Outer space

Financing Planet Earth

Until recently, many journalists, investors, entrepreneurs, activists, and politicians needed to explain the importance and urgency of the climate crisis. With the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report – it is now clear that we are heading towards a global disaster.

If we do not decarbonize our economy and change the way we eat, plugin, manufacture goods, and travel, we will face horrifying consequences: hundreds of millions of refugees, food shortages, mass extinction and loss of biodiversity, increasing wildfires, and a variety of nightmare scenarios that are terrifying to even write about.

The pending doom that scientists are afraid of is just one side of our story: we already have a clear solution and plan: decarbonizing our economy. To avoid climate warming and the horrific scenarios it comes with, we must reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the year 2030 and reach a reduction of 100% by 2050.

In order to transform the highest emitting industries, we must first change the way we support and finance innovation. Now is the time to rethink investment mandates, criteria, and financial regulations that can help us design a carbon-free economy.

These days we are witnessing the emergence of the Climate Tech ecosystem in Israel, and all over the world. There are more and more entrepreneurs that are looking to build sustainable businesses – albeit the challenges of raising capital and building a business model while being compared to other, non-life-saving technologies.

We can not afford to wait for this ecosystem to slowly develop over time and “let the market run its course”. We do not have the luxury to stand idly by and hope there will be a natural evolution of innovation. The carbon clock is ticking.

We are in the year 2022, with less than 8 years to reach our challenging – some say impossible – goal. It’s shameful to admit but over 90% of our financial tools and capital are invested in non-planet saving ventures.

We can not continue with the “business as usual” attitude. While we have a clear plan for carbon reduction and removal, we must plan for a more aggressive financial plan for the future of our planet.

Investors of all kinds should re-evaluate their investment strategy and allocation not just for 2030, but for the next quarter. Institutional investors must expand their sustainable investments departments and teams and asset managers should require more extensive carbon transparency from companies. Without the deployment of trillions of dollars in 2022 alone – we have no chance to win the race of decarbonization.

Venture capital funds in Israel have barely discovered the hundreds of companies that already exist in the climate-tech ecosystem in Israel. Without a sharp and fast pivot – from cyber to climate – we will not see the needed innovation develop in time.

Not only funds and capital should re-evaluate policies. Governments should direct sovereign wealth funds to invest solely in climate tech, private funds should receive tax benefits for supporting planet-saving ventures and our pensions should divest completely from fossil fuels and other life-threatening investments. These are just basic examples of how we can direct our wealth toward protecting what matters most.

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. We already have the resources, technology, and knowledge to mitigate this crisis and adapt to its worst-case scenarios. What we need is the courage to change our course and challenge past assumptions on how we design our investment policy and economy. We have no other choice than to demand the impossible.

Written by Itamar Weizman, Partner and Head of Climate Tech at Firstime Venture Capital