Last week, we got the chance to connect with Chad Hunter, Co-Founder and CEO of Carbon Insights, a public benefit corporation dedicated to building carbon literacy. With the help of technology, Carbon Insights empowers consumers to understand, reduce, and offset their carbon impact.
In order to get a better understanding of this technology’s significance, let’s get to know Chad:
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
I grew up in upstate New York and have a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Rochester (B.S.) and MIT (M.S.CEP). Perhaps surprising, my first job out of college was at ExxonMobil where I helped improve their refining unit operations by reducing energy consumption and saving money. While I knew I wanted to work directly in sustainability, my time working in an operations-focused environment taught me how I could look at nearly any job through a sustainability lens and take actions that are both good for the environment and bottom-line economics. I then worked in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory as a systems analyst and team lead helping model the emissions, economics, and deployment of electric vehicles and refueling/recharging infrastructure. I also completed the EDF Climate Corps fellowship at Bird where I developed a life-cycle assessment modeling framework for their electric mobility platforms.
Currently, I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Carbon Insights which provides a cloud-based API-as-a-service for translating payment data into environmental impacts for any financial institution (credit card company, bank, etc.) to use to empower their users with actionable environmental impact data.
What is a fun fact about you?
I have never drank coffee.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
We are at an inflection point in the world’s sustainability journey: the IPCC’s first working group’s sixth assessment clearly demonstrates that humans are both causing the climate crisis and have the power and time (for now) to reverse it. If we do not take the urgent action we need, we may hit tipping points that cause irreversible damage to the planet. I believe we have the ability and technology to make a real positive change today while simultaneously improving our way of life across the globe.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
My company is focused on empowering people to understand their carbon footprint, how to reduce their environmental impact, and how to live more sustainably. This technology is in the very early stages, and I think in 10 years, nearly every individual across the globe will understand how their purchases, including what they purchase and what companies they purchase from, impacts their carbon footprint. People will be able to easily differentiate brands that are more sustainable from those that are less and help push society towards a net-positive world.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Think about your own personal carbon footprint and how you can reduce it. What type of food do you eat? Where does your electricity come from? Do you drive or fly a lot? If you eat a lot of meat or dairy, consider moving towards a more plant-rich diet or finding brands that use regenerative agriculture to drawdown carbon while raising animals. For electricity, see if your utility provider has any green electricity options. They likely have different options that are nearly the same price you pay right now, sometimes cheaper. And if you drive a lot, are there ways to cut back on driving by combining trips or walking/biking at times? All of these options will significantly help reduce your footprint and you can help encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to take the same action!
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