How GoCodeGreen is aiming to make fintech software net-zero
“The climate challenge in front of us all is immense. It’s centuries in the making, and we have eight years to try and materially alter its current trajectory.”
Those are the words of Eric Zie, CEO and founder of GoCodeGreen (GCG) and head of future solutions at NatWest Group.
While the clock is ticking on the climate emergency and inertia is pervasive in some sectors of the economy and society, a number of companies across industry verticals have sprung up with the goal of helping to reduce emissions and push for net-zero targets.
GoCodeGreen is just one such outfit. It’s a tool that businesses can use to calculate the carbon emissions of a software product in both build and operate mode.
“Through accurate measurement we are able to recommend actions to reduce carbon emissions and rate software products against best-in-class for similar size and complexity,” Zie tells FinTech Futures.
The platform has been built to help support the shift toward sustainable software engineering and inform decision makers as they design, build, select and procure new tech.
It can also help set clear KPIs and targets as more and more businesses undergo digital transformation.
Zie says: “For us, software is the heart of digitisation, and by building more efficient and carbon-aware products we can make a real difference in the consumption of energy through the entire technology value chain.”
Knowledge is key
Traditional banks are increasingly looking to embed sustainability in their transformational change strategies but often struggle to understand the carbon emissions related to technology and software beyond the energy going into their data centres.
Companies such as GCG are aiming to help financial institutions understand the carbon impact of their software production and usage at a level they have not been able to see before. Armed with that knowledge, they can start to build a strategic response to bring down their carbon footprint.
“We have to also face the truth – we are often telling them things they did not know and adding to their challenge to achieve net-zero,” Zie says.
But, according to Zie, big banks have the scale and appetite for change to make a significant impact, and this desire coupled with better knowledge of their carbon emissions will give the industry a boost ahead of the UN’s 2030 climate emergency tipping point.
Software under the microscope
Despite the gains and advances made in recent years towards net-zero and other climate targets, Zie says there are still hurdles to overcome.
“Right now, it feels like a constant education exercise. We need more advocates across all firms to really understand the size of impact that they can achieve.”
Through its measurement platform, GCG is able to operate across individual projects all the way through to entire domains and product lines.
Understanding the carbon emissions related to software build and usage across the multiple layers of a tech stack provides a great basis to then act – “and we are seeing opportunities to reduce build emissions by up to 60% and 15 to 25% for operating emissions as a result of our pilot phase”.
While regulations and the reporting required by all firms over the next few years will become deeper and more detailed, software level standards and reporting are also needed for software development to encourage the transition to sustainable engineering practices.
That way, supply chain professionals can start to effectively bake climate credentials into the software product selection process.
Zie outlines a few critical steps the financial technology sector could take to help avert climate catastrophe and make the industry net-zero.
Firstly, he says computing power should be treated as a non-abundant resource. “We are too used to cheap limitless computing power and our software development has become ‘lazy’ as a result,” Zie adds.
Secondly, software should be made “carbon aware” and more responsive to usage patterns in order to improve efficiency.
Lastly, he says developers should make software more “elegant” to extend the lifespan of devices and IT equipment so that use of the embodied carbon is maximised.
Stepping up to bat
Tackling climate change is a responsibility that falls on the whole world’s shoulders. Zie says it’s important governments set policies and commitments that they hold themselves to. But organisations, like those in the financial services sector, have a powerful role to play in taking their own action.
“We also need to stop claiming success in the short term; we have hard decisions, choices and actions to take over the next eight years that need us to only celebrate our journeys toward net-zero once we have all helped to make a difference.”
Zie says he talks to too many firms who enthusiastically claim to have achieved net-zero but have failed to understand the full extent of their carbon emissions, whether direct, indirect or those that occur in their supply chains.
“I’m hoping that targeted tools like GoCodeGreen can help them uncover more in their value chain which they can then address with the same vigour and lead to true lasting impact.”