The Climate 100 ranks UK-based VC-backed tech companies based on how they exemplify climate leadership, such as measuring their carbon footprint, making a reduction plan, or offsetting their emissions.
We compiled a list of 500 pre-IPO, UK-headquartered, VC-backed tech companies with over $20M USD in funding, 30+ in headcount, and have raised a round from 2019 onwards. We used data from Dealroom and other public sources of data, as well as reaching out to each company on the list to confirm or correct data. Each of these companies was evaluated using our ranking criteria, and the top 100 were selected.
Our ranking criteria were developed to provide a comprehensive and realistic checklist of the actions technology companies in the UK could be taking to show climate leadership. Companies were scored on a Yes / No basis on the following 6 criteria:
- If the company measured their carbon footprint;
- If the company has implemented a carbon reduction plan;
- If the company has set a climate target or commitment, such as a net zero or carbon-neutral target;
- If the company ever purchased conventional, avoidance offsets (e.g. offsets which protect existing forests from being cleared);
- If the company ever purchased carbon removal offsets (e.g. projects like Direct Air Capture which actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere); and
- If the company has reported on their climate progress publicly.
The total possible climate score is 100; see below for a breakdown.
Emission Measurement (Corporate Carbon Footprint):
If the company measured their corporate carbon footprint according to GHG protocol or ISO 14064, it received 25 points for this action. The quality and comprehensiveness of the measurement were not assessed - this is something that will be considered as future improvement. We consider measurement to be the foundation of evidence-based climate action which enables effective emission reductions.
If the company stated that it has either implemented or is planning to implement specific emissions reduction measures, it received 25 points. We are aware that stated reduction actions are very different from achieved and measured reductions, and we are hoping to be able to capture this in the next iteration of this report. Emissions reductions are arguably the most important part of climate leadership and the hardest to achieve.
Setting a Climate Target:
If the company stated they have set a net zero or carbon-neutral target, it received 25 points for this action. Climate targets are important commitments that galvanise emissions reductions. The climate target space is in a state of transition, with “carbon neutrality” being increasingly questioned in its current form and “net zero” emerging as the only valid climate target. Nonetheless, both are counted for now.
Offsetting with Carbon Removal:
If the company purchased carbon removal credits in the past, it received 15 points. Carbon removal projects are those which can prove a quantified reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide over and above the "business-as-usual" baseline. Examples can include properly structured afforestation projects through to technological solutions that directly capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it permanently. Any carbon removal purchase regardless of durability, quantity, and timing counted in this iteration. Tech companies are in a unique position to be leaders in supporting the early carbon removal market and kick-starting this group of technologies that will need to scale 14,000x in the next 25 years to play their role in stabilising the climate at 1.5 degrees warming.
Offsetting with Emission Avoidance Offsets:
Emission avoidance offsets such as renewable energy projects and forestry protection credits are increasingly questioned in terms of the climate benefits they actually deliver. Nonetheless, we believe that companies purchasing these credits in the past have done so in good faith, hoping to support needed activities around the world and received 5 points.
Actions speak louder than words, which is why we scored this action with 5 points. Being transparent and communicating your climate footprint and actions can support wider progress and help build credibility.
Climate Tech Companies
Many of the UK tech companies are climate tech companies. While their ultimate climate impact may be broader and deeper, this is separate from their own corporate carbon emission. We feel they have the imperative to track and reduce their operational emissions regardless of the climate impact of their business. In this study, they are treated and ranked the same as other companies, and the broader impact of their missions is not factored into the ranking.
Ranking companies with the same climate score
Funding and headcount are not used to determine the score; however, in the case of companies with the same climate score, they are ranked based on Headcount, high to low. The reasoning is that the more employees, the more effort actions are likely to be. In cases where companies have the same climate score and similar headcount, they are ranked on the inverse of investment received to give credit to companies acting despite lower financial resources.
We will continue to evolve our methodology over time, increasing its sophistication and allowing more nuanced rankings for future versions of the Climate 100.
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