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Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. Investments through Green Angel Ventures are high-risk, and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more

Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. Investments through Green Angel Ventures are high-risk, and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more

News & Insights

Carbon Impact Report – April 2024

12 April 2024

Written by Shannon Hobbs & Antoine Pradayrol, April 2024

Green Angel Ventures invests exclusively in early stage companies that fight climate change. These companies mitigate greenhouse gas emissions directly through their activities, or have a positive environmental impact that results in reduced greenhouse gas concentrations. We are confident that these companies are mitigating climate change, because our investment team evaluates a company against our green criteria in the due diligence process. If a company does not meet our climate expectations, we do not invest. 

Greenwashing is a significant challenge in fund management, with 59% of institutional investors identifying this challenge in 2021.[1] A recent study by the CFA Institute Research and Policy Centre found that risk of greenwashing occurs from omission of meaningful information, unsubstantiated claims, inconsistencies in claims, and exaggeration of evidence.[2] Such findings are an extension of many recent studies highlighting greenwashing risks around dubious information disclosure practices.[3,4,5]

At Green Angel Ventures, we prioritise maintaining standards of reporting the climate impact of our investments in the best way we can and as transparently as possible. Every six months we publish a report on the carbon impact of our portfolio companies from the point of our investment. The report details their cumulative carbon impact and sectoral breakdown of such impact. We answer questions on the foundation of our impact calculations, and new developments to advance transparency in our claims, followed by a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) analysis of our portfolio companies.

 

 

Our portfolio companies have saved 206,000 tonnes of CO₂e!

Thanks to the activities of our portfolio companies, 206,000 tonnes of CO₂e have been avoided since we started collecting data in 2018. This is equivalent to taking ~125,000 cars off of the road for one year.[6] As it has done historically, the carbon savings from our portfolio companies have continued to grow at a rapid rate. From December 2023 to December 2024 we recorded a 76% increase in avoided CO₂e emissions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the largest contributors to GHG emissions from economic activity in the UK in order are:[7]

  1. Consumer expenditure
  2. Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Transport and storage

By breaking down the impact into sectors, we can see that our investments are clearly addressing three of the four sectors outlined by the Office for National Statistics (2, 3 and 4). ‘Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply’ relates to our investments in Buildings and Energy; ‘Manufacturing’ is linked to Industry and Recycling; and ‘Transport and storage’ to Transport. Consumer expenditure is a grey area and difficult to map across our impact, as it covers emissions from households and personal travel,[8] which can fit across multiple Green Angel Venture sectors, such as BuyMeOnce in ‘Other’ and Thrift+ in ‘Industry and Recycling’. 

Fankhauser et al.’s (2021) paper argues that for a transition to net zero to be credible, the hard-to-treat sectors, including industry, buildings, food and agriculture, aviation, and mining must be decarbonised as a priority.[9] Three of these are strategic sectors where we focus our investments, however we have also invested in a company that is working to reduce the environmental impact of the mining industry through a circular economy approach. DEScycle uses Deep Eutectic Solvents technologies to extract and recycle precious metals from e-waste. As such, the investments made by Green Angel Ventures target emissions reduction efforts within the largest emitting sectors as well as hard-to-treat sectors.

 

What are the foundations of impact?

Green Angel Ventures has invested over £40m into 44 portfolio companies. Our initial investment is typically in early-stage companies, often characterised by being pre-revenue. We sustain our investment commitment through follow-on rounds as the company progresses and matures, aiming to bolster their growth trajectory and consequent carbon impact.

We define ‘carbon impact’ as the quantifiable emission reduction from a product or service, achieved by replacing a more carbon intensive alternative. This could be from the production of a good from materials that sequester or store carbon, and/or from selling a good or service which are produced or delivered using no (or much lower) greenhouse gas emissions than the standard product or service on the market.

Considering the data provided by the Office for National Statistics on GHG’s as discussed above,[7] it becomes evident that many new innovations across different sectors will be required to shift to a net zero economy. Green Angel Ventures strategically allocates investments across a diverse array of companies, recognising their unique roles in mitigating climate change. As such, our portfolio companies are impact makers and impact facilitators – both of which are important to recognise. Let us take an example from two of our portfolio companies to give a flavour of the foundation of their impact:

 

Not all of our portfolio companies have started producing goods or selling on the market yet, therefore the 206,000 tonnes of CO₂e mitigated results from the commercial activity of 25 companies. As the additional companies grow and establish a customer base, the cumulative carbon impact will undoubtedly also grow. 

 

What are the latest developments?

We work with our portfolio companies to develop, review and improve the methods we use to calculate their carbon impact. For this edition of our report, we welcome the contribution of Low Carbon Materials. Low Carbon Materials has built the World’s first carbon negative and carbon zero concrete blockwork. Their innovation led to them being finalists in the prestigious Earth Shot Prize in 2022. Their carbon impact is two-fold. We attribute their avoided emissions through preventing the incarceration of waste, whilst their blocks simultaneously lock away carbon. We view them as impact makers, because their product directly substitutes carbon intensive alternatives. 

 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the portfolio

The SDGs “provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.[10] The most recent 2023 Sustainable Development Goals progress report found that the world is far off track to achieving the 17 Goals by 2030. Whilst some SDGs are close to the target and are on track (access to mobile networks, internet use, skilled birth attendance, full employment, and sustainable and inclusive industrialisation), others have stagnated or are moving in the wrong direction.[11] Based on a 12 month period, NOAA recorded that in February 2024 the Earth had already warmed by 1.25°C of the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement.[12] In this context, the progress report identified climate change, alongside food security and protecting biodiversity, to be the SDGs moving in the wrong direction.[11]

Over time the private sector has become more engaged with achieving the SDGs, however in a similar vein to the risks of greenwashing discussed above, there is a risk of SDG-washing.[11] At Green Angel Ventures we do not measure the contribution of our portfolio companies to the 17 Goals, however we do map what SDGs their activities positively impact. To enhance transparency, we disclose that we only include SDGs that a company directly influences from their commercial activities. 

Our portfolio companies directly contribute to achieving 10 of the 17 Goals. The 17 Goals are interconnected and a greater focus has recently been given to understanding the synergies, co-benefits and tradeoffs between them. A 2023 report by UNDESA and UNFCCC found evidence that links SDG 13 Climate Action to 80% of 2030 Agenda targets.[13] The same narrative can be found among our portfolio companies, whereby 28 companies contribute to 2 or more SDGs through their activities. 

SDG 12, SDG 9, and SDG 7 are being addressed the most by our companies. Since 2020 the advancement towards these goals has made limited or no progress (SDG 12 and 9), or fair progress but acceleration is needed (SDG 7). It is evident that more action needs to be taken by the public and private sector to realign the trajectory to achieve the Goals by 2030. Green Angel Ventures will continue to deploy more capital into more climate innovations to fight climate change and in parallel make a greater contribution to the SDGs. 

 

Sources

  1. Schroders (2021) Schroders Institutional Investor Study: Optimism Surges for Investment Returns. Available at: https://www.schroders.com/en/global/individual/insights/schroders-institutional-investor-study-optimism-surges-for-investment-returns-2021/
  2. Gehrig, N. & Moreno, A. (2023) An Exploration of Greenwashing Risks in Investment Fund Disclosures: An Investor Perspective. CFA Institute Research and Policy Centre. Available at: https://rpc.cfainstitute.org/en/research/reports/2023/greenwashing-risks-in-investment-fund-disclosures#:~:text=Report%20Overview,broader%20sustainability%20credentials%20and%20objectives
  3. PwC (2022) Sustainable Funds: Foundations and Disclosures of over 220 ESG Funds. Available at: https://www.pwc.ch/en/insights/fs/greening-your-financial-products.html 
  4. Dumitrescu, A., Gil-Bazo, J. & Zhou, F. (2023) Defining Greenwashing. SSRN. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4098411 
  5. European Banking Authority (2023) EBA Progress Reporting on Greenwashing Monitoring and Supervision. Available at: https://www.eba.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document_library/Publications/Reports/2023/1055934/EBA%20progress%20report%20on%20greewnwashing.pdf 
  6. NimbleFins (2024) Average CO2 Emissions per Car in the UK. Available at: https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/average-co2-emissions-car-uk 
  7. Office for National Statistics (2023) Dataset: Atmospheric emissions: greenhouse gases by industry and gas. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/datasets/ukenvironmentalaccountsatmosphericemissionsgreenhousegasemissionsbyeconomicsectorandgasunitedkingdom 
  8. Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (2023) Annex 2: 2021 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, by Standard Industrial Classification. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/64995761de86820013bc8d99/annex-2-1990-2021-uk-ghg-emissions-final-figures-by-sic-section.pdf 
  9. Fankhauser, S., Smith, S. M., Allen, M. et al (2022) The meaning of net zero and how to get it right. Nature Climate Change 12: 15–21. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-021-01245-w#citeas 
  10. United Nations (2024) The 17 Goals. Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/goals 
  11. United Nations (2023) Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023. Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/sites/default/files/2023-09/FINAL%20GSDR%202023-Digital%20-110923_1.pdf 
  12. NOAA (2024) Global Time Series. Available at: https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/climate-at-a-glance/global/time-series/globe/land_ocean/12/2/1850-2024 
  13. UNDESA and UNFCCC (2023) Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis: Tackling Climate and SDG Action Together. Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/synergy-solutions-world-crisis-tackling-climate-and-sdg-action-together