum for our business and the need for innovative solutions to the climate emergency from the private sector is accelerating. We started building CSX in January 2020, to help find a way for land managers to use technology to collect and analyze the data needed to provide an accurate measure of carbon sequestration, and provide carbon buyers with a audit trail on this carbon which is genuine and meaningful. Our platform integrates data from satellites, drones and ground truthing to quantify carbon, using cutting-edge technologies such as Drone RGB and LIDAR imaging, as well as terrestrial laser scanning, to provide owners a way to verify their success in carbon sequestration.
CSX is the first company in the UK to make this technology accessible and helps partners make decisions with certainty by providing a verifiable audit trail. So far, current satellite technology has not been able to provide accurate carbon calculations given that it is both weather dependent and limited to resolutions typically 10m and better than 25 cm for data derived from the most expensive satellites. In October we received an initial investment of £500,000 from Maughan Capital which has been invaluable and will help us develop our LIDAR software. It’s been a great year for us and we think we’ll continue to get better and better.
Why did you decide to launch CSX now?
The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union means that it no longer belongs to the common agricultural policy of the EU. This has meant a big change in the regulatory environment for sustainable farming practices, including the upcoming introduction of the Environmental Land Management Scheme to encourage sustainable farming practices. As this new program rewards landowners who use sustainable and environmentally responsible practices, we anticipate demand for technologies such as CSX, which allow landowners to measure their own carbon footprint to improve their access. to the benefits they deserve.
You recently spoke at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26). How did you find the event?
This atmosphere felt like climate change was finally being recognized as the greatest threat facing humanity today, and that technology will be the key to overcoming this threat. It was uplifting to see so many different types of innovation discussed at the conference, which only underscored for me the reality that our current approach to carbon offsetting – which grew out of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 – is no longer suitable for its purpose. The Kyoto Protocol was a good first step in encouraging companies to reduce their emissions, but it was not designed for the level of demand nor for the level of precision that the world needs in its fight against climate change. .
Do you think your model will become more common in the industry as companies realize their need to measure carbon accurately?
CSX technology is naturally positioned for scalability in a market. Over time, we hope to democratize the carbon trading market with affordable and accurate metrics, allowing businesses and landowners to track and improve their positive climate impact.
As we continue to integrate and experiment with new technologies, we believe the opportunities for expansion are strong. We focus very much on market supply rather than demand, which we believe serves businesses better in the long run. Although we are currently focused on the UK, we are already receiving inquiries from territories around the world, and there is no reason to suggest that we could not expand to other markets in time, catalyzing may -to be the adoption of our approach as a new international standard.
What do you think of the news this week where the UN has sounded the climate change alarm bell over the highest Arctic temperature on record?
Rising temperature levels in Siberia and the Arctic region are one of many indicators telling us that we must act now. It is incredible to think that a temperature of 38 degrees centigrade has been recorded in Siberia, a figure that seems more worthy of the Mediterranean. News like this reminds us of the importance of reducing carbon emissions where possible and doing all we can to work together to make our atmosphere cleaner and more sustainable to reverse these devastating effects.
What does 2022 hold for CSX?
We believe the future is indeed very bright, with our platform going live for landowners and land managers in mid-January 2022. Our BEAMS forestry project with the University of Oxford and the Ghent University will increase its activity rate, and we are in discussion with a number of other leading scientific institutions about a similar stream of work for Peatlands. This investment in scientific research results in updates to our existing models. We plan to expand our resources and capabilities in machine learning and AI development, building on our recent partnership with C4DI Northallerton. We hope that 2022 will bring more innovation, investment and development in the ideas we have been working on, in order to start expanding our customer base quickly.