Bloomberg Green Summit
April 26, 2023
A preeminent gathering of climate champions meeting at the crossroads of sustainability, science and culture, the third annual Bloomberg Green Summit highlighted the solutions needed to address the planet’s most pressing climate challenges. We took a look at a range of topics, from TV shows to turning carbon pollution into everyday products.
- Hina Baloch, Executive Director & Global Head, Climate Change Communications & Strategy, General Motors
- Kevin Bender, Senior Director, Sustainable Debt, The Nature Conservancy
- Ignacio Bincaz, Head of North America, H2Pro
- Scott Z. Burns, Executive Producer & Creator, Extrapolations
- Serene Chen, Vice President, People & Culture, Carbon Direct
- Hon. Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment, Government of Belize
- Jill Dauchy, Founder & CEO, Potomac Group LLC
- Lucas Di Grassi, Professional Racing Driver, FIA Formula E World Championship
- Dorothy Fortenberry, Executive Producer, Extrapolations
- Lynn J. Good, Chair, President & CEO, Duke Energy
- Katie Hall, Co-Executive Chair, Galvanize Climate Solutions
- Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder & President, Runwise
- Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech
- Cristina Paslar, Executive Vice President, ESG Products, Mastercard
- John Podesta, Senior Advisor, Clean Energy Innovation & Implementation; Chair, National Climate Task Force, The White House
- Tulika Raj, CEO & Co-Founder, SunGreenH2
- Tom Steyer, Co-Executive Chair, Galvanize Climate Solutions
- Ira Boudway, Senior Reporter, Bloomberg
- John Fraher, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg
- Caroline Hyde, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- Leslie Kaufman, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Lauren Kiel, General Manager, Bloomberg Green
- Francine Lacqua, Editor-At-Large & Anchor, Bloomberg TV
- Jon Moore, CEO, BloombergNEF
- Kal Penn, Host, Bloomberg Originals Series, Getting Warmer; Actor & Author
- Akshat Rathi, Senior Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Eric Roston, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Aaron Rutkoff, Executive Editor, Bloomberg Green
- Alix Steel, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
- Meg Szabo, Senior Editor, Bloomberg Green & Sustainability Events
- Natasha White, Reporter, Bloomberg Green
- Todd Woody, Climate and Environmental Reporter, Bloomberg
Mobilizing Capital for Climate Solutions
Creating businesses that win in the marketplace and bring the power of capitalism to solving the climate crisis is the focus of Galvanize Climate Solutions, according to Tom Steyer, Co-Executive Chair. Annual investments of $4 trillion are predicted, but it’s also about being “climate companies” across industries.
Different measuring technologies and solid data will come into play, such as in Europe, where there will be border adjustments and emission charges, he said. “There’s another accounting taking place in the natural world, in real time, and that is changing things.” Just ten years ago, climate awareness was completely different. “You go forward 10 years, we will be in a very different place in the natural world that will be demanding very different things from the businesses, and peoples and governments of this world.”
On commitments within economic realities, people realize it’s a time of radical transitions, across our energy system, said Katie Hall, Co-Executive Chair, Galvanize Climate Solutions. “It’s massive disruption. But in fact, investors are drawn to massive disruption, because out of that huge chaos and change there will be big winners, there are going to be big losers, and everything in-between. This may be the opportunity of our lifetime, from an investment perspective.” Also being part of climate solutions makes it a “dual hook.” The goal is to create investments that are not compromises, but promise compelling returns.
BNEF Talk: World Views
Jon Moore, CEO, BloombergNEF offered graphs and analysis of its 2023 New Energy Outlook, and key global drivers in the sector through 2050, from policies and technology cost curves to energy supply financing. Net zero commitments have moved in three years from nine to 70%, and 2022’s $1.1 trillion in investments represent a $196 trillion opportunity. The transition over the next 28 years will take a like mindset, Moore said, with financing, technology and policymakers all taking the same world view. “If we can do that, then I think we’re in very good shape for net zero, mid-century.”
Investing in Biodiversity
Kevin Bender, Senior Director, Sustainable Debt, The Nature Conservancy spoke to Belize’s $364 million debt-for-nature swap and the key ingredients, including opening up the solution to institutional investors. By finding readily available discounts in the capital markets, they were able to apply the savings to conservation efforts. “What really made it happen was that Belize had high ambitions for conservation, and a high commitment on the forest and ocean sides.” It became a matter of adding their progress to the financing documentation.
“It wasn’t hard for us to make those commitments because those were our goals already,” said Hon. Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, and Investment, Government of Belize. The investment was part of an overall debt restructuring, including those with Venezuela and Taiwan, reducing debt to GDP from 133% to 64%, with economic indicators improving dramatically. The transaction reduced debt by 12%, “a significant overall impact.” He noted the move required political will by the government, which included10% cuts to public sector wages and resulting strikes, but ultimately, credibility for Belize, as well as significant increases in biodiversity zones.
Jill Dauchy, Founder & CEO, Potomac Group LLC referenced a recent IMF report that stated 34 of the 59 countries most vulnerable to climate change are also in debt distress. They are realizing they need to solve both crises simultaneously and are looking to new initiatives to come together in this goal, developing frameworks that work for all. “Countries themselves are linking these initiatives, and are pushing the international community to think about it in this way, and saying, ‘we need to think creatively about these solutions.’ The Belize transaction starts to point the way forward. The challenge is how to scale it.”
Changemaker Conversation: Clean Energy Future
Given its scale, Duke Energy is leading the largest clean energy transition in the U.S., with plans to spend over $145 billion over the next decade. Lynn J. Good, Chair, President & CEO said they also have the challenges of extreme weather, organize a military-like response, and keep records of impacts, to invest in minimizing impacts.
When it comes to reliability, she is a firm believer in continuing to use nuclear energy, as well as natural gas, which picks up the slack in power generation from renewables, and nuclear energy. “Nuclear, for us, is essential. I cannot meet any target without nuclear because I start from a place where 80% of my carbon-free generation comes from nuclear. If you are a resident of North or South Carolina, 50% of your power comes from nuclear. I cannot replace those plants with something that runs 95% of the time and is carbon-free.”
Duke is also working to move to commercial scale small nuclear reactors and advanced nuclear. “My hope is that when we need them in the 2030s, they’ll be ready to go.
Changemaker Conversation: Racing to Net Zero
Lucas Di Grassi, Professional Racing Driver, FIA Formula E World Championship helped create the fully electric, open-wheel racing circuit nine years ago to continue motorsports’ development of the technology, and to change public perception of EVs. From a racing perspective, “It’s a very different experience,” he said, explaining that while purists denounce the lack of engine noise, “You can hear the crowd, and the suspension moving, and tire noise. It’s changed my relationship to racing.”
Initially, two cars were required to finish a race, with drivers given eight seconds in a pit stop to jump from one car to the other, including unbuckling and buckling harnesses. Batteries have improved, but remain a challenge. Now on Generation 3 cars, “It’s a big leap forward.”
Among the technology conventional carmakers are borrowing from Formula E is a 97% efficient engine that will increase range, magnetic brakes that don’t wear and regenerate the battery, and fast charging that could translate to a 5-minute full charge on a passenger car. Di Grassi also spoke about working on clean air initiatives with the UN, and the massive boost to human health EVs represent.
Zurich Sponsor Spotlight: Listen to the Zurich Forest
The Zurich Forest Project began in 2020 as a unique collaboration forged by Mario Greco, Zurich Insurance Group CEO, and Sebastião Salgado, Photographer & Founder of non-profit Instituto Terra, in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Zurich’s sponsorship contributes to planting one million seedlings over a period of eight years and to supporting Instituto Terra’s expansion.
“The most exciting thing about the Zurich Forest is how it’s based on the best available restoration science,” said Tom Crowther, PhD, Professor, Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich. “We have to build systems that value the immense complexity of nature across genetic, species and ecosystem levels and that’s exactly what’s happening in Brazil where they’re using the right mixtures of species, the native combinations that bring back a healthy ecosystem.”
Crowther also noted the importance of community involvement in creating and preserving new forests. Instituto Terra has trained 200 local reforestation experts in otherwise mining-dependent areas. “We have to get the ecological part right and the social part right, driven by and empowering the local community,” Crowther said. “When you get the social and the ecological parts right, that’s when restoration succeeds.”
Leaders With Lacqua Goes Green: John Podesta
A clean energy future promoted by the Inflation Reduction Act requires getting the guidance on its 24 tax credits right, and accelerating it, so that people actually get them, according to John Podesta, Senior Advisor, Clean Energy Innovation & Implementation; Chair, National Climate Task Force, The White House. “I thought it would be easy to give away $370 billion dollars, but it turns out there’s a lot to it, to do the transition from fossil fuel to clean energy, but in a way that will pay dividends to the people that have suffered the most from pollution and environmental degradation.” That said, he noted progress everyday, including $8 billion announced toward EV battery plants the day before.
“We’re taking advantage of trends that were already there, but the climate crisis requires us to accelerate that, and that’s what’s exciting about this moment. It’s a chance to have the private sector play a fundamental role in making that change happen.”
The Earthshot Prize: Fix our Climate
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of 2022 prize finalist LanzaTech, offered a compelling look at using ancient bacteria to turn carbon pollution into everyday products, low-value commodity chemicals, like ethylene, and jet fuel. In a bioreactor, bacteria eat gases in an optimized process that is continuous, creating a steady flow of energy. She noted there are manufacturing plants that run on steel mill emissions and breweries that “plug into” industrial plants.
“This is not science fiction,” she said, displaying an image of a dress sold by H&M, and made entirely of polyester from pollution in China, along with household items like laundry detergent. “The products are real. We’ve made them at commercial scale.”
An aviation fuel plane is expected to be operational by the end of this year, with the initial capability of producing 10 million gallons annually.
Mastercard Sponsor Spotlight: Getting Forest Restoration Right
Having a relatively small carbon footprint doesn’t mean having to rein in goals. Cristina Paslar, Executive Vice President, ESG Products, Mastercard spoke to mobilizing the thousands of institutions it partners with, and beyond, to massive numbers of cardholders and businesses that accept its card. That includes a 2028 pledge that all issued cards be made from sustainable materials.
It’s Priceless Planet Coalition’s goal is to plant 100 million trees, “but it also needs a social aspect, because Mastercard has a heritage of financial inclusion, working in small communities. We’ve been bringing new individuals to the digital economy for more than 10 years, and have a goal to achieve one billion people by 2025. We are tracking very well toward that.”
The Next Generation of Climate Quitters
There are still plenty of unknowns in the new sector of workers taking their skills to the climate change fight. Serene Chen, Vice President, People & Culture, Carbon Direct, said the intersection of those skills, however, is really powerful and desirable. A recently posted opening for an environmental justice and strategist attracted more than 400 applicants within 48 hours. She noted a report that indicated 142,000 jobs were added in clean energy in the past six months. They get hundreds of applicants for jobs where skills are transferable, for both tech and administrative roles. People are also “climate switching,” moving around in the industry “to experience something new.”
“The number one barrier to hitting climate goals is none of the things that most people talk about,” said Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder & President, Runwise. “It’s not capital. It’s not attention. It is purely a lack of skilled labor in the key areas and specifically in trade labor areas.” For instance, 40% of emissions come from buildings. Reversing that means having enough people trained to install updated systems and controls, on a massive scale of up to 20 million buildings. The dilemma is the same across industries. What’s moving the needle is not so much the IRA, but local laws, he said, like NYC’s Local Law 97 that puts carbon caps on every building.
Show Me the [Climate] Money
Eric Roston, Reporter, Bloomberg Green offered a look at a storyline that is doing what most don’t; changing rapidly. It included $1.1 trillion in energy transition investment in 2022, with powerful vectors, laws and big companies behind it. His five key things to understanding climate capital for cutting-edge solutions include dramatic changes to wind and solar prices, which changes behavior and that the U.S. lags far behind in climate tech spending. “The ultimate motivator for energy transition, which is climate change, is being supplanted by more immediate, and even better, motivators.” That includes venture capital investors. He predicted a year of noise as they move beyond solar and EVs.
Tech in Focus: Green Hydrogen
Ignacio Bincaz, Head of North America, H2Pro, which makes electrolyzers, said 100 million tons of hydrogen are currently produced per year, used mostly in oil refining and ammonia production, and noted that the market will also grow with the addition of other industries, such as green steel. On IRA incentives and entering the crowded U.S. market, a challenge is education about the technology, particularly without having a working prototype here. “They want to be able to lift the hood and see how it works.”
Tulika Raj, CEO & Co-Founder, SunGreenH2 made the point of looking beyond expanded use of hydrogen to what low-cost renewables and affordable green hydrogen will make possible going forward. “Even from 2025 to 2030, and beyond, you will find newer applications for green hydrogen, not least in transportation, long-duration energy storage, and decarbonizing our power generation sector, and all of that is simply going to expand.” Predictions are that the hydrogen market will go five-fold to 2050, she said. The electrodes her company supplies are seen as a billion dollar industry in the immediate future.
GM Sponsor Spotlight
Hina Baloch, Executive Director & Global Head, Climate Change Communications & Strategy, General Motors listed the carmaker’s latest climate goals, but said that what’s really important right now is the urgency of action. She quoted a Persian poet, “Whatever we could have lost, has been lost.” “This is the message we are pushing as climate advocates and within the company. The claims are very important in our journey, but now is the time to really push.” Their culture includes a “collective bag” theory that ideas can come from anyone in the company. Approaches she takes in her work include partnerships with MIT Solve and XPRIZE, to bring innovators together on their platforms.
Getting Warmer with Kal Penn
Kal Penn, Host, Bloomberg Originals Series, Getting Warmer; Actor & Author talked about the main challenges to motivating people to climate change action, because “there’s no playbook for how to engage.” Foremost is in recognizing how impactful behaviors can be on companies. As he has delved into the issue, he has learned some surprising things. The worst was discovering that only 8% of what’s put in recycling bins is actually recyclable, and the reasons were eye-opening, such as unmanageable bulk recycling requirements for municipalities. “For as much of a bummer as it is, it’s also an immense opportunity. I’m really proud of that episode because my hope is that people will recognize they can do more.”
Behind the Scenes: Extrapolations
Imagining the near-future impacts of the climate crisis is only possible now because we’ve gotten past the conversation being merely a debate over whether climate change is real or not, said Dorothy Fortenberry, Executive Producer, Extrapolations. “We’re currently living in a 1.1 degree climate-changed world, so we know that people living in climate change go to bars, tell jokes, have fights with their parents, have sex, because we did those things, today. So, the idea that a TV show about climate change would just be about a bunch of people looking at a graph and frowning is not true.”
Scott Z. Burns, Executive Producer & Creator, Extrapolations said that when they made An Inconvenient Truth  the controversy was what they had to deal with. Now, “It’s the shows that pretend the climate isn’t changing, that manage to ignore it season after season, those are actually the science fiction shows.” He added that climate change doesn’t look the same everywhere you go. “We wanted the show to be very far-flung for that reason. It’s a really different experience if you’re living in a coastal community that’s dealing with sea level rise than if you’re living in a farming community where there’s drought and your farm is failing.” The goal is to get people to start looking for climate change information in compelling ways and beyond the news.
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