Could the forests and land of Europe offset most of its CO2? This startup hopes to prove it

The voluntary carbon market remains a Wild West. There are few standards, a myriad of approaches, while buyers and sellers are crying out for clarity.

And there are lots of different approaches. In tokenization there are startups like Single.Earth and Flow Carbon. In marketplaces there is CarbonXchange, Aircarbon. In afforestation there is Land Life Company and Future Forest Company. The list goes on.

Arbonics' approach is to use a data- and science-driven tool to calculate the potential carbon income of land and forests for landowners in Europe. For obvious reasons, this creates a business for these owners as well as helping to fight climate change.

The company is now announcing that earlier this year it raised €1.8 million in a pre-seed round from Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Wise) with his new fund Plural.

Founded by Kristjan Lepik and Lisett Luik in early 2022, Arbonics says it helps landowners analyze and calculate the ability of their land to absorb carbon using many data sources and looks at unused land and existing forests that can generate carbon credits.

Carbon credits are a way for carbon emitters to offset emissions. It’s estimated that the European Union alone has the potential to capture and store up to two gigatonnes of additional carbon annually — equivalent to 73% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions in 2021. Assuming Arbonics is successful, that's a big prize to shoot for.

Kristjan Lepik, co-founder of Arbonics, told me:

Right now the process of getting carbon credits is far too complex and too costly for an average landowner to go through. Data and tech make this quick and transparent. Secondly, we are taking the long-term view. Some players on the market are trying to create short-term credits that are harder to sell to B2B credit buyers. We need to make sure that long-term changes are made to the forests.

He says the company is different from competitors because it looks across the whole forest lifecycle, is aimed at European landowners and is faster than others.

In a statement, Taavet Hinrikus, founding investor, added:

I am a big fan of technologies that can speed up carbon capture — direct air capture is one example. But those technologies are only a small part of the solution; we need to empower nature and combine it with data-based technologies to help nature-based solutions scale.