Is the climate crisis really a ‘data problem?’ Yes and no

Many of us have heard this phrase: "The climate crisis is a data problem."

It’s alluring, the idea that if we could just harness company data the right way, we could know exactly how to zero out carbon emissions. It’s also a common thing to say in the halls of the GreenBiz 23 conference, where sustainability professionals and software vendors mingled in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week.

But Kentaro Kawamori — himself chief executive of a climate software firm — wants to reframe how companies think about climate data.

"When we say this generic statement, ‘The climate crisis is a data problem,’ it means a whole bunch of different things," Kawamori said Wednesday during his keynote at GreenBiz 23. "It’s an emissions problem first and foremost. Data is just an asset and a tool that helps us understand and ultimately solve these challenges."

That urgent need to leverage data in service of solutions has given rise to plenty of climate data vendors. The company that Kawamori co-founded, Persefoni, is one of them: It offers its clients a climate accounting software to help them manage and disclose their climate impacts.

Kawamori urged the GreenBiz 23 audience, however, to take caution before getting caught up in the buzz of these technologies. Sure, companies will likely need to hire a few vendors to handle their climate data, but they also might have more ability in-house to tackle this problem than they realize. Because at the end of the day, "climate data" is just enterprise data.

"It’s all the same data sets that sit within our companies, that are either under-utilized, wrongl

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