Salesforce aspires to democratize the process of buying carbon credits. With a new platform scheduled to debut next month at netzero.salesforce.com, businesses will be able to buy carbon credits from a trusted partner with a third-party verification.
The Net Zero Marketplace will officially launch in October at the VERGE 22 conference in San Jose, representing 90 projects from project developers Climate Impact Partners, Cloverly, Lune, Pachama, Native, Respira International and South Pole. Calyx Global and Sylvera will provide the third-party ratings using independent verification methodologies. The platform is built on Salesforce's Commerce Cloud, which integrates directly with the Salesforce Net Zero Cloud sustainability management software application. But even businesses that are not customers of Salesforce can purchase credits through the platform, the company said.
"What we're aiming to do with the marketplace is create something of a first of its kind in terms of openness, transparency," said Patrick Flynn, senior vice president of sustainability at Salesforce. "Where everyone — individuals, organizations — can take action by supporting carbon projects."
According to Nina Schoen, director of product management for the Net Zero Marketplace, the marketplace will act as an educational platform, inspiration for corporations, marketing for ecopreneurs and a collaboration network between projects and buyers. Purchasers can pay for the credits directly on the website and Salesforce will take a 1.5 percent transaction fee.
Many critics think credits are the easy way out for corporations to claim net-zero emissions instead of making the hard reforms inside their operations and supply chains. Platforms such as the new Net Zero Marketplace could make the process even easier for businesses, potentially making it easier for them to delay meaningful action.
Flynn emphasized that carbon credits should be the final step in a carbon emissions reduction plan and said that the marketplace will reflect this with information and education for buyers highlighted on the platform.
"I don't think it makes sense to hold back for fear of bad actors," he said. "We need to hold bad actors accountable, but withholding a tool that can be usefully deployed doesn't seem like the right strategy. Give access and transparency and tools to everyone, and then celebrate those who use those tools really effectively and coach those who need to learn about how to use them more appropriately."
Opening up carbon credits to this type of ecosystem is a double-edged sword. High-quality credits are already in short supply, and the ease of service of the marketplace will increase demand from smaller companies that previously did not have the bandwidth to make purchases on their own. But Salesforce hopes that an increase in demand will lead to an increase in supply for high-quality projects.
"Like any nascent market experiencing incredibly rapid growth, I anticipate a bullwhip effect of supply and demand mismatch for the next handful of years," Flynn said. "All of it is needed. All of it is inevitable, and all of it needs to happen faster. The most important thing is that market maturation [of carbon credits] happens as fast as possible."