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Exclusive: Carbon-offset startup CNaught launches with $2.25M

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Carbon-offset startup CNaught emerged from stealth with a $2.25 million round, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The voluntary carbon-offset market has been growing dramatically, but it's also been mired in controversy over offsets that don't avoid emissions.

Details: CNaught, founded in 2022, said the pre-seed round was led by Greycroft and included Australian VCs Carthona Capital and Long Run Capital.

  • CNaught CEO and co-founder Mark Chen described CNaught as a "robo adviser for carbon offsets" that can help its customers buy carbon credits with more transparency and more easily.
  • Customers include web-privacy company DuckDuckGo, home builders Homebound and ride-sharing company Hitch.
  • Right now there's zero guidance in this space, says Chen, who was previously chief operating officer with voice-analytics company Rev.
  • The startup says over the past year it's retired more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon credits on behalf of dozens of customers.

Big picture: The market for voluntary carbon offsets is being pushed by companies setting net-zero goals, as well as emerging carbon-disclosure laws.

  • Over the weekend, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a carbon-disclosure bill that requires big companies doing business in the state to report their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The federal Securities and Exchange Commission is working on more guidance around what it will require U.S. companies to disclose around carbon and ESG. Europe already has its guidelines in place.
  • Companies that turn to buying offsets do so to replace emissions from sectors that are difficult to abate, like buying net-zero building materials or procuring enough sustainable aviation fuel.
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