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Practical Magic

New corporate alliance aims to scale climate action, starting with carbon removal

The Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions seeks to provide a clearinghouse for hearing about and evaluating climate schemes and solutions, with an initial focus on options for carbon removal.

diverse hands coming together

I don’t have to tell readers that a dizzying array of initiatives, funding opportunities and technologies are spinning up to help corporations move toward net-zero commitments. Figuring out which ones are worth supporting isn’t for the faint of heart. Who has time to vet them all and still do their day job?

That frustration informs the backstory for the new Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions (BASCS), founded by a who’s-who of mammoth cloud services firms (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Salesforce and Workday) and two mega consumer brands (Disney and Unilever). 

The sustainability teams at these companies often find themselves comparing notes informally, asking for advice on how to structure requests for proposals, account for certain types of carbon credits or whether others know much about certain climate-tech startups. A big part of the BASCS mission: Provide a "central, neutral" clearinghouse for hearing about and evaluating climate schemes and solutions, with an initial focus on options for carbon removal.

"Transitioning to a low-carbon economy demands fundamental changes in the way society, including the private sector, operates and innovates," said Vijay Sudan, executive director of enterprise social responsibility for The Walt Disney Co., in a statement. "Collaborating with other members of BASCS will create opportunity to scale high-quality climate solutions necessary to drive a more sustainable future."

Why do we need another climate alliance? I put that question to a founding member, Max Scher, head of clean energy and carbon programs for Salesforce. "We figured, ‘Let’s have them come to us, so we can compare notes,’" Scher said. "One major goal is not to recreate work that’s already out there." 

Scher likened the effort to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), instrumental over the past five years in helping corporations embrace standardized practices for procuring solar and wind electricity to meet renewable energy goals. BASCS likewise hopes to address challenges such as how to write requests for proposals for carbon removal projects or how to find and qualify quality carbon offsets that represent additional reductions, he said.

One effort that already has the alliance’s attention is the LEAF Coalition, an alliance launched in April by the U.S., Norway and the U.K. to mobilize at least $1 billion in financing for forestry projects. Three BASCS members, Amazon, Salesforce and Unilever, were among the founding corporate participants. Also on its sonar: resources and expertise related to scaling "blue carbon" solutions, an area for which few clear best practices exist, Scher said.

BASCS also includes nonprofit partners Environmental Defense Fund, United Nations Environment Program and World Wildlife Fund; advisory firm BSR is serving as the secretariat.

The organization, which had its "soft launch" in early June, is working out its governance structure so details about elements such as membership requirements and fee structures aren’t yet available, said Berkeley Rothmeier, the BSR associate director directing the project.

BASCS anticipates finalizing those details by September. (Learn more about the game plan during a June 21 webcast.) One thing that is clear, however: BASCS hopes to include as many action-oriented corporations as possible — large and small. "Individually, no matter how large, a company can only do so much," Rothmeier said.

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