CIO World Asia IWD Series – From Climate Negotiator to Head of Sustainability

Head of Sustainability, Terrascope
Interview with CIO World Asia

Terrascope, a climate-tech company based in Singapore, provides large companies with data, analytics, and digital tools to help them measure their carbon footprint and decarbonize their operations and supply chains. As the Head of Sustainability at Terrascope, Lia Nicholson is focused on supporting companies in their journey towards a 1.5-degree global warming pathway. With experience as a climate leader in national and local government, business, and civil society across the Caribbean, West Africa, and the Pacific, Lia has previously served as a climate negotiator in the United Nations and senior advisor to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

CIO World Asia spoke with Lia Nicholson Head of Sustainability at Terrascope about the challenges and opportunities facing women in sustainability, the importance of carbon footprint measurement for companies to achieve their sustainability goals, her journey from a climate negotiator to Head of Sustainability, and how Terrascope’s platform measures and manages emissions for companies.

Helping Large Companies Measure Their Carbon Footprint and Decarbonize Business Operations and Supply Chains

Terrascope company is headquartered in Singapore and operates globally. As a key partner of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s ESG Impact Hub, we offer an enterprise-grade Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that utilizes data science, machine learning, and sustainability expertise. Our platform provides a range of emissions data, analytics, and digital tools designed to assist large companies worldwide in decarbonizing their business operations and supply chains with precision, depth, and optimal impact. Specifically, Terrascope solutions are tailored to help companies accurately and comprehensively measure and manage all of their carbon emissions, including scope 3 emissions in the value chain, which can be challenging to quantify but can represent up to 85% of a company’s carbon footprint

Journey from Climate Negotiator to Head of Sustainability at Terrascope

Lia Nicholson’s upbringing on the small Caribbean island of Antigua & Barbuda inspired a desire for change in the world. Experiencing a Category 5 hurricane at the age of six, which almost destroyed their house and resulted in a three-month-long power outage, played a significant role in this motivation. Throughout Lia Nicholson’s career, there has been a transition from a more general focus on environmental management, including conducting environmental impact assessments, to specializing in climate science. This includes studying the physical risks associated with climate change as well as the sources of emissions, such as fossil fuel combustion in the energy sector. Currently, Lia Nicholson is focused on developing strategies for decarbonization, with a particular emphasis on identifying emissions hotspots and finding impactful solutions to address them.

Challenges and Opportunities for Women in the Sustainability Sector Today

The field of sustainability has a rich history of pioneering and courageous women who have played a crucial role in its development. From Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring, which highlighted the dangers of a now-banned synthetic pesticide in 1962, to the work of activists such as Wangari Maathai in East Africa and, more recently, Greta Thunberg, women have been at the forefront of significant contributions to sustainability. With many opportunities for women to continue shaping and leading this field, sustainability is a promising and exciting area for women to pursue.

However, women in the sustainability sector today face challenges that are not unique to them. The entire sector must quickly develop the necessary skills to move at the speed and scale required to limit global warming to 1.5°C in this critical decade and ensure a livable future for all. Women in sustainability have a critical role to play in addressing this challenge, but they must advocate for the right conditions for themselves and the sector as a whole to build the necessary depth and breadth of expertise to tackle the climate crisis head-on.

The Importance of Carbon Footprint Measurement in Achieving Corporate Sustainability Goals

Accurate measurement and management of carbon emissions is vital for businesses to achieve their sustainability goals. It allows leaders to focus their resources where they matter most, at a commodity and business unit level. Without reliable carbon data, companies may struggle to develop effective strategies for reducing their emissions and reaching their decarbonisation targets, which often involve halving emissions by 2030 in line with science-based goals.

Moreover, carbon measurement and management is crucial for companies to remain competitive in a future low-carbon economy. Regulators, investors, and consumers are increasingly demanding greater disclosure and action on reducing carbon footprints. Failure to comply could lead to the accumulation of carbon-intensive stranded assets on balance sheets, while proactive companies can drive green revenue opportunities and position themselves to attract investments and customers.

Finally, data-driven carbon reduction strategies can also generate significant cost savings opportunities. Terrascope, for example, helps large companies with complex global value chains to achieve operational efficiencies, cut down on waste, and reduce costs by providing accurate and detailed insights into their carbon footprint, particularly for Scope 3 emissions. Ultimately, the accurate measurement of carbon footprints can not only contribute to a more sustainable future but can also offer business benefits in terms of cost savings, risk reduction, and reputation enhancement.