18 Aug 2022

How more highly accurate carbon data will help increase positive environmental impact.

Carbon credits (also referred to as carbon offsets) have been controversial in recent years, with conflicts of interest leading environmental campaigners to doubt offsetting’s accuracy and effectiveness. Out of this uncertainty, one shining light for precision and integrity has emerged: Sylvera.

London-based Sylvera is the leading carbon ratings provider, trusted by corporate sustainability leaders, traders and exchanges worldwide.

The background to carbon credits

Globally, land use is a huge net emitter of CO2, responsible for 23% of the planet’s emissions. Yet it’s possible to make it a carbon sink instead, with the potential to remove 20 years’ worth of CO2 at 2018 levels – buying time to develop the technology that can deliver complete decarbonisation.

Voluntary carbon markets (VCM) have a critical role in achieving this, and the accurate, verified data from Sylvera is crucial to the success of VCMs.

Negative impacts

Previously, businesses such as energy companies and airlines have rushed to reduce their environmental impact and bolster their green credentials by buying into carbon offsetting schemes which later proved to have minimal positive impact. VCMs are unregulated and many offsets don’t deliver on their targets. This uncertainty has helped fuel apathy, reducing the potential to genuinely offset carbon at a time when it’s urgently necessary.

Sylvera’s response

In contrast, Sylvera uses a high-tech, highly accurate process to score nature-based offset projects. It gathers geospatial data every time a satellite passes over a carbon project site, collecting it more frequently and precisely than other methods, and analysing it using AI.

The data is available via a web platform and application programming interface (API) and shows project performance and quality ratings, presented in a graphic, accessible way that allows quicker, simpler assessments and carbon investment decisions.

Sylvera does not sell carbon credits. It’s determined to remain entirely impartial, to ensure absolute trust in its results.

Enabling effective decisions

Sylvera’s tech-driven platform allows corporate sustainability teams and traders to make worthwhile, effective carbon credit purchasing decisions. It also helps project developers analyse project viability faster and more efficiently, to better meet market demand.

Ultimately, Sylvera helps purchasers pick the best carbon credits, so they avoid wasting money on bad investments that could undermine their environmental programme and put their reputation at risk. In effect Sylvera is carrying out the due diligence element for them. While it’s not the only carbon ratings agency, Sylvera is acknowledged as the most accurate and independent.

Helping Sylvera ramp up

Taylor Vinters started working with Sylvera around two years ago, following an introduction from a mutual contact at Entrepreneur First.

We recently acted for Sylvera on their Series A Investment round, raising an impressive $32m. The round was co-led by Index Ventures (Sylvera’s existing lead investor) and Insight Partners. Other participants included Local Globe, Salesforce Ventures and impact driven Revent VC.

Sylvera will use the funding to ramp up their expansion into covering all types of carbon credits, not just forest carbon. By further investing in technology and increasing the accuracy of their datasets, they plan to scale up their global ground-truthing campaign. This calibrates and validates their satellite estimates of biomass by capturing huge quantities of precise, verifiable ground-level data. Crucially, they will also be investing in talent with the goal of expanding their technical experts across all teams.

Charlie Lyons-Rothbart and Matthew Shannon worked with Sylvera, providing support on the commercial and corporate side of the funding round.  We also previously advised Sylvera on its $5.8m Seed investment round. In total, the 2020-founded start-up has now raised $39.5 million.

Our Complex Transactions team led by Ashley Williams has also helped Sylvera with their commercial and technology matters, including negotiating deals with some of their partners and customers, including Climate Impact X.

A better chance to reach CO2 targets

By increasing transparency and accuracy, Sylvera is helping to push investments towards the carbon projects that actually deliver. Sylvera wants to ensure that companies buying into projects know exactly how much carbon they’ve genuinely offset – so they can reduce their emissions accordingly. Working with true figures rather than hopeful estimates gives global society a better chance of reaching its emission targets.

Client Partner Ashley Williams said: “At Taylor Vinters, we’re pleased to have played a part in this and Sylvera is the epitome of the type of clients we love to work with. Even more than helping Sylvera to shape a better world, it’s helping them and the organisations they serve to save the planet.”

If you have an innovative business that intentionally creates positive and measurable social and/or environmental impact alongside financial returns, read how we can help your impact venture to secure funding, protect valuable IP, negotiate commercial agreements and on-board impact-aligned staff.