Climate Endowment Fund

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Elizabeth Steel
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The Climate Endowment Group is an investment company that funnels funds towards sustainable infrastructure programmes, specifically hydropower and forestry schemes. The company describes themselves as “industry agnostic” in the sense that they are open to investing in all sorts of sustainable infrastructure solutions. Currently, the investments are only focused on projects in Europe. They mention their focus on supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for instance numbers 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and 9 (sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure). They measure their success by the carbon emissions they prevent from being emitted. Whilst overall this company has a positive approach to changing the loop of destructive consumption of energy, there are several substantial limitations with this fund. 

What it's made of:


The Climate Endowment Group is made up of several fund channels where they direct investments into hydropower projects and forestry funds (and plan to expand into other forms of sustainable infrastructure). They categorise their work as providing “access to a diversified portfolio of mid-sized European run-of-river hydropower plants.” Their projects are limited to Europe – whilst it is a relatively new company, making this is unsurprising, they lose credibility as a wholly sustainable fund since they fail to adopt higher-risk projects in other less developed continents.
Through their hydropower schemes alone, CEG targets annual CO2 reduction of more than 630,000 tonnes, however, across their website there is a huge issue with transparency. I haven’t been able to find any evidence to see how successful they actually are in relation to this scheme. They also have a large forestry project, but there is less information about the goals/successes of this, as this seems to be one of their less established projects.
The Climate Endowment Group collaborates with other companies such as eHydro500 (a renewable asset management company focused solely on hydropower) for many of their projects – as well as seeking to promote sustainable projects, the Climate Endowment Group also state that they apply high standards of sustainability criteria to not only the investment projects themselves, but also in the establishment of funds and sub-funds - this is important, as this represents the capital investment that goes towards these projects and is a way of ensuring that the money invested in these projects is sustainable. Though this is a commendable goal, CEG once again lacks any substantive proof that they are following through with this.

How it's made:


The Climate Endowment Group functions by investing in operational sustainable infrastructure that have a lifespan of over 80 years (however, once again the criteria for assessing this is something they give very little information on). They differentiate between brownfield (already urban spaces) and greenfield (non-developed) sites – on the front page of their website they advertise focusing on brownfield sites as sources of development, but their actual reports show the balance between the two is equal. However, this is problematic, as instead of converting already developed spaces into sustainable infrastructure, they are developing currently green space, which often involves deforestation/the disruption of natural habitats. The investments are made by the putting every new investment/endowment prospect through a Do-No-Significant Harm criterion, which involves questions such as how much greenhouse gases are emitted and the effect on stability of nearby water systems. Whilst this is obviously positive, it accepts a very low standard of care and threshold for sustainability. Also, this assessment of sustainability and harm is done at the time of the investment decision rather than continuously throughout development; this means CEG accepts very little culpability for any changes to level of harm caused by their assessments and investments. 

Who makes it:


Whilst the Climate Endowment Group advertises having a “culturally diverse” workforce, there is very little evidence of this being the case. They don’t offer statistics or evidence on diversity or working conditions, and the only information available about the people who make up this company are on the founders, partners, and the investment team; all of these members are white men, suggesting that this advertised diversity is patently untrue. If there is diversity within their workforce, this can only be in the lower ranks of the workforce, suggesting that it in this respect, it is not an impressive company at all.