Thirdfort’s route to net zero: How we’re committing to carbon neutrality

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At Thirdfort, we don’t only care about protecting life’s big transactions. Protecting the environment that we all live and breathe in every day has never been more important than at this time in human history. Which is why we’ve committed our business to operate carbon neutral. 

To help us reach that ambitious goal, we’ve partnered with experts Supercritical - a climate software company whose mission is to scale up carbon removal. They help tech companies (like us) to measure and understand their carbon footprint. And more importantly, find ways to reduce and remove their climate impact.

Following our work with Supercritical, we’ve now offset our emissions from 2021 and the first half of 2022 using 100% durable, high-quality carbon removal methods. For context, this amounts to 469 tonnes of carbon removal so far. This is best in class climate commitment and we're proud to have worked with Supercritical to achieve it. But we also know the journey doesn’t end here, and we’ll continue to work towards our net zero target as we grow.

Here’s how it works.

Calculating and reducing our carbon footprint

The Supercritical team calculated our Thirdfort carbon footprint in less than four weeks. This comprehensive step-by-step approach was revealing in so many ways and gave us a clear roadmap for how we can get the balance right.

Supercritical recommended the following reductions: 

  • Switch our offices to renewable energy: Across our sites in London and Manchester.
  • Reuse and repair our hardware: Adopt a more recycle-friendly approach to how we use and reuse our computers and other office devices.
  • Support our team to switch to renewable energy: This included giving our ‘Thirdforters’ advice and help to insulate their homes.
  • Working with our 'Scope 3' suppliers to measure and reduce carbon emissions: In our case, this is mostly applicable to the software partners we work with.

But reaching net zero emissions goes way beyond reductions alone and ‘traditional’ or conventional carbon offsetting. To hit that magic ‘zero’, we’re committing to carbon removal too.

Going beyond offsetting with carbon removal

Carbon removal is radically different to conventional carbon offsetting. The latter means paying someone else not to emit carbon while your emissions remain in the atmosphere. Removal offsets mean directly removing your carbon emissions from the atmosphere, so that you can reach a state of net zero emissions. 

Although removal offsets are typically around ten times the price of conventional offsets, purchasing high-quality, durable removal was important to us because it has two major benefits: 

  1. It removes the carbon we’ve emitted so it stops heating the atmosphere.
  2. It also contributes to the scaling and development of the carbon removal suppliers market, to bring down those costs in the longer term. 

This market needs to scale radically, soon. As a global community, we need to annually remove 10 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2050. For context, around 500,000 tonnes of carbon have been removed so far. With such a long way to go, serious investment and commitment to carbon removal is needed.

How we’re going to get there

We wanted to contribute to this growth and send a demand signal to carbon removal suppliers. Here’s a list of the removals and suppliers we’ve invested with:

  • Biochar (via Freres): A charcoal-like substance made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry waste (AKA biomass). It’s done in a controlled process called pyrolysis that reduces contamination and safely stores carbon. So far, we’ve removed 380 tonnes of carbon using biochar.
  • Enhanced weathering (via UNDO): A process of spreading pulverised and crushed rock on land, which improves soil health and locks away carbon for hundreds of thousands of years. 45 tonnes of our carbon removal is thanks to enhanced weathering.
  • Direct Air Capture (via Carbon Engineering): An early stage technology that involves pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and filtering it out for either storage in geological ‘sinks’ or reuse. We’ve removed 22 tonnes using this method to date.
  • Trees for bridging (via TIST): Counteracting the devastating effects of deforestation by planting millions of trees around the world. To date, 22 tonnes of our carbon removal has come from tree bridging. This is to “bridge” the gap between today and the removal date of the direct air capture credits. We’re funding technologies that are so nascent that they are not fully operational yet, known as “ex-ante” credits: since we want our carbon to be removed from the air today, we’ve used trees to bridge the period until the Direct Air Capture carbon removal takes place. 

We chose this portfolio approach because we wanted to ‘back numerous horses’ in the enormous scaling challenge the carbon removal market is currently facing. This is just the start of our long sustainability journey at Thirdfort, and thanks to our friends at Supercritical, the process has been as simple as it has been enlightening.

We look forward to sharing our progress in the months and years ahead.

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