Speedinvest Blog

Joining the Fight to Tackle Climate Change

by 

Cara van Riet

April 21, 2021

The threat of climate change is too big to ignore.

Gone are the days when the very existence of climate change or global warming only seemed to have strong support from your hippie aunt. The scientific consensus is clear and 197 countries have signed the 2015 Paris Agreement with the aim to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2050. This goal is certainly achievable, but given the exponential rise in emissions since the dawn of the industrial era, it will take strong collective action and leadership.

Atmospheric carbon since the First Industrial Revolution

The wealthiest 16 countries in the world will need to be at the front of these efforts, as they are responsible for nearly 40% of the problem. With the EU ranking third in per capita emissions - behind the US and China - we, as a pan-European VC, cannot avoid the influence we have and the responsibility to act that comes with it.

Starting with startups

As an investor, one of the most obvious things we can do is invest in technologies that are focus areas of the European Green Deal. Some examples include Greyparrot, using AI to improve waste sorting and recycling rates; Hier Foods, making it easy to order food from local sources;  Planetly, making carbon neutrality data driven; Sylvera, making carbon offset markets verifiable with machine learning; TIER Mobility, bringing electric scooter mobility solutions to the masses; TWAICE, using predictive analytics to improve battery efficiency; and there are many more on the way. Stay updated on all our new investments.

Our commitment to the environment doesn’t stop there. No matter the industry or sector of the startup we’ve invested in, our new term sheets and contracts urge founders to systematically examine their own carbon footprint and measurably reduce their emissions within twelve months. They will not be alone. Our Platform+ team of operational experts will be on hand to support them with relevant knowledge and resources at every step along the way.

What tangible steps are we taking internally? 

Every step matters

When a problem is huge, analysis paralysis can take over. What can we actually do to make a difference? Rather than doing nothing, we’ve started by taking small steps that we can build upon in the future.

The guiding principles of our efforts to become carbon neutral are, first, to avoid unnecessary emissions and, second, reduce and offset unavoidable emissions. To that end, by H2 2021 we aim to have completed a sustainability audit of the partners and vendors we do business with. This includes banks, internet services, energy utilities, office suppliers, food providers and more. Basically, everyone we work with. 

Here are a few, small - but concrete and impactful - changes we’ve made so far: 

  • New team members receive refurbished electronics from our portfolio company Refurbed
  • Changing our toilet paper supplier (shout out to who gives a crap) because our waste causes a lot of waste!
  • Printing fewer business cards and using recycled paper (who really uses them in 2021, anyway?)
  • Instituting a “train-first” travel policy and reducing unnecessary travel

When we began monitoring our carbon footprint, it wasn’t surprising that 87% of our emissions came from travel - making it a prime target for reductions. While we were able to reduce these emissions by 68% in 2020, this was primarily due to COVID-19 lockdowns. We’re determined to move forward with our new travel policies to keep travel emissions down even once restrictions have lifted. Will every meeting continue to be on Zoom? No. But we’ve realized many of them can be. 

While just the beginning, these actions and carbon offsets have helped us to be carbon neutral since 2019.  That's something to celebrate!

As a member of Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA) taking part in this year's Time for Climate Action Campaign, we decided it was time to make our climate actions and goals more transparent.

If you want to join us, click here and spend five minutes to find some easy ways you can lower your personal carbon footprint (and maybe even save some money in the process!).

Vision for the future of European VC

This is only a beginning. Climate change doesn’t only affect us all, but the struggle to tackle the problem also calls upon everyone to contribute to the fight however they can. So as a VC that primarily invests in companies in one of the top three polluting regions of the world, simply throwing our hands up in the air and walking away - from both a moral and economic standpoint - is not an option. While lowering our own carbon footprint is an excellent way to begin, we are making it a part of our DNA to support our founders in doing the same. This multiplying effect is what will really make a difference for future generations.

Again, if you haven’t already, please take five minutes to find out what small changes can help make a big difference.


Authored by Cara van Riet. From day one, Speedinvest’s community of founders have open access to our entire team of investors, Platform+ support experts, and global networks of industry partners. We’re fully committed to giving the time, attention, and resources they need to build a category-defining company. 

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