By Antoine Pradayrol
This is the fourth six-monthly impact assessment report produced by Green Angel Syndicate, following up on our first report published in February 2020, our second one in October 2020, and our third in February 2021.
Green Angel Syndicate is one of the largest angel syndicates in the UK, and the only one specialising in the fight against climate change. We measure our impact in terms of the quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that have been prevented thanks to the activity of our portfolio companies.
Today, we are reporting that the CO2e emissions mitigations enabled by the GAS portfolio companies have again almost doubled in the past six months, reaching 38,000 tonnes, cumulatively, by the end of June 2021. This exponential growth is driven by the expansion of our portfolio and by the commercial development of the companies themselves.
As we have said since the beginning, calculating such an impact is a complex task - and we explain the philosophy behind our calculations for each company below. As Green Angel Syndicate grows, and as our portfolio businesses grow, we will be able to further refine our methods for calculating CO2e emissions mitigation.
In the meantime, global warming and climate change do not wait – and at Green Angel Syndicate we continue to focus most of our efforts on investing in new innovative businesses tackling these urgent threats, and on supporting rapid growth across our existing portfolio.
38,000 tonnes of CO2e avoided
Green Angel Syndicate invests exclusively in businesses with a direct impact on global warming and climate change – so each one of our portfolio companies must be developing a product or service that helps cut greenhouse gas emissions, or restore and regenerate degraded ecosystems on which we depend for CO2 removal.
In total, adding all the different types of contributions from our portfolio companies, we are proud to report that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided thanks to their activities has now reached 38,000 tonnes.
This figure has continued to increase rapidly, up another 86% in the past six months, reflecting the expansion in the commercial activity of many of our portfolio companies and also in the number of companies in our portfolio (26 as of the end of H1 2021).
However, 38,000 tonnes of CO2e, which is equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road for a year, remains a small number: global greenhouse gas emissions have passed 50 billion tonnes pa, and despite a drop in 2020, UK-wide emissions are still 414 million tonnes.
What this number really reflects is the early stage of commercial development of our portfolio businesses – which is what you would expect for an angel investment portfolio. As revenues of portfolio companies grow, so will their impact. This is already the case for a number of them, whilst others are still in development mode.
An essential requirement of effective innovations in the battle against global warming and climate change is rapid transition to global scale, to achieve global impact on global warming as quickly as possible. Climate change is not waiting for us, it is happening now.
Energy and transportation making the largest contributions
During the first half of 2021, the largest contribution to the GAS portfolio’s carbon emissions mitigation figure came from the energy sector (59% of the total), followed by transportation (26%), and then buildings (8%) and recycling (7%). All sectors grew, but at different paces, as some business models can be scaled more rapidly than others, and not all companies are at the same development stage.
Source: Green Angel Syndicate
It is important to note that the ways companies contribute to avoiding carbon emissions vary widely from one sector to another, and from one business model to another.
For example, in the energy sector, Zeigo enables the construction of renewable energy assets by matching developers with corporates willing to buy the resulting power, and therefore directly helps the growth in renewable energy generation. Rovco makes the maintenance of offshore wind farms more cost effective and less polluting, thereby facilitating the adoption of wind power, thanks to its unique undersea surveying technology. Piclo, Powervault and eleXsys all help to integrate renewable energy into the electricity networks, and, in the case of Piclo and Powervault, the adoption of electric vehicles – by enabling power utilities, commercial clients and households to better manage peaks and troughs in electricity demand and supply.
In transport, Swytch’s electric bike conversion kits help boost cycling as a mode of mobility, and therefore helps reduce carbon emissions from driving; BetterPoints also encourages people to leave their cars at home, and walk or cycle instead. In the fast-growing delivery sector, Zedify’s electric cargo-bikes displace diesel vans, cutting emissions and pollution from transport.
In buildings, Shields Energy and Airex are both contributing to increasing energy efficiency, a key and direct lever to cut carbon emissions from buildings. Shields helps owners of commercial real estate to cut their electricity consumption thanks to its IoT-based solution; and Airex reduces heat loss from residential buildings thanks to its smart air vents.
In recycling and the circular economy, Thrift+ enables the reuse of clothing, therefore cutting carbon emissions from the making of new clothes; Smile Plastics recycles plastic into beautiful decorative panels, via a process which is more energy-efficient and much less polluting than traditional plastic manufacturing; and Good Club cuts carbon emissions notably by employing reusable delivery containers for food.
We have not yet calculated a contribution from our portfolio companies in agriculture because Better Origin and Oceanium are still in the development phase rather than in the commercialisation phase.
Finally, regarding companies in the environment sector (NatureSpace, NatureMetrics, StormHarvester and QLM), we have not yet been able to ascribe figures to their contributions in terms of greenhouse gas emissions or removal e.g. QLM has just been added to the portfolio and is still at development stage; and regarding NatureMetrics, we know that biodiversity is strongly interconnected with climate change, but we have not yet established a method to link NatureMetrics’ activity with CO2 concentrations.
Beyond carbon emissions
Not all the positive impacts of our portfolio businesses can be, or should be, directly captured in a single greenhouse gas mitigation number. It is useful and necessary to show the other forms of impacts that they make – and we have continued to benchmark them against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
As a group, our portfolio companies address 10 of the 17 SDGs, with a particular focus on renewable energy, resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and water. These four SDGs are being addressed by seven or more portfolio companies.
Matching GAS portfolio companies with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Source: Green Angel Syndicate
Making an impact on global warming and climate change is at the core of what Green Angel Syndicate is about.
As such, even though putting numbers on the carbon mitigation generated by an angel investment portfolio such as ours is difficult, and must inevitably be flawed with numerous imperfections, we will continue reporting on these metrics every six months. As Green Angel Syndicate grows, and as our portfolio companies grow, we will progressively be able to refine our methods.
Antoine Pradayrol is a Director of Green Angel Syndicate, one of the largest active angel syndicates in the UK and the only one specialising in the fight against Climate Change. For regular updates follow Green Angel Syndicate on LinkedIn and Twitter.