‘Wood’ you believe it? Irish tech goes carbon neutral

A new social enterprise called Forestry Partners is planning to work with 250 Irish firms to create 25,000 of CO2 offsets and restore 200 acres of native woodland.

Forestry Partners was founded by Irish entrepreneur John Beckett, CEO and founder of e-commerce company ChannelSight, leaders in ‘Where to Buy’ technology for global brands such as Bosch, Philips, Coca Cola and Sony.

This new Dublin-based social enterprise has launched with more than 30 Irish companies already committed including: Version 1, Distilled Media, SoapBox Labs, iCabbi and Phorest.

Beckett is also notable for having been one of the two teenagers who originally built the original Ryanair.com website in the 1990s, kicking off an e-commerce boom and transforming Ryanair into a Europe-wide airliner.

Forestry Partners has a 12-month roadmap to get to 250 Irish partners with the goal of creating at least 25,000 tons of CO2 equivalent offsets and achieving 200 acres of planted or committed trees.

All planting is audited by third party foresters and the results published in accordance with the highest international standards of forestry management and certification. These standards ensure that all forest cover must be permanent, verifiable and additional over what would have otherwise occurred.

Tech fights climate change

“No tech/business community has come together in this way, anywhere in the world,” said Beckett.

“We believe this campaign is the first step to transitioning Ireland to become a global leader in the fight against climate change, led by the private sector in an inclusive, meaningful and enjoyable way while creating a lasting legacy of restored Irish woodlands.”

With Forestry Partners, Irish companies will have access to an online tool which allows them to track and easily understand the emissions they are responsible for.

These emissions are rated with a score and the company provided with a cost to plant woodlands to offset those emissions.

Offsets are purchased and Forestry Partners certifies the off-sets and details the specific woodland planted. Partners will be able to use Irish Tech Goes Carbon Neutral co-branding to promote their participation and can also access educational resources and carbon reduction partner supplier offers.

Social scrutiny around carbon emissions

Forestry Partners launches against the backdrop of increased social scrutiny around carbon emissions, which has the potential of translating into eventual regulation and legal obligations.

According to the 2019 Climate Change Performance Index, Ireland now ranks as the worst performer in Europe in terms of its 2016 Paris Agreement commitments. Ireland also has the lowest level of native forestry in Europe at less than 11pc versus the European average of 40pc, which contributes to major biodiversity-loss and related issues. Ireland is currently losing hundreds of acres of forests per year to deforestation, rather than adding thousands of acres as planned under government afforestation schemes. 

One of the companies signed up to Forestry Partner is Phorest, a software company employing 200 people in Dublin.

Ronan Perceval, Phorest’s co-founder said: “We were excited by the Irish Tech Goes Carbon Neutral idea as soon as we heard about it, and signed up immediately. The team in Phorest is really passionate about the environment and this scheme offered such a straightforward way for our company to have a positive, meaningful impact on climate change, much more so than if we just worked on a project independently ourselves. We’re delighted to support it.”

Gavan Walsh, CEO, iCabbi added: “As innovators in the tech mobility space, iCabbi is keenly aware that sustainability is central to the future of transport, as indeed it is to all business. This being a core part of our mission, we immediately saw alignment with the Forestry Partners’ initiative, and we’re delighted and proud to be part of the community of Doers who are stepping up to support it. Together we can make a real difference.”

SoapBox Labs also partnered with Forestry Partners.

“SoapBox Labs is a mission driven company that aims to make meaningful change happen in the world through our voice technology for kids, as well as through the values we hold dear as a company,” said Soapbox chief communications officer Niamh Bushnell.

“The team at SoapBox cares deeply about the environment and this campaign gives us an easy and transparent way to measure our carbon footprint and offset it on a yearly basis. Getting involved in Irish Tech Goes Carbon Neutral was an immediate “yes” for us”.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 5 November, 2019