Impact Investing for Climate Change

As climate change continues to pose severe threats to our planet and societies, impact investing emerges as a key financial tool to meet these challenges. By integrating financial decisions with environmental goals, impact investing offers the dual benefit of generating financial returns while also taking action toward sustainability.

This post will explore the multifaceted world of impact investing for climate change, and its alignment with global regulatory changes and market shifts towards sustainability. From renewable energy to sustainable agriculture, you will learn how your investments can have a significant positive impact on the environment.

The Risks of Climate Change

Climate change presents a multitude of risks that could have severe and far-reaching consequences for both the natural environment and human societies. Understanding these risks is crucial for planning and implementing strategies to mitigate potential impacts. The major risks of climate change include:

Increased Frequency of Extreme Weather Events: Climate change can lead to the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and heatwaves, leading to loss of life, property damage, and disruptions to social and economic systems.1

Rising Sea Levels: As global temperatures rise, polar ice melts, leading to a rise in sea levels. This can result in coastal erosion, increased flooding, and the displacement of populations living in low-lying coastal areas.1

Threats to Biodiversity: Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can disrupt ecosystems and threaten biodiversity. Species unable to adapt or migrate may face extinction, impacting food chains and ecosystem health.1

Public Health Risks: Climate change can exacerbate health problems such as heat-related illnesses and diseases spread by insects and pests. Changes in climate can also affect air and water quality, leading to further health issues.2

Economic Disruptions: Changes in weather patterns can negatively affect industries like agriculture, fishing, tourism,  leading to economic instability and job losses. Furthermore, the costs associated with responding to and recovering from extreme weather events can be significant. 3

Can Impact Investing Help Solve Climate Changes Issues?

Climate investing holds significant potential to help solve the world’s climate issues. When you invest in companies focused on climate solutions, you’re giving them the financial backing they need to grow, innovate, and make a difference.

Consider, for example, what happens when you invest in a company developing cutting-edge renewable energy technology. Your investment helps them expand their research, enhance their technology, and even roll out their solutions on a larger scale. Through this, you’re contributing to the growth of sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. You’re part of the transition towards a cleaner energy future.

However, climate investing doesn’t stop at energy. There are numerous sectors where your investments can make an impact. Maybe it’s a company working on sustainable agriculture, lowering the carbon footprint of food production. Perhaps it’s a business retrofitting infrastructure with more environmentally-conscious features. Each investment decision you make can be a step towards a more sustainable world.

What’s more, your climate investing also serves as a powerful signal to the market. When green companies start to attract more investments, others take notice. It may encourage other businesses to adopt sustainable practices or stimulate new startups to tackle climate change. Over time, this could shift the entire market towards sustainability, multiplying your impact.

As the world wakes up to the reality of climate change, companies that provide solutions are well-positioned for growth. You can be at the forefront of this trend, potentially reaping financial rewards while contributing to the climate solution.

Trends in Impact Investing for Climate Change

As the world pivots towards a more sustainable future, the realm of climate change investing continues to evolve and expand. Below, is an examination of key trends that are shaping the world of climate change investing:

Many Sectors are at Risk: Diverse sectors face considerable climate change threats, impacting agriculture through extreme weather disrupting farming, real estate due to rising sea levels endangering coastal properties, and banks considering loan risks to flood-prone areas. Also, insurers may see higher claims due to weather events, utilities may face strain with increased cooling demands, consumer goods companies could experience supply disruptions, and energy-intensive tech companies might confront threats to their operations.4

China Leads In Renewable Energy Investments: Between 2010 and 2019, China led the global stage in renewable energy funding, surpassing Europe and almost double the investments of the U.S., indicating its significant commitment to sustainable energy solutions.4  China continues to dominate as the leading, fastest-expanding producer of renewable energy with significant movement into wind power.5

Momentum in Adaptation and Resilience Investing: With climate-related disasters projected to rise significantly, S&P Global predicts more investments will be needed in technologies supporting adaptation, especially for lower-income countries. In 2023, it is expected that adaptation and resilience financing will be in the limelight, with innovative financing instruments like debt-for-climate swaps and adaptation and resilience bonds gaining interest.6

Emergence of Lab-Grown Commodities: Lab-grown commodities such as diamonds, leather, and cotton are becoming mainstream as companies, to address environmental and social concerns, increasingly invest in them. With better supply chain control and lower environmental risks, these offer feasible alternatives to traditionally sourced materials. However, challenges remain around consumer preference and pricing. Potential large-scale impact and consequences are also still under scrutiny.7

Greener Industrial Real Estate and Steel Production: A growing commitment towards carbon reduction in the steel industry is noticeable with companies adopting net-zero commitments. Although costly, low-carbon steel production alternatives are being explored to tackle hurdles associated with traditional methods. Concurrently, industrial real estate sees a green revolution, catalyzed by the e-commerce boom and incentives for decarbonization. Aging facilities are being retrofitted with new rebates while green certification programs attract attention, driving the development of less carbon-intensive, energy-efficient buildings.7

Policy and Regulation

Key policies and regulations have emerged that are significantly shaping the landscape of impact investing for climate change. These actions, driven by global governmental bodies, aim to create an environment conducive to the transition toward sustainability:

Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the United States will allocate $370 billion through tax credits and various subsidies to support the development of novel energy solutions.8

New Emissions and Fuel Standards for Vehicles: Established by the EPA in 2021, these standards for 2023-2026 model cars and light trucks unlock $190 billion in benefits, including pollution reduction and fuel savings, while avoiding 3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. They also lay the groundwork for stricter 2027 and beyond regulations, accelerating the shift to a zero-emissions future.9

The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020: This act empowers the EPA to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—potent greenhouse gasses used in applications like air conditioning and refrigeration—and manage their substitutes, promoting the shift towards HFC-free technologies.9

European Union’s Green Deal: Aiming for climate neutrality by 2050, the Green Deal includes policy initiatives across sectors. Key actions involve ‘Fit for 55’ climate legislation revision, European Climate Law for binding targets, biodiversity and food system strategies, and financial support for fossil fuel-dependent regions. The deal underscores sustainability, circularity, and environmental protection.10

Impact Investing Options for Climate Change

Below, are different impact investment options. They outline a range of opportunities available for investors seeking to combat climate change through their portfolio decisions.

Reduce

Investment options in the reduction of climate change mainly focus on innovations that curtail greenhouse gas emissions, particularly by fostering renewable energy technologies. An investor can channel resources into solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power companies that are at the forefront of reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Investments can also be made in businesses that improve energy efficiency. For example, take smart grid technologies, which work to lower overall energy demand and, consequently, reduce emissions.

Another exciting area of reduction is the transition to a circular economy. Investments in this sphere promote waste reduction and resource efficiency, emphasizing recycling, remanufacturing, and reusing materials. Companies innovating in this space aim to reduce the environmental footprint of consumerism, offering a compelling opportunity for impact investors.

Remove

Turning to investment options that contribute to the removal of greenhouse gasses, there are several promising avenues. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, which capture carbon dioxide emissions at their source and store them underground, are one such area. These technologies have a pivotal role to play in decarbonizing industries such as power generation, cement, and steel production, which have historically been major contributors to global emissions.

Another removal strategy to consider is investing in companies with reforestation and afforestation initiatives. Forests act as powerful carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Supporting projects that restore and protect forests can help counterbalance emissions elsewhere.

Lastly, an emerging field of interest is direct air capture technology. These are systems that pull carbon dioxide out of the air. While still in their early stages, companies developing these technologies represent a frontier for those looking to invest in carbon removal.

Retrofit

Investments aimed at retrofitting our societies for climate resilience cover a broad range of sectors, including water, food, infrastructure, and transportation. In the water sector, for instance, opportunities exist to invest in companies that are improving water efficiency, reducing water waste, or developing innovative technologies for water purification and desalination.

In the food industry, one can  invest in sustainable agriculture initiatives that work to increase food production efficiency, reduce waste, and promote soil health. Investments in plant-based or lab-grown meat alternatives can also contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of the food sector.

In the infrastructure domain, investments can be directed towards green building technologies that promote energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of urban development. Meanwhile, in the transportation sector, exciting opportunities exist in electric vehicle technology, hydrogen fuel cells, and public transit innovations.

How to Get Started in Impact Investing for Climate Change

To get started in impact investing for climate change, you first need to set clear objectives that balance your financial goals with your desire to combat climate change. Your climate objectives could range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to promoting renewable energy. It’s crucial to have these goals in mind as they guide your investment decisions.

Following this, you need to perform due diligence on potential investment opportunities. Look for companies, organizations, and funds that not only show promising financial returns but also align with your climate change objectives. Pay close attention to their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scores, a widely accepted measure of a company’s sustainability and ethical impact.

Once you’ve identified potential investment opportunities, it’s time to diversify your portfolio. It’s wise not to put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, spread your investments across different sectors and technologies. This strategy not only increases the potential for financial returns but also broadens the environmental impact of your investments.

Next, measure the impact of your investments. Use quantifiable metrics and standards to track how your investments are contributing to your climate change objectives. This is critical for understanding the real-world impact of your investments and adjusting your strategy as necessary.

Lastly, remember to be patient. Impact investing for climate change is a long-term strategy. While the financial returns may not be immediate, the potential for positive environmental impact is substantial.

Colorado Capital Management Helps You With Impact Investing

At Colorado Capital Management, we understand the profound and lasting impact that climate change has on our world and the vital role impact investing can play in addressing these challenges. We’re deeply committed to guiding our clients towards investments that are not only financially rewarding, but also actively contribute to the mitigation of climate change and promote a more sustainable future.

With our expertise and commitment to making a difference, we can help you navigate the diverse landscape of climate impact investing, from renewable energy to sustainable agriculture, and everything in between. Together, we can help you align your financial decisions with your environmental objectives, allowing your capital to drive both economic growth and sustainable practices.

Our team is ready to assist you in setting clear investment objectives, performing thorough due diligence on potential opportunities, and measuring the impact of your investments. Don’t hesitate to start making a difference, contact us today.


Sources:

https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/causes-effects-climate-change
https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/climate/climate-change-impacts
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47063
https://www.bankrate.com/investing/climate-change-investing-guide/
https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/china-widens-renewable-energy-supply-lead-with-wind-power-push-2023-03-01/#:~:text=As%20Europe%20had%20been%20the,system%20at%20a%20record%20pace.
https://www.spglobal.com/esg/insights/featured/special-editorial/key-sustainability-trends-that-will-drive-decision-making-in-2023
https://www.msci.com/documents/1296102/35124068/ESG+and+Climate+Trends+to+Watch+for+2023.pdf
https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/sustainability/our-insights/climate-investing-continuing-breakout-growth-through-uncertain-times
https://www.epa.gov/climate-change/climate-change-regulatory-actions-and-initiatives
https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/green-deal/


 

Lee Strongwater, Senior Financial Advisor
Senior Financial Advisor

An entrepreneur and world traveler, Colorado Capital Management vice president and co-owner Lee Strongwater brings a global perspective to investments and life planning.

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Jason Black, Financial Advisor (CFP)

Jason Black, CFP ®

With a drive to live purposefully and passionately, Jason focuses on helping clients to live in abundance.

Jason is a partner and senior advisor at Colorado Capital Management.  He brings more than 15 years of varied experience working in the financial services industry. He joined CCM after a long search to find the perfect firm that aligned well with his values and mission. Jason is passionate about helping individuals and families live abundant and intentional lives. He is proud to be part of a Certified B Corporation, doing meaningful financial and investment planning for clients, while also focusing on socially responsible business practices and making a positive impact. As a Chartered SRI CounselorSM, Jason has a strong background and keen interest in sustainable investing and enjoys helping clients understand the merits of this approach. Jason is also a Certified Financial Planner™ and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado. 

Before joining CCM, Jason worked with Jackson National as a consultant for financial advisors. He helped create meaningful connections with families, creative asset allocation strategies, and tax-advantaged retirement-income solutions. During his tenure there he worked with over four thousand financial advisors across the country, was recognized multiple times as consultant of the year, and also managed a team of twenty-five individuals. 

Jason is happily married to his wife, Bridget, of thirteen years, who he met while in college at CU. Together they have a son and daughter, and a Frenchie named Coco Disco. They live in the Whisper Creek neighborhood of Arvada. When Jason is not at work, he and his  family can often be found making turns in Summit County, wakesurfing in Glendo, WY, cooking, dancing and traveling.

Erica Loughrey, Associate Financial Advisor

Erica Loughrey

Erica is passionate about providing purposeful advice to help clients enjoy a meaningful life.

Erica is an advisor at CCM. She joined the firm in 2021, fulfilling her desire to work for a values-based company with a deep commitment to making an impact. She moved from her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska and quickly fell in love with the sunny and beautiful state of Colorado. She brought with her prior experience as a para-planner and is delighted to be engaged in a profession that empowers individuals to flourish financially. She believes strongly in exceptional client service and creating lifelong generational relationships.

In 2022, she accomplished two of her major career goals, finishing her master’s degree in financial planning (MSFP) and earning her Certified Financial Planner™ designation.

Erica enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling to exotic locales. In her free time, you can find her out skiing, hiking, scuba diving, practicing yoga or jetting off to new places to explore. She has a never-ending list of travel plans, having already visited over 20 countries, and feels lucky to have so many wonderful opportunities and adventures.

Lee Strongwater, Senior Financial Advisor

Lee Strongwater, WMS

An entrepreneur and world traveler, Colorado Capital Management vice president and co-owner Lee Strongwater brings a global perspective to investments and life planning.

For more than 15 years, Lee has passionately assisted clients with their financial planning and portfolio management needs. He especially enjoys helping them live more meaningful lives and invest in ways that are aligned with their values. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. He also holds the Wealth Management Specialist (WMS) certification.

Before joining Colorado Capital Management, Lee was a managing partner at Strongwater-Schott, a fee-only investment management and financial planning firm in Denver. Prior to that, he was an entrepreneur who helped start and manage several small firms, including a children’s product company that went public in 2007.

Lee is an active volunteer for several organizations. He is a past President and current member of the Board of Directors for the Boulder Jewish Community Center, an organization that is highly respected on both a local and national level. Lee is also on the Investment Committee of Girl Rising-Global Education, a venture philanthropy fund that invests in social entrepreneurs with culturally-relevant ideas. The fund’s investments promote gender equality and improve educational outcomes for girls and boys living in poverty in Kenya and India.

Lee is married and has two daughters. He enjoys hiking, skiing, traveling—mostly to Mediterranean countries—and trying out new recipes from his journeys. When he’s not on the go you can find him engrossed in a book.

Steve Ellis, Senior Financial Advisor

Steven Ellis, CFA

Steve Ellis has spent his career making an impact, so it’s not surprising that Colorado Capital Management’s founder and president launched the firm’s entry into impact investing.

He brings over 30 years of experience as a financial advisor to high net worth clients. His early work included teaching college courses in accounting and finance, consulting for a major accounting firm, and researching and acquiring investments as the chief due diligence officer of a leading national financial planning firm. Since 1989, he has advised individual and institutional investors on the management of their wealth. Steve is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), holds a business degree from the University of Colorado, magna cum laude, and a master’s degree from Cornell University.

Steve launched the firm’s entry into impact investing in 2012 and is committed to helping build the field. Steve is a passionate speaker on the topic. He has taught about impact investing at various conferences and classes around the country, including as a past faculty member at Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He is listed in the Who’s Who in Impact Investing.

Steve is married, with two daughters, enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, tennis and bridge, and is actively involved in the community. He has served on numerous boards and committees for a wide array of nonprofit organizations, including the Boulder JCC, Rose Community Foundation, Jewish Family Service, and Friendship Bridge. His passion for impact and community service helped lead Colorado Capital Management to become a Certified B Corporation and to build a strong culture of volunteerism and philanthropy.