Calculating Carbon
A Fitbit for carbon footprint: that was the idea behind the Capture app, launched last year by Josie Stoker and her business partner Abdul Aziz.

‘As individuals it’s very difficult to wrap our heads around carbon emissions because it’s not something tangible; that’s why we decided to focus on tracking carbon footprint with the app,’ says Stoker.
Josie Stoker

‘In many cases empowering people with information is the first step to making future decisions.’ 


The app is based on figures in the 2019 Emissions Gap Report which stated that yearly global greenhouse gas emissions would have to fall by at least 7.6 percent year on year for the next decade, in order to stay below the 1.5 degrees of warming stipulated in the Paris Agreement. ‘We should just about be on track to meet that target this year from an emissions reduction perspective but of course, we’re in the middle of a pandemic,’ continues Stoker who met Aziz when she signed up for Antler, a talent incubator programme in Singapore that aims to match those with tech and business backgrounds to test out start-up ideas. ‘With Capture, we wanted to make that 7.6 percent personal to users by calculating a baseline carbon footprint, then a monthly target.’ 


She and Aziz worked with Jake Langmead-Jones, a science advisor who is part of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, to ensure that the baseline figures for the app – which predicts emissions using an algorithm and GPS signals from daily journeys based on mode of transport and length of time – are as accurate as possible. Once armed with the facts, the hope is that users will alter their journeys or choose to offset their emissions through the auto off-setting function. ‘Individuals may not realise the emissions that come from their daily commute for instance, but with the knowledge available, it might nudge them towards doing things differently.’ 



As well as the free app, a more in-depth version, Capture for Teams, is aimed at businesses who want to create an eco-minded workforce (it’s licensed on a per employee, per month basis). ‘More advanced features track carbon emissions through collective employee action, and include challenges and a leader board,’ confirms Stoker. Another advocate of sustainability within business is Brown Shipley which recognises the need for change in the world of financial services. It aims to use its influence and investments to enhance the conduct of companies by encouraging them to consider more planet-friendly strategies. Not only that, it is also committed to eliminating all single-use plastics from its own premises by the end of 2020 (a target that it is on track to achieve) and is making a concerted effort in every market it operates in to reduce its carbon footprint through actions such as minimising electricity usage and recycling. 

During lockdown, Stoker added a basic tool to Capture that tracks emissions from diet and she has already started thinking about two other major areas: home energy and spending on goods and services. ‘A third of UK households have smart meters so as they are rolled out, we would like to integrate that data into the app and if users give permission, we are also looking into ways to use bank statements to predict carbon footprint, from say, buying coffee in Starbucks.’ The problem, she says, is that although you can identify where and how much has been spent it’s impossible to tell exactly what’s been bought. ‘It’s not an overnight solution but it is a way that people can begin to connect to, decode and improve their carbon footprint.’