Dmitry Aksenov is feeling nervous as the clock counts down to COP 28, the latest international climate change summit due to begin in Dubai on 30 November. Invited to work with world leaders, diplomats and businesses at the summit, he knows how much there is to do. “It’s a chance to be part of the negotiations but there is so much at stake,” Aksenov says.
However, as the co-founder of Net0, a business he launched 18 months ago with his partner Sofia Fominova, Aksenov believes he can be an important part of the solution. “Our core mission is to confront the biggest challenge facing the world today,” he says. “We think the most powerful technology available can have a huge impact.”
The technology in question is artificial intelligence (AI). Net0 has built an AI engine that helps organisations to measure their carbon emissions with far greater accuracy than ever before – and then to begin reducing those emissions in the most cost-effective ways possible.
Aksenov’s track record suggests Net0 should be taken seriously. Forbes first met him in 2016, when he featured in our 30 Under 30 Europe list, a collection of young business leaders and entrepreneurs to watch. At the time, Aksenov was building DigitalGenius, an early adopter of AI solutions that raised more than $25 million under his stewardship.
Seven years on – and following his exit from DigitalGenuis – Net0 is focused on a problem not widely understood: when organisations talk about their carbon emissions, they are making very rough estimates for most of their activity. “They can get good figures on energy consumption, but almost everything else is a guess,” says Aksenov. “Their ambition is to reduce their emissions, but they don’t even have the data to know where they are starting from.”
This not only undermines organisations’ attempts to develop a credible emissions reduction plan, but also poses potential regulatory problems. In most countries and industries, there is not currently any requirement for organisations to seek independent audits of their emissions claims, but this is set to change, with governments and environmental campaigners increasingly keen to scrutinise reporting more closely. That could lead to some embarrassing revelations for organisations currently operating on the basis of their best guesses.
Net0’s solution therefore seeks to measure emissions with far more accuracy. Using AI, its platform automatically captures data from all the systems and vendors that the organisation uses – including its entire supply chain – to provide real-time monitoring of its emissions. The data is combined on a single dashboard that gives the organisation a continuous read-out of its carbon emissions performance.
At the same time, the platform runs thousands of simulations on behalf of the business, evaluating the impact of potential initiatives in terms of both emissions reduction and financially. The goal is to help the organisation to find the low-hanging fruit – the changes that it can make that will both reduce its carbon footprint and support profitability.
“We deliver for the CFO as well as the sustainability team,” Aksenov explains. “We say, let’s identify the climate solutions for your organisation that also create a positive financial impact; then, over time, we can see how the picture changes and make further recommendations – as new technology emerges, for example.”
While most organisations see emissions reduction as a potential cost for their business, Aksenov insists there are plenty of hugely beneficial changes they can make that will actually boost the bottom line. “Simple changes can drive big savings,” he argues. Energy efficiency is one obvious example – organisations able to reduce their energy consumption will pay lower bills as well as emitting less carbon. Net0’s technology therefore aims to identify the energy efficiency initiatives that will deliver the biggest improvements.
As well as measuring emissions more accurately and putting a roadmap for reduction in place, Net0’s third selling point is that it provides organisations with the material they need to report on their performance. This should enable better disclosure to groups such as investors and regulators – as well as to other audiences that are increasingly demanding more transparency on environmental performance, including customers and employers.
It’s a value proposition that has caught people’s attention. Since launching the business in February 2022, Aksenov and Fominova have signed up more than 200 organisations that are now implementing its technology. That includes seven government clients – Monaco, for example, is using Net0 to measure the impact of tourism on its emissions.
The business is largely self-funded, though Aksenov says it has already broken into profit. A fund raise is planned for next year. That would support further expansion into the US, with Net0 planning to open a New York office in addition to its existing offices in London, Monaco and Dubai.