This article features an interview with Lubomila Jordanovafounder and CEO of Plan A. Jordanova will speak at Applied Sciences Conference, which will take place on 15 & 16 June in Amsterdam. If you’d like to join the event (and say hello to our editors!), we’ve got something special for our loyal readers. Use the promo code READ-TNW-25 and receive a 25% discount on your business pass for TNW Conference. See you in Amsterdam!
In 2016, while on a surfing trip in Morocco, Lubomila Jordanova experienced a chance moment that would change the course of her life. That moment came not in the course of a wave, but ashore.
“When I looked around, I saw litter everywhere. In the end, I spent that week cleaning the beach and realized that I actually had no knowledge of pollution and climate change,” the Bulgarian entrepreneur tells TNW. “So after my journey, I embarked on a year-long journey to educate myself.”
At the end of that year, Jordanova quit her corporate job as an investment banker to forge a path as a climate technology entrepreneur. “I think it was an incredibly irrational decision,” she says. “I worked for a really successful fintech company at a time when the industry was exploding.”
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But Jordanova was convinced of that she had a moral obligation to devote her skills and knowledge to the climate cause. In 2017, she founded Plan A, an AI-powered carbon accounting tool that helps companies measure, reduce, and report carbon emissions. CO2 emissions.
“I was basically on my own,” she says. “Climate technology wasn’t even a thing then and I had no experience as an entrepreneur. I learned a lot in those first two years, lessons that now help me succeed as a founder and CEO.”
Out of the plethora of climate technology solutions, Jordanova chose carbon accounting because she believed companies lacked the necessary tools to accurately quantify their environmental impact, hindering progress towards a more sustainable economy.
The “key magic” behind the platform, Jordanova says, is an algorithm that collects up to 20 million data points each month and automatically prescribes a list of actions a company needs to take to reduce its footprint. These actions include improving energy efficiency, sourcing goods from more sustainable suppliers and, especially for financial institutions, making climate-friendly investments.
Jordanova has assembled a 100-person team of leading climate scientists and developers to design and manage the platform, which aims to make carbon accounting more accurate, robust and, well, accountable.
So far plan A has been taken over by BMW, Deutsche Bank, N26 and the European Commission, among others. However, the company does not partner with coal or oil and gas companies.
As the world warms, the pressure on companies to go low carbon is increasing. But measuring a company’s footprint is far from easy. The fragmented and non-standardized nature of carbon accounting methods hinders accurate measurement and transparency when tracking corporate emissions.
In addition, most companies in the EU, except the largest those, are not required to report on scope 3 emissions – which include all indirect emissions beyond a company’s scope, such as those from suppliers. However, this scope typically represents the largest portion of a company’s total emissions.
Not reporting scope 3 emissions therefore gives an incomplete measurement and can encourage greenwashing, says Jordanova. “If companies market their goods as sustainable without fully accounting for their emissions, they risk misleading consumers and fueling unsustainable consumption patterns,” she says.
This is how fast fashion companies came into existence under fire in recent years for falsely labeling products as ‘recyclable’ or ‘sustainable’ while masking the true impact of these products in the supply chain.
“Climate risk is business risk.
Inaccurate carbon accounting isn’t just an incentive for greenwashing either; it can also negate the company’s real efforts to go low carbon. Without accurate measurements, companies cannot accurately reduce emissions or accurately report these reductions to customers, partners and shareholders.
“We want to run Carbon accounting from business headaches to actionable opportunities,” says Jordonova.
By automating the process with AI, Plan A aims to eliminate the human error associated with manual carbon accounting methods, which often rely on spreadsheets and manual calculations. All data is traceable in the platform, in an effort to improve transparency and accuracy.
Importantly, the platform is aligned with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the international standard for carbon accounting, and with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which provides decarbonization targets based on the goals of the Paris Agreement to reduce global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
For Jordanova, transparent and accountable carbon accounting, aligned with the best science, just makes business sense. “Climate risk is business risk, and anyone who ignores the writing on the wall is left behind,” she says.
While there is still a long way to go on the road to a net-zero economy, Jordanova is optimistic about the future. “I feel like things are bubbling,” she says. “There is a lot of excitement in this space and companies we work with are showing a genuine interest in changing their practices. Let’s hope the momentum picks up even more.”
Lubomila Jordanova is one of many tech stars speaking at the TNW conference on June 15 and 16. Use the promo code READ-TNW-25 and receive a 25% discount on your business pass for Applied Sciences Conference.