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Venture capitalists win UN approval for climate tech alliance

The news: A coalition of over 20 VC firms launched the Venture Capital Alliance (VCA) Tuesday to increase investments in climate tech.

  • Some of the world’s largest VC funds, like Tiger Global and Union Square Ventures, are behind the effort to help VCA members and their portfolio companies achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • The VCA’s firms collectively have $62.3 billion in assets, according to Crunchbase data, per CNBC, which can be used to invest in climate tech startups and provide guidance on decarbonization and energy efficiency.
  • The UN approved the VCA as part of its Race to Zero campaign.

The macroeconomic context: After soaring levels of investment between 2020 and 2022, VC interest in climate tech has taken a hit in 2023.

  • VC funding in climate tech reached $70.1 billion in 2022, an 89% increase over 2021, according to HolonIQ Global Impact Intelligence, per Bloomberg.
  • In Q1 of this year, 4,600 climate tech companies raised only $5.7 billion—the lowest quarterly showing since June 2020, according to PitchBook data, per Politico.
  • Although green technology initiatives are buoyed by government assistance in many countries—including the US with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)—the sector isn’t immune to the overall tech industry’s economic slowdown.
  • Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse also left a funding deficit for startups, including those associated with climate tech.

The problem is that worsening climate fallout won’t wait for economic conditions to improve.

  • US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry estimated that half of the nation’s efforts to cut carbon emissions by 50% to 52% by 2030 come from technologies that don’t yet exist.
  • Like the UN, VCA members are aware that coordinated efforts to steer funding toward climate tech are necessary.

Connecting the dots: Climate change has significant implications for business, but its global impact makes it difficult for some to see the ROI on climate tech investments.

  • The environmental fallout includes economic disturbances such as factory shutdowns, higher risk for insurers, disrupted tourism industries, supply chain havoc, property damage, network outages, and food-price inflation.
  • Increasing climate-related regulation internationally means demand for effective climate technologies will rise over the long term.
  • We can expect to see more willingness to collaborate between climate startups and traditional industries like fossil fuel companies on technologies like carbon capture and alternative fuels.

First Published on Apr 27, 2023