TechCrunch Climate 2022: 5 Key Takeaways
We've rounded up key learnings from this year's event on climate tech topics such as renewable energy, corporate social responsibility, and waste management.
Published June 16, 2022
This year’s TechCrunch Sessions: Climate 2022 on Jun 14, 2022 at the University of California, Berkeley featured an exciting lineup of speakers from Bill Gates and Former EPA Director Carol M. Browner, to our very own Persefoni CEO, Kentaro Kawamori, on climate tech topics such as renewable energy, corporate social responsibility, and waste management. In this post, we'll highlight a few key learnings from this year's event.
1. The ROI for clean energy funding requires patience
Breakthrough Energy, founded by Bill Gates, invests in startup companies aiming to accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy. It specifically focuses on companies that have a high risk of failure and a long timeframe (up to 20 years) for ROI, rather than the traditional VC ROI timeframe of about 5 years. Its goal is to fund the next generation of renewable energy and other GHG reduction technologies that are critical to the transition but don’t always receive the funding they deserve because of the high risk and longer time horizon. As Bill mentioned in his panel, “the scale of innovation combined with the amount of change and capital required to mitigate the climate crisis in this short of a time frame has never happened before.”
2. We’re not just trying to green the grid, we’re trying to grow it
The world economy runs on energy, whether from extinct dinosaurs or the Sun. So, as we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels we also need to build other sources of energy generation to keep our economy stable and growing. This is particularly important as we consider that, while we electrify energy for use in areas such as transportation, heating and cooling, etc., combined with the growing global population and demand for energy, we will need a grid three times the size as it is now, all while remaining reliable and cheap.
3. The ecological compromises of renewable energy do not always produce a net-positive
Consider that the physical footprint of energy generation from solar and wind is much larger than that of fossil fuels, with differences in the area required ranging from 100x to 1,000x. Whereas other sources of clean energy such as nuclear require far less space than wind and solar, and are also emission free. Regardless, as land use in the US and around the world undergoes a radical transformation as we build the infrastructure necessary to transition to a carbon-free economy, we need to ensure the survival and growth of natural carbon sinks, communities, and living ecosystems that we’re ultimately trying to protect.
4. Can corporations be good citizens and good investments?
After all, as Milton Friedman said in the 1970s, “an entity's greatest responsibility lies in the satisfaction of the shareholders.” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has been beating the drum for the past few years on this exact topic, proposing that businesses must serve the interests of all of its stakeholders, including but not limited to its shareholders; from its employees, to its customers, communities, and the planet that it operates on. From his perspective, stakeholder capitalism IS capitalism. Persefoni CEO, Kentaro Kawamori wrestled with this question on his panel by explaining that as market forces increasingly value sustainability, as they do costs, the trend toward corporations acting as good citizens will only increase their value as investments and for their shareholders.
5. “Climate tech” is a loaded term
The conference featured an Extreme Tech Challenge showcase where a range of startups competed for a finalist position across the different climate tech categories e.g., clean energy tech, mobility, fintech, etc. According to PwC’s State of Climate Tech 2021, a historic amount of money is being poured into climate tech, which now accounts for 14 cents of every VC dollar. However, as described by PwC and shown by TechCrunch’s startup competition, the definition of climate tech is a broad one, that encompasses innovations across mobility and transport to food and agriculture to climate management and accounting software. As investments in climate tech innovation continue to rise to unprecedented levels, we’re going to see an exciting array of different types of companies and technologies attempting to address climate change and sustainability from every angle imaginable.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our experience at TechCrunch Climate 2022. As always, if you are interested in learning more about climate management and accounting, please reach out to us at persefoni.com, register for a demo, and subscribe to our newsletter.
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Persefoni is a leading Climate Management & Accounting Platform (CMAP). The company’s Software-as-a-Service solutions enable enterprises and financial institutions to meet stakeholder and regulatory climate disclosure requirements with the highest degrees of trust, transparency, and ease. As the ERP of Carbon, the Persefoni platform provides users a single source of carbon truth across their organization, enabling them to manage their carbon transactions and inventory with the same rigor and confidence as their financial transactions.