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Amy Brown headshot

These Venture Capitalists Are on a Mission to Put Companies on Path to Net Zero From Day One

By Amy Brown
An office building with trees growing next to it.

Can venture capital save the planet? The industry is betting a serious amount of money, to the tune of $70.1 billion, in climate tech startups to prove it can — or at least do its part. 

The more muscle behind this goal, the better. Hence the recent launch of the Venture Climate Alliance, a coalition of firms looking to build an industry-wide movement to combat climate change and transition to net-zero emissions. 

Some of the world’s largest VC funds, such as Tiger Global, have signed on to the alliance — signaling a shift from traditional VC  investment targets like software and financial technology. Twenty-three VC firms across the U.S. and Europe have signed up so far. 

Members commit to reaching net-zero emissions for their operations by 2030 and reporting progress transparently. They'll also engage with their portfolio companies to create paths to net zero in the early investment stage and help them to realize those goals.

Venture capital has long played a role in transformative innovation across technology, pharmaceuticals and other industries. So, it makes sense for the industry to embrace a role in scaling up climate tech as part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

High energy prices and government support drive momentum for climate tech

It doesn’t hurt that a jump in energy prices is driving more money to climate tech. Green energy technologies are reaching the point where they are cheaper and better performing than their fossil fuel incumbents. It’s no wonder, then, that funding for startups focused on clean energy and reducing fossil fuel use rose 4 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to BloombergNEF

Government support is also increasing with policies like the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan. Across the globe, public and private investments in climate tech totaled $1.1 trillion in 2022, according to a Bloomberg analysis

"Net zero for thee but not for me is no longer a workable solution,” Daniel Firger, co-founder of the Venture Climate Alliance, said in a statement. “If we're serious about moving the entire world economy into alignment with a pathway to net-zero emissions, we must consider the critical role that private markets play in that journey."

Early-stage innovation can help legacy industries get to net-zero faster

VC investors are the linchpin between capital markets and early-stage innovation, with the opportunity to help companies move from initial development to commercialization and scale.

The alliance wants to bridge the gap between the hundreds of net-zero commitments in public markets and early-stage innovation from startups, which can help legacy industries decarbonize at a lower cost with new products and processes, Alexandra Harbour, a co-founder of the Alliance, said in a press announcement

Marrying established companies with startups is a proven path to achieving greater innovation for legacy industries while giving newcomers a leg up, as TriplePundit recently reported

Yet the methodologies, tools, and data to track climate impacts of early-stage investments are either nonexistent or inaccessible, the Alliance attests. That’s why its members want to develop best practices to collect, interpret and report this data and share what they learn with the industry. 

Image credit: Scott Webb/Pexels

Amy Brown headshot

Based in Florida, Amy has covered sustainability for over 25 years, including for TriplePundit, Reuters Sustainable Business and Ethical Corporation Magazine. She also writes sustainability reports and thought leadership for companies. She is the ghostwriter for Sustainability Leadership: A Swedish Approach to Transforming Your Company, Industry and the World. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn and her Substack newsletter focused on gray divorce, caregiving and other cultural topics.

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