Global company Subak funds NZ climate-focused research for the first time

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Three New Zealand start-ups have received funding from a global accelerator for climate action.

One of the recipients is Dunedin’s The Good Rating, which works to assess the environmental impact of packaged supermarket products.
Photo: Unsplash / Charles Gao

Subak is funding climate-driven, data-centric projects and is the first time funding has been earmarked for projects in Aotearoa.

Recipients include data scientist Clive Pinfold who collects real-time CO2 emissions data in the electricity sector and Dunedin’s The Good Rating, which works to assess the environmental impact of packaged supermarket products.

The third recipient is the Castlepoint-based Blue Carbon service that is investigating the viability of using the ocean to capture carbon.

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Pinfold said New Zealand would not be able to achieve the necessary emissions reduction results if it relied on average national data that was at least two years old to inform investments and maintenance.

His Subak-funded project was intended to show how faster, more efficient and cheaper emission reductions can be achieved with accurate data.

The Good Rating founder Kate Oktay said the not-for-profit wanted to give manufacturers and producers a commercial reason to change.

“Our goal is to be an antidote to greenwashing so that consumers can see which brands are sustainable, and more to the point, which are not. There is a tidal wave of change right now.

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“People don’t want to support products that cause climate change, when there are so many that don’t. And surprisingly, that often doesn’t cost more at the checkout.”

Blue Carbon founder Dr Robert Hickson said global warming is expected to cause the extinction of three out of five of the world’s current species, even with global emissions reduction commitments.

“We think giant kelp is a powerful natural tool to curb this. Trees only store carbon in living organic matter, lowering CO2 for 30 to 100 years,” Hickson said.

“However, giant kelp grows much faster than trees trapping carbon in both living and dead organic matter, releasing organic matter abundantly into the ocean, continuously and indefinitely.”

Unlike fallen trees, which quickly decay back to CO2, the carbon in kelp waste that sinks into deep water sediments is locked up for hundreds to thousands of years.

“This allows an acre of kelp to continue to absorb carbon almost forever, rather than just three to 100 years.”

Funding projects from $22,000 to $165,000, Subak offers a curriculum of business, data, and technical training with the goal of growing ideas into sustainable business.

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