Cork-based AI platform aims to help companies meet climate goals

20 Oct 2021

Future Planet co-founders Ingrid De Doncker and Donal Daly. Image: Michael O’Sullivan

Future Planet’s platform aims to help companies track their carbon footprint and plan climate targets faster.

An Irish-founded tech initiative is using AI to help businesses manage their sustainability goals and impact on the climate.

Future Planet, co-founded by Irish software entrepreneur Donal Daly and sustainability expert Ingrid De Doncker, is a cloud-based platform that aims to replace traditional sustainability consultancies by doing the same job faster and at a cheaper cost.

Future Human

“Businesses have a crucial role in meeting the net-zero target by reducing their own emissions,” said Daly. “Almost 70 of Ireland’s largest companies have publicly signed the Low Carbon Pledge, committing to recording and reducing their carbon footprint.”

Launched today (20 October), the Future Planet platform comes just before the Government sets out new carbon budgets for industries in Ireland and ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26.

The conference, to be held between 31 October and 12 November, is expected to echo much of the concern raised by the UN’s climate science group in August, spelling changes for the business sector.

“Tighter mandatory restrictions for businesses on emissions are inevitable. If not outlined at the upcoming COP26, they will be developed in the near future,” Daly added.

Corporate climate action

Cork-based Future Planet said its AI software has synthesised 30 sustainability challenges faced by companies, with the aim of providing a simplified structure for businesses to follow. It includes data from the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Reporting Initiative and other global standards.

“The challenge for many businesses is that they see corporate climate action as being both costly and complicated,” Daly said. “Our mission is to make it easier for companies to build a clear roadmap that will help them define and achieve their sustainability targets while delivering their commercial goals.”

The team has also developed an app called Personal Carbon Footprint. Available for free on iOS and Android devices, the app helps employees working from home to assess their own carbon emissions.

De Doncker, who is a lecturer in procurement and supply chain management at University College Cork, said that Future Planet’s platform aims to help business leaders who are trying to deliver sustainability projects but struggling because of a lack of time or knowledge.

“Through assessment, individual journeys and reporting, the platform discovers a company’s sustainability maturity, calculates a score, and builds an instant report to create a transformation plan,” she said. “This lets all stakeholders know the actions they need to take to improve and meet their targets.”

Cool Planet CEO Norman Crowley, who recently suggested data centres can be part of the solution to Ireland’s energy crisis, called Future Planet’s approach “unique” and said it recognises that reducing emissions doesn’t necessarily mean reducing profits. “In fact, it shows that the opposite can be true by using AI to help a business grow while reducing its impact on the planet.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic