To tackle the Climate & Ecological Emergency we need every green tool in our tool box – plus a whole load of new ones.  We need to fundamentally change the way we do business, moving from a consume and dispose society to a circular economy where impact on the environment and society is weighed equally against profit making.   Supporting innovative start-up businesses is a fundamental part of the urgent action we need to tackle the Climate & Ecological Emergency. 

March 2023 

Imagine if the world was a house, and that house kept catching fire. We had perfectly good fire equipment to put out the fire, we just didn’t have enough of it. But we did have plenty of money to buy more of that equipment. 

However instead of using that money to buy more of that equipment that already exists, and that we can buy right now, and using that to make sure that we can put out those fires as of now, as soon as we get that in, we decide instead to spend that money inventing a new type of equipment that could be better at putting the fire out but might not, and it may never actually work.  

And we spend our money doing that on the basis that maybe in ten or twenty years’ time, we’ll have super-duper fire equipment which will put out the fire in this house really really well. 

Now in no shape or form does this make sense, but this is basically how we are dealing with the climate crisis right now. We have all the equipment that we need, we have all the ideas that we need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels. We know what to do to start reducing the output of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere from the way we produce food. We know what we need to do to reduce our usage of fossil fuels right now, until such time as we are able to implement renewables at scale.  

But most of the money that is going into so-called impact investment is still going into innovating on these pipe dreams, these pipe dreams that at some point in the future will be able to create a new from of renewable energy which we can continue to sell to people so that we can continue to keep them in energy poverty. So think about that house, think about who’s got the money to pay for that fire equipment, and think about who is holding us back from doing just that. 

We often like to call ourselves as humans, the most successful species on earth – but are we really? Or are we actually the most short-sighted, stupid and selfish? What kind of animal destroys its own food source, what kind of animal destroys the environment that provides its own life support system? 

It gets worse. Not only are we doing that, we are also knocking out the people that are urging us to apply common sense, urging us to use the equipment we have now to put the fire out, and to stop doing all the things that are constantly causing our house to catch fire. And more than that, we are funding people who are actually causing all these fires. Funding the people who are telling us not to worry about the fires, and to just put up with those fires. Give us some money and hopefully in the future we might invent something new, which means that we can sell lots of new energy to you.  

Let’s not worry about this now, in fact let’s just let our children and grandchildren do something about this in the future. 

September 2023 

It seems to me that people with money, be they philanthropists, impact investors or governments, are either interested in campaigning – so raising awareness, raising the appetite to do something about the climate and biodiversity crisis, or at the other end, impact investors who are interested in funding innovation – so coming up with some solutions in the future. 

What nobody seems to want to put their money into is implementation of the solutions we already have now.  

The message I want to give to everybody, whether they’re a small scale investor that’s got a couple of hundred quid to invest, or they’re an extremely wealthy person looking to achieve some good through their wealth (and if they’re not trying to do that, then they really should be), what we really need to be putting our money into is implementation. 

Let’s go back again to thinking about a fire in a house. If your house is on fire, you are beyond the stage of needing to run around and say to your neighbours and everyone else “my house is on fire, I need to do something about it, we need to do something about it, we need to do something about this fire!”. You are beyond that. It’s also not the time to be trying to invent a new type of fire blanket, a new type of fire hydrant or a new type of fire engine. Your house is on fire, and you need to use the firefighting equipment that already exists, you need to put your effort into using that, and that’s what we need to be doing with wealth.  

So right now, it feels to me, that in the impact investment sector it is 95% innovation, and 5% at most, implementation. Whereas what we need is for this to flip around the other way. And I would say the same about philanthropy, as well.   

We have done years of campaigning. We have done years of raising awareness. We have done years of behaviour change. What we need right now is to be putting our money into implementation.  

Most people don’t have choices – we are asking them to live their lives more sustainably, but we are making it really hard for them to do it.  So right now, doing all the wrong things is cheaper. It is cheaper to fly than it is to catch a train. It is easier to use your car than it is to get the bus. And in many places, cycling or walking, for people and their kids, can be pretty stressful and hazardous.  

So what I would say to anyone out there with money at any level, small or large, available to put towards sorting this out, is please can we focus on implementation, and I have got lots of ideas on that. 

Just one that I would throw in straightaway is supporting community energy companies to speed up the pace of getting solar onto community buildings, schools, small businesses and public buildings. That is getting something we all need, energy, into the hands of communities. And we have got to where we are because the control of everything that we need as a society is in the hands of big corporates who only care about making more money. They know and have known for a very long time, what they were doing with their money-hoarding activities, and they have spent decades trying to get us all to think that actually, “everything is fine”, that “no, that climate change issue that we identified back in the 1970s, nothing to look at here, no everything is fine…” 

And then they spent a long time trying to tell the world that it is individuals’ behaviour that was causing the problem. It was individuals spending too long in the shower, leaving the lights on, leaving the TV on standby – that was the problem. Not the fact that they were investing in expanding fossil fuels and failing to invest in renewables and energy-efficiency measures. 

So in terms of achieving impact with money, I think it is really important to look at impact on multiple fronts. If you can find impact that supports the circular economy and is bringing control of assets to community level and it is creating jobs where they are needed, and it is cleaning up the air – fantastic. One of my investments does just that – Kleanbus – they retrofit buses from diesel to electric, so they are reusing the whole bus. Imagine that – the difference in the impact of reusing a whole bus, to for example reusing a coffee cup. They are developing their technology in a very modular way, they are creating systems that can be implemented throughout the UK, so they could be creating jobs in those places that desperately need them because their past industries have failed and nobody has done much to help them develop industries of the future. 

Here’s a few of the innovators that We have the POWER founder Julia Davies is proud to have invested in: 

Reuse & refill

Good Club 

Good Club is the easy way to shop for food, drink, household and personal products sustainably by creating a reusable model offering zero waste to your door and back. 

Ecoeats 

Ecoeats – Zero emissions delivery marketplace platform and service based in St Andrews. They’ll soon be trailing a technology facilitated hyper-convenient takeaway in reusables solution in partnership with the University of St Andrews. The takeaway habit is here to stay and Ecoeats are working with local high street businesses to reduce single use packaging waste and delivery emissions. Making sustainability convenient is key to bringing sustainable habits into the mainstream.   @ecoeatsdelivery 

Circla 

Circla is a ‘milk round’ style delivery service that caters for all your beauty essentials delivering ethically made skincare, shampoos, conditioners and body lotions in glass and aluminium bottles. Sign up and leave your empties on your doorstep and Circla will refill them. Only available in parts of London for now but extending its reach soon. 

Draught Drop 

The reusable milkman style delivery system for beer! London’s first draught beer subscription. Draught Drop deliver local beers to East & North London weekly, in reusable growlers. They’ve partnered with over 20 local independent breweries to bring the best craft beer London has to offer to your door. They choose a different beer each week from a selection of IPA’s, Pales or Lagers. 

Turning down the tap on new

Kidclo 

Kidclo is a fantastic platform for finding the kids clothes you need second hand with the same degree of ease and service as buying new. “New” is not intrinsically better but it is intrinsically less sustainable.  Reused is the new new! Kidclo sort and collate second-hand kid’s clothes. Every time you buy second hand instead of new you are directly tackling the Climate & Ecological Emergency by reducing Carbon emissions, water usage, pollution and exploitation associated with its production. 

NuWardrobe 

NuWardrobe is a community-centred online platform to share clothes with friends and other members. 

Thrift 

Thrift is an online shop to buy and donate the best second-hand fashion. 

Buy Me Once 

Buy Me Once only sell long-lasting products encouraging consumers to only buy things once. 

Smile Plastics 

Smile Plastics is a materials design and manufacturing house making exquisite hand-crafted panels from waste materials. 

Bristol Wood Recycling Project 

Bristol Wood Recycling Project is a social enterprise working to benefit community and environment by transforming waste into shared assets by providing a competitive wood waste collection service, timber yard for trade and public and a wood workshop. 

Divestment – funding a green transition

Clim8 Invest 

Clim8 Invest offer investment products to help people Invest sustainably to fight climate change. 

Sustainable Ventures 

Sustainable Ventures develop, invest in and create workspaces for sustainable businesses. 

Zero Carbon Capital 

Zero Carbon Capital back UK-based early-stage companies on a mission to address the hardest problems of climate change. 

Eating sustainably

Square Mile Farms 

Square Mile Farms bring vertical farms to homes and workplaces leaving more land for nature to thrive. 

Kindling Farm 

Kindling Farm works with communities, farmers, health providers, activists and policymakers to challenge and subvert the industrial food system, a system which fuels the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and economic inequity. 

Better Origin 

Better Origin converts food waste into animal feed preventing the environmental impact of growing animal food elsewhere. 

Aardvark 

Aardvark have developed dog and cat food that uses insects as the protein source and is nutritionally balanced, meat-free for minimal environmental impact. 

Brewdog 

Brewdog is now carbon negative and investing in rewilding projects as part of that initiative. 

Fishtek Marine 

Fishtek Marine develops fishing gear technology that works for fishermen and the environment by reducing by-catch. 

Albotherm 

Albotherm have developed smart temperature regulation for greenhouses reflecting away unwanted light, preventing overheating and lowering the need for carbon and energy intensive cooling systems. 

Restoring Nature

The Scottish Bee Company 

The Scottish Bee Company support the UK’s declining bee population. 

NatureMetrics 

NatureMetrics help monitor biodiversity in contexts ranging from conservation to environmental impact assessments. 

Green energy

Powervault 

Powervault manufacture intelligent, economic and sustainable energy storage systems for homes and businesses. 

Piclo 

Piclo create technology to make our electricity grids smart, efficient, reliable, flexible and more sustainable. 

Naked Energy 

Naked Energy has developed the world’s highest energy density solar technology giving Solar heat and power. 

Power Roll 

Power Roll has reinvented solar to generate energy anywhere and everywhere, using any surface. 

Rovco 

Rovco supplying services and technology to the Offshore Energy Industry across the globe accelerating a clean energy transition. 

Zeigo 

Zeigo is revolutionising the way corporates buy energy accelerating the transition to renewables. 

Dove Renewables 

Dove Renewables owns and operates 2 hydro schemes which generate an average of 820 MWh of clean electricity each year – enough to power the equivalent of approximately 200 homes. 

Schools Energy Co-op 

Schools Energy Co-op installs community funded solar panel systems on schools across the country. 

Dorset Community Energy 

Dorset Community Energy has solar installations on schools and community buildings across Dorset. 

Bristol Energy Cooperative 

Bristol Energy Cooperative has been developing community-owned, green energy generation since 2011. In that time, they’ve installed solar and battery assets, and facilitated community benefit payments. 

Solar for Schools 

The Solar for Schools Community Benefit Society Ltd (CBS) was set-up in 2016 to enable schools to benefit from solar panels without having to invest themselves, yet share in the expected long-term profits, or surplus income generated by each solar project despite very low government subsidies. 

Phycobloom 

Phycobloom produce Algae based biofuels that are made out of the pollution from the sky, instead of the oil in the ground. 

Ionate 

Ionate is a technology company developing next generation Smart Hybrid Transformers revolutionising power flow control to enable the truly future-proof electricity grid. 

Reducing greenhouse gases

Byway Travel 

Byway Travel – Flight free travel   –  hassle free travel adventures where the journey is the destination.  Byway sort the logistics – you soak up the memories. Byway build adventures that don’t rely on flights and showcase that travelling through the world is better than flying over it.  With holidays this good, reducing your Carbon footprint is just an added benefit to an all-round more memorable experience.   Goodbye stressful airports, hello romantic train journeys. 

Caldera Heat Batteries 

Caldera have developed a Warmstone Heat Battery that can turn your own solar energy or cheap off-peak electricity into heat, storing it until you need it for heating and hot water. A fantastic solution for one of the UK’s biggest decarbonisation challenges – heating and hot water in our homes which accounts for 15% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. 

Zedify 

Zedify transform urban logistics and create healthier, more liveable cities of the future. 

AirEX 

AirEX have smart ventilation control systems that increase energy efficiency, prevent household heat loss lowering emissions. 

Biophilica 

Biophilica A new leather equivalent made of leaf matter. Leather is the world’s most environmentally destructive textile with a $500 billion market. PU or PVC synthetic leathers are not the answer, they add to our plastic problem because they can’t biodegrade or be recycled.  The world needs a better leather and Biophilica are on the case. 

Loopcycle   

Loopcycle  Drives the circular economy by allowing industrial scale recycling and reuse of end-of-life products through traceable exchanges between buyers and sellers. 

Reducing pollution

Storm Harvester 

Storm Harvester create ‘smart’ drainage networks that enable the drainage infrastructure of the future. 

CompAir – Air Quality Detection 

Making the invisible killer visible – CompAir devices connect to your smartphone to tell you what’s in the air you’re breathing right now. Currently 90% of us are breathing toxic air. It’s an invisible killer causing 4.9 million premature deaths a year through strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.