🥵 Climate migrants and my experience in New York for Climate Week + Bonus photos of our family office event!🗽
Last week, I was at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, while 12,000 climate migrants on boats sowed chaos between European countries. Welcome to the Climate Tech Week.
My takeaways of history’s biggest Climate Action gathering:
I was there for the biggest Climate Conference in history. Here are my takeaways:
1. Migrants vs. climate cocktails
Before going any further I wanted to put things in perspective and mention a dichotomia that can’t get out of my mind:
While many cocktails and parties were happening in New York for UNGA/Climate Week; Europe was seeing an historical record of migrants with more than 12,000 people flooding within a week, into the small island of Lampedusa in Italy.
A few numbers on the topic of climate migrants:
By 2020, that number had risen to 30.7 million migrants per year—three times more than the number displaced by war and violence.
The number of people living in coastal areas at high risk of flooding has risen from 160 million to 260 million in the past 30 years.
By 2050, the total number of displaced people could rise to as many as 1.2 billion.
95% Climate and conflict displacement often dovetail: according to the UNHCR, 95 percent of all conflict displacements in 2020 were in countries at high risk from the effects of climate change.
We often do not realize what is at stake when we talk about Climate Tech.
High in our ivory towers, last week we had cocktails with family offices and the top 0.001% of the world's wealthiest.
It’s hard to really grasp the situation in which climate change is already affecting the populations of some countries today.
And it’s more likely to only get worse:
Forest fires, hurricanes, and floods: there is nothing much you can do about the rest of the world, your micro-donations do not really matter against these macro trends.
Be grateful and respectful. The only thing you could maybe do is to respect yourself, and respect the rest of the world by really asking yourself, “In this extreme weather event paradigm, are the project I put my time and (big) investment money in, actually Good for the rest of the world?”
I know I do.
2.🌎Climate Week is the new Davos🌏
Last week in NYC, was basically the Super Bowl of climate tech. People mentioned the event was 10 times bigger than last year.
Alongside the United Nations General Assembly, over 600 events spread around New York City for the past week, really like a Climate Tech Super Bowl.
And it was probably one of the best events I attended in the past 5 years, why?
While Davos to me is basically “retired old white people on holiday”, (at least from my experience going there last year - Klaus Schwab is 85 y.o. and deserves a break!)… Climate Week was young, diverse, and really full of tech entrepreneurs taking action, not just talks.
This is probably what Davos wanted to be, and will never be (or used to be 30 years ago).
Several times last week, I saw myself surrounded by 500+ young scientists, tech founders, government executives but also family offices, and investors committed to putting their time and money to work and our next generation a chance.
Last week I witnessed an entire generation walking towards saving the planet, together.
We can. We will.
2. The only shortcut to avoid ☄️ planetary ecocide is 💸 money avoiding distractions.
On the topic of saving our civilization from extinction, I heard several times this week that it was NOT a technological challenge - all innovations exist already - but more of a financing challenge.
As “hard tech” takes lots of resources before commercialization, government subsidies come as the #1 defining factor for seed companies while angels & and VC money came as #2 and mostly for pre-seed.
Focusing funding for vital innovations really seems to be the problem here.
Last year, more than 1 trillion USD have been invested in crypto and nearly completely vanished. That was an example of distractions. Aliens will probably look at us for decades and joke about this.
Guys, we can do better than this. Can’t we?
To be on track to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees, we need 4 trillion per year of decarbonization & climate adaptation investments…
And amongst decarbonization, there are also lots of gadgets and BS that start to emerge, a little reminder here from our last Newsletter:
But this week, connections happened between climate investors and founders, and those connections created magic. Some of my portfolio’s companies got client’s checks written while other friends literally got their last round funded last few days.
Knowing this platform exists gave me faith in humanity (again!).
3.🌲Biodiversity is taking the center stage 🌳:
There are many interesting facts about our times.
One of them is the rise of “Climate Nihilism” amongst not only Gen Y but also Gen Z, with suicides skyrocketing, particularly for you, courageous/mad people, who read the IPCC report, you know what I’m talking about: it’s depressing and can make the nights following reading this report hard to sleep without a glass of whisky.
There are really 2 groups of people:
The ones observing the plane crashing (facts) and giving up on the planet, sometimes on their lives and doubling down on materialism, entertainment, or drugs.
The ones observing the plane crashing (facts) and trying to do something about it, like going to the cockpit and taking over controls for a safer landing.
Sometimes these 2 groups can be found in the same person at different times of the year.
Facts are: There is no success in climate without preserving and regenerating nature and its biodiversity. This week I got blown away by the incredible content, community, and activity coming together solely around #nature and #Biodiversity.
Planetary boundaries are a framework to describe limits to the impacts of human activities on the Earth system. Beyond these limits, the environment may not be able to self-regulate anymore.
This would mean the Earth system would leave the period of stability of the Holocene, in which human society developed.
Look, I started my career in Ecommerce in 2014… I have been pursuing Fintech & Ecommerce greed probably long before you.
But as you can see on the graph, in 2023, we have crossed 6 of the 9 planetary boundaries…
There is no time for greed, no time to fool ourselves with gadgets and tech like crypto-based Co2 trading, carbon offsetting, or “green e-commerce”.
4. We need to stop investing in « Fintech Gadgets » and Carbon trading mermaids 🧜
We really don’t have time for this.
Actual impact will be required to bring to market diverse critical innovations in the next few years (thinking of nuclear power, building retrofitting, Agritech, alongside protecting existing carbon sinks for example).
Adaptation of our cities and their food infrastructure is going to be the key to avoiding a global food crisis with the upcoming extreme weather events our cities are going to suffer in next coming years with the La Niña perturbations.
Here in New York, for Climate Week, the word “sustainability” didn’t make me feel like a buzzword, but more like a roadmap that we all together are already halfway through.
5 )Some of the big 🍿 news I heard about last week:
Leaders from the world’s biggest emitters, including the US, China, UK and France skipped the UN Climate Ambition Summit, an event where member nations voiced concern over the need for further climate action. While climate chief John Kerry did attend, he was not invited to speak. The floor was given to countries making new emissions reduction pledges this year—criteria neither China nor the US met.
The US Department of the Treasury published a set of net zero financing principles in line with previous calls to action from the G7, G20, and IMF.
Lowercarbon Capital announced two new funds totaling over $550M, while scolding other investors for dealing in “blood money.” Blood money refers to money coming from Big Oil or Mining. You know my take on taking UAE money for example and it seems like I’m not the only one with that stance (Cheers Chris Sacca!).
JUST Climate, a $1.5B private equity fund by Generation Investment, will focus on industrial climate solutions and have 100% of its fund manager profit share (aka, carried interest, promote) tied to hitting climate metrics, not just financial metrics.” — This is huge and should make all fund managers quiver.
“The Department of Energy proposes that Adoption Readiness Levels (ARL) should be a new measure to complement Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) metrics.” — Good idea. Once a project achieves TRL 9 (top of the scale for new tech), it’s not yet bankable at scale for project financiers.
“95% of all GHG emissions between now and 2100 will come from outside the U.S.” — While the U.S. is a big player and our actions have ripple effects beyond our borders, the real work is to be done overseas.
“We’re lucky to be alive now in order to have a fighting chance to reverse the worst of climate change.” — As daunting as it can feel sometimes to do this hard work right now, it would be much worse to fast forward 50 years where our ability to make changes was smaller and even harder.
We hosted 15 family offices and 100+ climate tech investors & founders at our Atlas event in New York
Last 3 weeks, we got busy bringing to the table our own event during Climate Week, and we crushed it!
🌍 Atlas Society hosted a new flagship conference in New York during #ClimateWeek
🚀 'Investors for Climate Tech - NYC' is the result of a collaboration between 🌏 The Atlas Capital (Singapore) and the Altru Institute (New York).
✅ We aimed to mobilize capital to focus on vital innovations for our society and planet. And that is the mandate of our fund at The Atlas Capital. You can learn more here: https://lnkd.in/gndzC6u
✨ With more than 100 guests, including 15 family offices, 20 venture capitalists and 10 speakers, we made some magic by facilitating hundreds of connections that are mobilizing this capital!
🤵👩💼 Interactive discussions were led by Brett Johnson, Stephanie Potter, and Myself on the best ways to source, screen, and finance the most important climate solutions.
⚡ Our participants included executives & industry leaders from the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Rothschild, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, H&M Foundation, SOSV, Earthshot Ventrues, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, LowerCarbon Capital, Bezos Earth Fund, S&P 500, NEOM, Temasek, BlackRock, Sequoia, Frontier, Bloomberg, Singularity University, and more.
🙏 Special thank you, to everyone who attended our 'Investors for Climate Tech - New York', and stay tuned for our 6 upcoming exclusive investors focused events across 3 continents.