Giving Compass' Take:
- Elevate Future Fund is seeking (and investing in) the diverse talent of climate technology founders with innovative ideas for the future.
- How can other funds follow this framework? How will diversity lead to bolder solutions?
- Learn about accelerating progress against climate change.
What is Giving Compass?
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This is one of those weeks where it’s both exhausting and exhilarating to be a corporate climate journalist — the former, because the data about the damage that’s already been done by unchecked industrial development is so damning and depressing, but the latter because I’m wired to be hopeful that humankind has the ingenuity and will to act. But I’m preaching to the choir, I guess.
So, instead of focusing on all the worst-case socioeconomic scenarios laid out by this week’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, I choose to embrace the first one, "Sustainability — Taking the Green Road." This is what could happen if governments and businesses focus on inclusive development that "respects perceived environmental boundaries." In particular, I’m inspired by the possibilities of this part of the description: "Driven by an increasing commitment to achieving development goals, inequality is reduced both across and within countries."
That hopeful future is explored in a report out last week by RethinkX, which believes that "cheaper, clean disruptive technologies" in the transportation, energy and food sector can reduce emissions by 90 percent by 2035. (Yes, just 14 years.) "Although these disruptions are ultimately inevitable due to economic forces, how slow or fast these technologies scale globally falls largely on policymakers and their willingness to act quickly — or not," said RethinkX research fellow Adam Dorr, in a statement. "Societal choices matter, and technology alone is not enough to achieve net-zero emissions and avoid the risk of dangerous climate change."
Which brings me to the real focus of this week’s column, the new Elevate Future Fund announced in late July by Energy Impact Partners, the $2 billion investment coalition that includes a who’s-who list of utilities such as Duke Energy, Southern Co. and Xcel Energy, along with a bit of an outlier, Microsoft.
With literally billions of dollars flowing into climate tech, what makes this fund unique? For starters, it includes $120 million for ventures founded or managed by diverse talent, in many senses of the word. Plus, the CEO and managing partner, Anthony Oni, is actually someone who is diverse: a Black entrepreneur with long-time executive experience in the utility sector (Alabama Power, Southern Company). Oni also founded Cloverly, an Atlanta-based carbon offsets startup that just received $2.1 million in seed backing led by Softbank Opportunity Fund, a $100 million fund focused specifically on supporting Black founders.
Read the full article about diversity in climate technology by Heather Clancy at GreenBiz.