December 2, 2021

Introducing South Pole

I’ve been at South Pole for almost two months now, so I’m overdue writing about it. It’s been a whirlwind; drinking from the firehose onboarding, and making decisions at the same time. But it’s been fun. Maybe I’ll talk more about life at South Pole another time but for now I want to talk about South Pole as a company. A bit of an info dump. There’s a lot to unpack and understand and this usually helps.

Photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash

High level

South Pole is a climate action based consultancy firm. The mission is ‘climate action for all’. We have experts across the world who work on:

  • Identifying climate-related risks and opportunities
  • Developing and financing low-carbon projects and programs
  • Advising on effective and cost-efficient sustainability programs and policies
  • Building systems to monitor, verify and visualise impact
  • Helping organisations calculate and plan to reduce their emissions

We combine analytical insights with project experience to deploy solutions that aim to transform Energy, Land Use, Cities, Industry, and Use of Water, to be more ‘climate smart’.

Breakdown

How exactly South Pole facilitates all of this can be broken down into three main categories.

Climate projects

South Pole started by focusing on providing and generating ‘high quality’ carbon credits. I’ll do another post on what they are soon but for now suffice it to say that they’re a way of trading in tonnes of CO2 that have either been removed from the atmosphere or avoided being put into the atmosphere. Climate projects generate these credits by changing how industry is done, implementing mitigation and intervention measures and making CO2 reduction or avoidance action the norm.

To oversimplify, South Pole’s consultants would consult on these projects, receive credits from the projects and then sell them on to organisations to offset or ‘compensate’ for their carbon footprint. If you think about this long enough of course you can probably see the problem. It can be seen as a way for organisation to ‘pay to pollute’. The important thing is that the money gets back to the project, so they can continue their avoidance or removal of CO2. More like a way for organisations to sponsor these projects.


Climate solutions

With these expertise from working on projects and working with large organisations, the obvious next step was to advise and consult on how to do these things well. Climate solutions encompasses calculating the complicated footprints that global organisations have, creating strategies and ‘decarbonisation’ roadmaps for those organisations to achieve their goals, advising on renewable energy solutions, and instigating climate neutral applications. Things that organisations can do to reduce their carbon footprint and track it as it goes.

Climate investments

But of course there are organisations and non-profits, and funds, and countries and people all over the world that want to make a difference too. Which is why the third aspect of South Poles main business is working with clients across the private and public sectors to structure and manage pools of capital that is invested in climate action, trying to ensure that the money creates the maximum leverage to boost net-zero emission activities across the world.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Aspirations

Since 2019, and really since Greta Thunberg became an international presence, the demand for South Poles services has increased. Governments, companies, and people are becoming more ‘climate conscious’, every day there are more people trying to do what they can and learn how to do more. With summits like COP26 and groups like ‘extinction rebellion', the issue is not going away.

But making real change and actually acting on these things is hard. It requires powerful people to actually care, and to make things happen. There is a risk of what’s called ‘Green washing’, where people behind these organisations talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. They preach climate action and compliance when not actually doing anything. However, the fact that this is a thing at all is a good indicator. The value of adding ‘Green’ to your ‘brand’ is desirable.

So with all this in mind South Pole wants to help make it easier to act, and have a hand in regulating/verifying the green washers. That means providing the platform from which entities can start their journey to net-zero. It means doing the due diligence to become a ‘trusted advisor’ to validate and certify that organisations are doing what they say they’re doing and to a proper degrees.

The how, is infact, my part. We want to take all of the knowledge and experience and expertise that South Pole has and wrap it up in technology that makes it accessible. South Pole have trialed things like this in the past and it’s proven its value, and so now, we want to simplify it, and use tech to, for lack of a better word, democratise the ability for people, companies and countries to make climate action.

Photo by Danielle Barnes on Unsplash

Summary

So let's see how we get on. South Pole does a lot of things in a busy, and growing market. The name of the game now is scale, as the world starts to pay closer attention and think about actually taking action, how can we, as technologists, climate experts, and a hopefully growing community of enthusiasts, help to make climate action easy.