While the world reels from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s perhaps easy to forget there is another, even greater existential threat simmering in the background – climate change. It’s a crisis many of us would like to do something about ... the question is always what exactly?

For entrepreneur Christian Arno, it wasn’t enough to play his own small part by recycling and choosing eco-friendly supplies. He knew that to make a real impact he needed to make it easier for everyone to make similar environmentally conscious choices.

It was a series of events, including a kick up the backside from his father, that finally spurred him into action and led him to set up Pawprint, the soon to be launched app that helps users measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprint.

Mr Arno was already a successful entrepreneur having set up the translation business, Lingo24, after studying languages at Oxford University. The Aberdonian spent almost 20 years growing it into a successful international concern, but craved a new challenge, one that would make a real difference.

“Building Lingo24 was a great learning curve and I learnt so much about how business works. But I always had this gnawing feeling that I could have more impact,” he says. 

“There was no lightbulb moment as such,” explains Mr Arno about the genesis of Pawprint. “It started when friends of mine opened a zero-waste shop in Edinburgh. I was impressed, but it also made me assess what I was doing.

“Shortly afterwards I was approached to get involved in an app that would allow people to compare their net worth. It was a good idea, but after seeing my friends do their bit for the planet, it felt... deeply soulless”, jokes Mr Arno. And then, of course, there was the lecture from his father. “He sat me down and said ‘Come on Christian, you’re a dad of young children now. Look at what climate change could mean. It’s serious.’ I tend to listen to him so I got cracking and Pawprint is the result.”

Pawprint, with its cuddly Bjorn the polar bear logo, is billed as an eco-companion app and has been designed to be a trusted eco information source. “The majority of people are keen to do their bit for the environment but don’t know where to find reliable information on how to, this is where Pawprint comes in,” says Mr Arno. 

The carbon measurement data powering Pawprint comes direct from the leading authority on the topic – Mike Berners-Lee, author of How Bad Are Bananas’ and ‘There’s No Planet B’, who sits on the board and has, Christian says, been instrumental in designing the app.

The free app works by calculating users’ carbon footprints, enabling them to track these based on lifestyle choices made. It then helps users reduce their carbon impact by setting personalised challenges and providing local info on all things eco.

Christian believes that through positive network effects and an inclusive and accessible tone, Pawprint can create a movement of people driven to do their bit. 

Launching later this month, the business has raised backing from investors including Oli Norman of Itison, James Watt, of Brewdog, and Scott McCulloch from the Vegan Kind as well as backers of Tesla, Spotify and Amazon. 

When its crowdfund campaign closed last week Pawprint had secured £363,440 from 1219 investors against an initial target of £100k. Mr Arno clarifies: “We set an affordable £10 as our minimum investment as we want to attract as many like-minded individuals with ‘skin in the game’ as possible who can spread the word and help us scale quickly.”  

Acknowledging that there are other businesses seeking to address the climate change problem, Mr Arno believes this can only be a good thing as “competition will help raise the bar and combating climate change is bigger than you or me. We are in a race against time to do it.”

He also recognises that at present halting the spread of the coronavirus is front and centre in the nation’s minds but points out that global crises aren’t mutually exclusive. 

He believes that the coronavirus and our lessons in fighting this pandemic can actually act as the catalyst that unites people to fight climate change. 

“The ‘coming together’ and remarkable acts of community spirit that we’re seeing right now are reminding us all that people can and will rise to the occasion when called to the front line.

“It is also timely that the global lockdown has, at least in the short term, reduced carbon emissions. Sights such as dolphins swimming in canals in Venice are helping inspire people to think about climate change.”

Known as an “ideas man” amongst friends and colleagues – Mr Arno once fell out with his best friend when at the age of 20 they were debating how best to change the world. “He thought revolution and I thought business. I still believe business almost 20 years later and it’s now my turn to prove it.”

To find out more about Pawprint visit www.pawprint.eco

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