For a growing group of start-ups, sustainability is not an afterthought or a charitable endeavor— it’s their entire business model.
iF works with innovative organizations to align business with social and sustainable impact. We're tracking a profound transformation in which the entire market -including investors, start-ups, employees, and consumers - are demanding businesses adopt profit models for people and planetary benefit.
Last week the UN Climate Chief reviewed a concerning report: Global indicators on carbon emissions showed we were nowhere near Paris Agreement goals. To curb global warming, CO2 emissions needed to be cut by 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, but current climate plans show a 10.6 percent increase instead.
Around the world, impacts of global warming and a changing climate are becoming more apparent and impactful on the living conditions of those around the world. Flooding in Pakistan, hurricanes on the eastern American seaboard, record-setting droughts in the middle east, and a near-constant cover of wildfire smoke in the Pacific Northwest cycled across headlines this summer.
As the ailing state of the planet is increasingly difficult to ignore, the world’s brightest business and engineering minds are setting out to make a change that helps the Earth and their bottom line.
In 2021, climate-tech startups raised $53.7 billion from venture capital and private equity, setting a record and nearly doubling the previous years’ investments. Talent is following close suit, with workers moving en masse to roles at climate tech organizations. In a vacuum left by slow-moving, voluntary, and fragmented multilateral agreements and ill-enforced government regulations, many are looking to private industry to lead the charge to save the environment.
Historically, the actions prompted by capitalism have conflicted with behaviors that would benefit concern for the planet and its inhabitants. Extraction and exploitation have been a key component of “business as usual.” However, businesses focusing solely on turning a profit are becoming increasingly at odds with the market: investors, employees, and consumers alike are demanding businesses make substantial efforts and investments towards improving their environmental and social impacts. As the scope and impact of climate change evolves, so must our efforts to combat it.
Instead of relying solely on philanthropic dollars funneled through environmental nonprofits, the modern sustainability sector is seeing businesses turning significant profits as a result of their pursuit of a better future. They’re fast moving, unapologetic, and effective in raising capital while attracting top talent. While the future of the planet is overwhelmingly bleak, this group of companies may just be part of a silver lining.
Here are just a few of the latest and greatest for-profit climate start-ups that we have our eyes on:
Founded in 2019, this SaaS enterprise solution provides dashboard visualizations for carbon accounting and reporting.
Capturing carbon at the source, this start-up stores and sells emissions from semi-trucks to organizations capable of collecting carbon long-term.
A platform and marketplace for hydrogen supply and demand, meant to advance long-term goals for fossil fuel replacements like wind and solar.
Climate-impact API to facilitate and track donations towards ecosystem restoration projects carried out by vetted NGO partners.