Salesforce is trying to take the complexity out of the push for net zero

Dreamforce 2022
(Image credit: Future)

CRM company Salesforce has announced the launch of its own carbon credits marketplace, with the goal of clearing the path to net zero emissions for businesses of all sizes.

At Dreamforce, the company's annual conference, Salesforce offered a first glimpse of its new Net Zero Marketplace, which is said to make the purchasing of carbon credits simpler and more transparent.

Built atop Salesforce Commerce Cloud, the new marketplace connects buyers with a selection of pre-vetted carbon credit providers, whose projects have been audited by third-party ratings agencies. The providers are involved in projects ranging from forest conservation to tree planting, wind farms and more.

Carbon credit controversy

Although most businesses are united in the drive towards net zero as a means of curtailing the warming effects of industry on the planet, the use of carbon credits to offset emissions is a contentious issue.

Some argue that offsetting simply does not have the desired effect, because it opens the door to greenwashing and therefore disincentivizes the organic reduction of emissions, while others have raised concerns about risks associated with poor-quality, fraudulent and duplicate credits.

However, while Salesforce acknowledges these thorny issues, the company believes it has found the best possible solution, in the circumstances.

Speaking to TechRadar Pro, Ari Alexander, head of Salesforce Net Zero Cloud, explained the company came to the conclusion that society cannot afford to wait for a mature carbon offset industry to materialize, such is the urgency of the situation.

"There are competing ideas of what quality means in the carbon offset market today. It's not for us to determine what quality looks like; there are tens of thousands of experts hotly debating what standardization around quality should look like," he said.

"The role we can play is to shine a light on the market and help it get to a place of increased transparency, trust and quality."

Pressed on the possibility the Net Zero Marketplace might inadvertently help circulate poor-quality or even fraudulent credits used to exonerate companies from the responsibility to take real climate action, Alexander told us it's a case of both not either.

"We feel strongly that companies need to deeply decarbonize and set out aggressive plans to do so. But we also recognize we can't afford to wait for certain actions that are outside their control. The hard truth is that today no company can decarbonize exclusively through its own decision making - it's a very complex value chain."

"We think carbon credits play an important role in taking climate action now, as part of the short-, medium- and long-term planning that goes along with deeply decarbonizing in the places you control." 

Another benefit of the marketplace, argued Alexander, is that it empowers smaller businesses that may not have the resources or expertise to build out a portfolio of carbon credits. He told us the marketplace will be "the first of its kind", when it comes to democratizing access to offsets.

In future, it is even possible the marketplace will be opened to individuals hoping to offset their own personal carbon footprint. Although Salesforce will not allow people to purchase carbon credits on behalf of themselves (to guard against those who might seek to profit from credits in secondary markets), it may allow employees to purchase credits through their company.

The Salesforce Net Zero Marketplace is scheduled to go live in the US next month and will be brought to further markets in 2023.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.