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At Watershed, The Key To Lowering Emissions Is In The Supply Chain

Running a sustainable business with an eye on lowering carbon emissions requires an approach that goes well beyond the walls of the business itself. You also need to consider the environmental impact on customers and suppliers. This is where things can get tricky – tracking the carbon footprint of the entire supply chain, from the source of the raw materials to the end user.

Photo Courtesy Watershed

Large corporations can hire their own environmental experts to oversee the process. But smaller companies with limited  budgets often depend on third-party expertise. Among the companies filling the void is Watershed, a San Francisco-based startup whose software platform helps clients plan, implement and run climate programs.

With Watershed’s solutions, customers can measure their carbon impact throughout the supply chain, develop strategies to reduce it and track their progress internally and against industry standards.

The company’s mission is to help customers cut their emissions by an aggregate of 500+ megatonnes of CO2e per year through the decade’s end, or about 1% of current global emissions. One way it plans to do that is through a carbon data engine that analyzes emissions for every line item of a business – a process that integrates tens of thousands of emissions factors. 

In addition to measuring Scope 1, 2 and 3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – which covers the entire supply chain – Watershed has developed state-of-the-art methodologies designed to analyze numerous and diverse emissions categories such as remote work, cloud computing, cryptocurrencies, food, and apparel. 

Photo Courtesy Watershed

Watershed is still a very young company and signed its first customer in early 2020. It was co-founded by Taylor Francis, Avi Itskovich and Christian Anderson, who all previously worked together at Stripe, the payments technology company.

The three weren’t originally hired by Stripe to work on climate. That only happened after Stripe’s leaders became interested in how the company could help battle changes to the climate. Anderson was enlisted to head up the program.

“It’s at Stripe that we learned that companies are really the ones with leverage,” Taylor told CleanTechnica in an interview. “If you want to bend that global carbon graph, the way to do it is to enable organizations, businesses, companies with supply chains, offices, employees, and customers to reduce their emissions. We had a kind of first-hand experience doing that at Stripe.”

The trio decided to start Watershed as a way to “build the toolset that companies need to reduce their emissions in a meaningful way,” he said. 

Stripe is now one of over two dozen customers Watershed lists on its website. Others include Airbnb, Warby Parker, Doordash, ZipRecruiter, and Shopify.

Shopify used Watershed’s tools last year to assess how its workforce – who were suddenly all working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic – would change its overall emissions, Bloomberg Green reported.

Meanwhile, Watershed passed a major milestone in February when it attained unicorn status following a $70 million Series B funding round co-led by venture capital firms Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins. Watershed said it would use the new capital to accelerate hiring and finance the development of its climate solutions tools.

The financing announcement was accompanied by an announcement that Watershed appointed a pair of high-profile advisors to its team: Mark Carney and Christiana Figueres.

Carney is the former Governor of the Banks of Canada and England. He also served as UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance and founded the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ).

Figueres served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She spearheaded the Paris climate agreement and co-founded Global Optimism and the Climate Pledge climate-action-focused organizations.

“With only eight years to cut global emissions in half, it’s time to move from talk to action on solving climate change,” Figueres said in a statement. “I’m excited to work with Watershed to help companies make real changes on the way to net zero.”


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