Unlocking sustainability: Our journey to decarbonising transport and logistics

18 months ago, we launched Pledge with the announcement of our $4.5m seed funding round. We intended to leverage our experience of building and scaling leading fintech products to develop software-first solutions that help solve the climate crisis. Since then, the global climate crisis has continued to worsen — time is running out, and it’s more apparent now than ever.

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Latest reports on the state of the climate reiterated this urgency, making it clear that we’ll likely hit the 1.5C temperature increase by as early as 2027. The most recent IPCC report highlighted that removing carbon from the atmosphere will be pivotal in getting the planet back below this critical target by 2050.

At Pledge, we’re still steadfastly committed to our mission of building tools and infrastructure that accelerate businesses’ transition to net zero. And we’ve been working hard to make that happen. Over the last 18 months, we’ve built an industry-leading carbon emissions platform that’s been accredited by the Smart Freight Center for its adherence to the GLEC framework — the only globally recognised methodology for measuring and reporting emissions in the logistics supply chain. We’ve also developed an offsetting and carbon removals marketplace that connects customers with high-quality, verified carbon removal projects from around the globe to help businesses remove their historical and residual emissions.

We’re not slowing down — we recently announced our Series A funding round to the tune of $10m. This funding is not only a massive show of confidence from our investors, but it’s also meaningful equity to enable us to continue building a product that will make a real difference to businesses and the planet.

Every business will need to become a sustainability business

Back in October 2021, we spoke of the need to create a solution akin to embedded finance, but for sustainability — we called it "embedded climate". Pledge is applying fintech principles and our team’s experience of building some of the world’s most successful financial services products to the carbon market, creating infrastructure for climate action for businesses of all sizes.

Demand for accessible and accurate climate solutions is only increasing, driven by regulatory pressure and sustainability reporting requirements, growing climate change awareness and other corporate motivations. The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is an example of the type of regulation that will catalyse this demand in Europe. Similar regulations are being introduced in the UK while the SEC in the US is also likely to follow suit.

Both financial services and carbon markets have faced accessibility and transparency challenges, making it difficult for current players and newcomers to navigate these complex systems. Additionally, the high costs and manual processes associated with measuring, reducing, reporting and removing carbon emissions have hindered smaller companies from taking action. Pledge aims to address these obstacles and facilitate climate action in an accessible and scalable manner.

Finding our vertical focus

Inspired by the urgency of the climate crisis, we challenged ourselves with a resounding question: “How can we use our collective experience and expertise to create a solution that unlocks the maximum impact on the climate crisis in the shortest time span?”

Answering this question led us to start fervently researching the highest emitting industries and deciding to focus on a single vertical to begin with: transport and logistics — one of the planet's highest emitting industries with rippling effects. 

Transport and logistics generates 11% of the world’s total GHG emissions. For most companies, supply chain emissions make up over 70% of their total carbon footprint. Tackling transport and logistics emissions not only cleans up the logistics sector but also has a knock-on benefit for businesses that rely heavily on the movement of goods. Coupled with our idea of embedded climate, we decided to develop the most accessible solution on the market for this industry to unlock credible climate action at scale.

Why transport and logistics needs sustainability SaaS
  • Fragmentation of data: Freight shipments are typically handled by several industry players in a complex ecosystem of shippers, ports, warehouses, freight forwarders — the list goes on. Navigating this complex ecosystem to embed emissions calculations, tracking and removal into transport and logistics is a massive challenge, further exacerbated by data connectivity and interoperability issues between stakeholders. 

  • Lack of data standardisation: Varying naming conventions, data structures and communication methods among the different operators limit the seamless integration and exchange of (emissions) data in the wider ecosystem. As a result, carbon emissions data suffers from integrity issues and footprints are often inaccurately calculated. The absence of standardisation typically makes it difficult for actors in transport and logistics to take climate action. By providing a product based on an accredited scientific methodology, our objective is to simplify tracking and reducing carbon emissions to drive reduction throughout the supply chain.

  • There’s value in emissions data: Coupled with impending climate disclosure requirements, shippers face increasing pressure from investors, employees and consumers to report their emissions, including in the supply chain. This has a knock-on effect on their suppliers — in particular those with high emitting services like freight transport. As a result, sustainability credentials, such as emissions reporting and reduction options, are becoming increasingly common in logistics tenders. For freight forwarders, there’s an opportunity to add value to their services and gain a competitive advantage by meeting this customer demand. Pledge provides this value to the industry.

Unlocking transport and logistic's potential

Freight forwarders are the connectors in the transport and logistics industry, coordinating the movement of goods across carriers and other logistics service providers in the value chain on behalf of shippers. With access to end-to-end shipment data — although at times with varying degrees of granularity — freight forwarders and other logistics service providers hold the key to measuring and tracking carbon emissions within supply chains — the first step in unlocking meaningful climate action.

Our main focus is to empower these stakeholders and their customers to understand their carbon footprint at the most granular level possible, reduce it through analytics, insights and insetting solutions, and finally remove their unavoidable and historical emissions through our dedicated offsetting marketplace.

We continue to provide access to trustworthy and verified carbon offsets through our curated marketplace

In addition to our emissions measurement and reporting platform, we’re continuing to build out our carbon removals and offsetting marketplace. We’re constantly on the lookout for new, verified projects that add variety to our platform — but we’re also keeping abreast of changing standards in the verification of offsetting projects.

The latest round of funding will enable us to continue to build this product while breaking new ground by offering carbon insetting solutions on our marketplace.

What’s next for Pledge?

While we’ve made significant progress in our mission to accelerate businesses’ transition to net zero over the past 18 months, we’ve also realised the complexities and scale of the problem require industry-specific solutions. That’s why we believe taking a vertically-focused approach to one of the highest emitting industries globally can have long-lasting, impactful and rippling benefits for both businesses and the planet — and be key to unlocking gigaton-level carbon reduction and removal potential. 

Our recent Series A funding is a testament to our commitment and will fuel our ongoing efforts to make this difference. Our goal is to create a globally trusted platform for measuring, reducing, reporting and removing emissions in transport and logistics. In doing so, our hope is to contribute to a more sustainable future and continue our mission, collaborating closely with the industry and expanding our team to deliver innovative products that drive sustainability and support our customers' decarbonisation objectives.

Learn more about Pledge and how we’re helping make transport and logistics more sustainable by signing up to our platform or contacting us.