About two-dozen venture capital firms say they are teaming up to “build a robust movement” in the VC business to combat the climate crisis. The group calls itself the Venture Climate Alliance, or VCA.
The coalition counts well-known tech investors, including Tiger Global and Union Square Ventures as members, and said in a joint statement on Tuesday that its goal is to “define, facilitate, and realize net zero-aligned pathways” for early-stage startups.
Several things are happening here.
Materially, VCA says its members will kick things off by assessing their “scope 1-3 carbon footprint,” and by pledging to hit “net zero or negative emissions for their own firm’s operations” by the end of the decade.
VCA also says its members are committed to helping their portfolio companies set net-zero targets for 2050 at the latest. Along the way, members are supposed to “report transparently on their progress over time.”
Crucially, “net-zero emissions” are not the same as zero emissions, and businesses have earned scrutiny for using such language to obscure their ongoing carbon pollution. Net-zero targets that hinge on carbon offsets warrant skepticism, given the offset industry’s poor track record to date.
The makeup of VCA is also noteworthy. Several well-known generalists are linking with some relatively specialized firms, such as S2G, a prolific food tech backer, and Fifth Wall, which focuses on real estate and runs a hefty, buildings-focused climate fund. In theory, VCA members can share a nice, big Rolodex of experts and pass on what they learn across industry lines.
Directionally, VCA is a signal from noteworthy investors that they’re still invested in climate solutions, be they “climate tech” or broader decarbonization efforts. This is important because, after two blowout years, funding for climate tech ebbed in the first quarter of 2023, sowing doubt as to whether the sector is still as trendy or “recession proof” as it seemed.
In an email to TechCrunch, climate finance consultant Dan Firger said VCA’s methodology working group will start developing a list of best practices and disclosure guidelines in May. “We anticipate sharing more information with members, and the public, along the way,” he added.
VCA membership isn’t binding and members can leave “at any time,” said Firger. Membership also isn’t limited to the 23 venture firms that are currently on board. The group said in a statement that it is open to any venture firm that “agrees to fulfill VCA’s commitments and to actively contribute to the organization.” Other members at launch include Obvious, DCVC, Prelude and Clean Energy Ventures.
This story was updated at 7:28pm PT on April 25 to reflect that Kleiner Perkins is not involved with the VCA. A representative for VCA said the firm was “erroneously included” in an earlier press release.