Helping fund community net zero solutions

Written by Lisa Ashford on 5th Nov 2021

This article is an extract from our new Good Guide to Net Zero, which explains what net zero actually is, how it affects you, and how you can apply the concept to your own life and finances. In partnership with Triodos Bank, Ecology Building Society, Nest pensions, Ethex and Make My Money Matter.

As Glasgow hosts the COP26 Climate Summit, the world is waiting to learn what policies will be adopted by governments to ensure a global reduction in greenhouse gases to meet our net zero commitments by 2050. But while we wait for the policy-makers to hammer out any agreements for action, everyday people around the UK and beyond are taking climate action into their own hands. Both in terms of direct actions as well as investing to support some extraordinary organisations operating across the UK who are pioneering new approaches to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

While COP26 is no doubt a pivotal moment for accelerating global climate action, 2021 has already seen an upsurge in support for grassroots, community-based projects and organisations that are taking direct and positive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and people from all walks of life are using the power of their money to enable this to happen both in the UK and beyond.

Investing for net zero – what does it mean?

The UK Government’s net zero target enshrines in law that the UK will lower greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100 per cent based on 1990 levels by 2050. The goal of net zero emissions is to prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees celsius by 2100. Currently, the temperature increase sits at 1.1 degrees of warming – so we need to act much faster if we are to limit the catastrophic effects of climate change which Europe saw in summer this year with extreme flooding and wildfires.

But what can we do as individuals? One of the most powerful ways of tackling climate change is to ensure your money is not supporting activities that are generating excess carbon emissions, and then channelling it to fund organisations that are actively working to cut them. Each and every one of us has the ability to accelerate the UK’s action on climate change, ideally delivering net zero well in advance of the 2050 deadline.

And the opportunities for low carbon impactful investments are plentiful. A recent report from IPPR on communities and climate action identified a range of activities already being undertaken by communities to tackle climate change. The report found that solutions to addressing climate change already exist at a community level and there is a big opportunity for us to invest in these to enable them to rapidly scale – improving the resilience of communities, creating fairer societies and protecting the planet, as well as targeting competitive financial returns.*

Community action for global challenges

At Ethex, we’ve been helping everyday people make ethical investments that fund extraordinary and pioneering community organisations for nearly ten years because we believe they are at the heart of delivering the low carbon economy we need.

And while the UK Government has pledged to level up, delivering opportunities and prosperity for all, in reality, it’s community-owned organisations like Low Carbon Hub, Energise Barnsley, Solar for Schools and Kindling Farm that are making things happen, delivering a just transition to a sustainable economy.

Exploring climate action in action

The Ethex platform is proud to feature some groundbreaking community organisations that are innovating and working together with local councils and stakeholders to deliver the solutions we desperately need to make progress to our net zero goals.

Since 2016, community energy organisation, Energise Barnsley has installed solar panels on hundreds of council-owned properties in the Barnsley area, including over 320 council homes, working in partnership with the local authority to cut carbon emissions, tackle fuel poverty and improve the local community.

In this time, they have become the largest joint local authority and community energy project in the UK, generating over 5,513MWhs of clean energy, saving 2,922+ tonnes of CO2. This has created over £278,844 of collective savings for tenants on their electricity bills, and installed 150 smart batteries, generating an additional £300,000 in energy bill savings. In addition, they have generated over £79,000 surplus income that has been used to fund community initiatives, an excellent example of multiple impacts.

It’s an opportunity for us all to take a stand, using the power in our pockets to create a greener future, funding innovative solutions to deliver on the UK’s net-zero commitments.

And in Oxfordshire EZ-Charge has partnered with Oxfordshire County Council and the University of Oxford to develop the Park and Charge project to install and operate 280 Electric Vehicle charge points in public car parks across Oxfordshire. By providing simple and accessible charging facilities to 2,800 EV owners each year, the project will help Oxfordshire reach its net-zero goals and encourage more people to switch to electric transport.

Thousands of householders in Greater Manchester have benefitted from the retrofitting expertise provided by People-Powered Retrofit over the last two years, helping create more energy-efficient homes, saving on energy bills and carbon emissions. Formed as a partnership between Carbon Co-op and URBED, the service also trains tradespeople in the green skills of retrofitting homes that will continue to serve the communities they work in for many years to come.

These are just three fantastic examples of innovative organisations working collaboratively with local authorities and other partners to help us make real progress towards our net-zero goals, even before COP26 has started.

Be a part of it


Organisations like the ones above are in need of affordable finance in order to help them scale and grow and through platforms like Ethex, people like you can invest to help them targeting annual returns of around five per cent*. It’s an opportunity for us all to take a stand, using the power in our pockets to create a greener future, funding innovative solutions to deliver on the UK’s net-zero commitments. Will you get on board?

*Please note that investing with Ethex puts your capital at risk and returns are not guaranteed.

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