A Kiwi entrepreneur who founded a Singapore-based climate company has developed a technology to measure carbon sequestration and is looking to engage the New Zealand carbon market, kicking off with a large South Island landholder and a premier agricultural institution.
Auckland-born and raised Saurav J Bansal is the founder and CEO of GAIT, which stands for Green Artificial Intelligence Technology.
“GAIT is a Singapore-based climate group specialising in carbon projects, nature-based solutions and green technologies,” says Bansal.
“Our vision is very much for climate solutions to become more scalable, accurate and transparent.”
The company’s technology fuses flux sensors placed on site, publicly and privately sourced satellite data and artificial intelligence to make carbon measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) more robust
The technology platform aims to solve issues posed by current MRV methods, which in New Zealand include physically measuring the circumference of trees and comparing that data to tables showing carbon absorption averages in a similar environment.
“That’s a very rudimentary level technology being used in a multibillion dollar market,” says Bansal.
“There are currently major problems within global green markets, a lot of fraud or transparency issues, a lot of greenwashing, a lot of double counting of carbon credits.”
GAIT has developed technology that measures carbon sequestration digitally, in real-time. Rather than using tape measures and spades, the GAIT system fuses machine learning, sensors and spatial data to deliver real-time data. And it retains consistent accuracy across every ecosystem type and size, from 100 hectare to 1 million hectares. The climate group is currently advising, developing and using their technology on over 5 million hectares of carbon projects across Southeast Asia, Australia, The Pacific and Central Africa.
In New Zealand, carbon credits are increasingly important since the introduction of the emissions trading scheme as the government’s main tool for reducing greenhouse gases. Emitters must purchase emissions offsets, or carbon credits, to match every tonne of pollution produced.
Bansal says the GAIT technology would be advantageous to government agencies, large agri commodity stakeholders, or financial institutions that need data and information on which to base decisions regarding investments or sustainability-linked loans relating to green projects.
GAIT is currently working with the owners of Lake Hawea Station, one of the country’s premier high-country farms, supporting their vision to become 10 times carbon positive.
GAIT is also working with Lincoln University’s Centre of Excellence for Designing Future Productive Landscapes, led by Professor Pablo Gregorini. GAIT is working with the research centre on a research project to understand the ecology and full journey of an integral health dairy farm, including the farm’s carbon sequestration and carbon emissions. This is ahead of the introduction of emissions taxes on farmers in 2025. Under the new rules, farmers’ carbon sequestration would not be recognised.
Bansal says he feels excited to return to New Zealand with a solution to one of the world’s biggest issues — global warming.
As the son of a Tongan immigrant, he feels personally invested in the field, with global warming and associated sea rise a critical threat to his mother’s homeland.
“I always had a particular interest and passion for the green space. Being half Indian and half Tongan, a lot of my childhood was spent in both countries, so in the Pacific and in South Asia. Climate change always affected where I lived and the sort of the communities I was in.”
Bansal’s journey to founding GAIT came after finishing school as deputy head prefect at Kings College,and moving to Sydney to complete a bachelor’s in commerce and a master’s in information systems. He worked as a consultant at VMware, a Silicon Valley technology company, before becoming chief marketing officer for Develop for Good, a US-based non-profit creating technical tools for other non-profits. There he says he helped 1200 developers and designers gain much-needed tech experience, while overseeing 80-plus partners including UNICEF, World Health Organisation and The World Bank.
From there, he saw the potential for artificial intelligence in green markets.
“There is enormous potential in carbon markets in New Zealand, and in diversifying away from a major focus on pinus radiata as the go-to carbon project type.
“Our technology provides instant feedback for those already undertaking carbon sequestration projects.
“For those who want to make a change, our technology can support that journey. How do you make a change if you don't know how to measure that change or even know what the change is?”