Treefera says it wants to transform the accuracy, transparency, and efficiency of the carbon offset industry with AI and data from a trillion trees across the globe. It just received a vote of confidence in the form of a €2mn seed round led by Concept Ventures and participation from the CTO of Intel, among others.
The practice of voluntary offsetting has faced criticism from various quarters, with concerns ranging from it being simply inefficient to directly detrimental to the quest for decarbonisation as a whole. Nonetheless, it is big business.
Most companies touting net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, 2040, or 2050 are factoring offsets into the equation. In 2021, the carbon offsetting market was worth nearly $2bn. With ESG pressure on companies from investors increasing, predictions say it could grow to as much as $40bn by the end of the decade, and hit a staggering $250bn by 2050.
At the same time, trust in carbon offsetting has taken a massive hit over the past couple of years — and not without cause. Not all carbon credits are created equal. The cheaper they are, the more useless they are likely to be.
A study published last month in the journal Science found that only 5.4 million, or 6%, of a potential 89 million offset credits were linked to additional carbon reductions through preserved forests. The vast majority originated from projects that barely reduced deforestation.
Treefera was founded in 2022 by Jonathan Horn, theoretical physicist and former Managing Director at J.P. Morgan, and Caroline Grey, former CCO at UiPath.
Its AI driven platform measures, monitors, and verifies (a practice known as MRV) carbon credits. Having mapped a trillion trees globally covering jurisdictions (countries and large regions) as well as 197+ registered forest projects, the startup says it has an unprecedented repository of data.
It then applies a combination of deep learning models and novel AI search techniques to determine the accuracy with which carbon credits are priced, based on information on things such as tree health and carbon sequestration and other important “reversal risks,” including fire, flood, and drought.
“Treefera’s transformative AI tool has the power to revolutionise the world’s approach to forest data and conservation,” Horn said. “Our platform enables instant analysis and insights of carbon offset projects, and critically allows easy integration of that trusted data into our clients’ analytics environment through an API.”
The company, based out of London and New York, says it will use the raised capital to enhance platform capabilities, expand its team, and extend its global market presence.