NY Climate Tech: February 20 - February 26, 2023
Is Herald Square the new center of NY Climate Tech? Plus, some art, some infrastructure, and some finance from around the world!
Start the shortened holiday week on Tuesday near Herald Square with Sustainable Investment Leadership Council’s networking meetup, then pop one block over to the USV x SOSV event on New York as a Hub for Climate Innovation. On Wednesday, find out about volunteer opportunities and meet the board at the Young Professionals in Energy Happy Hour, also near Herald Square. On Thursday, join us for our NY Climate Tech Meetup, also near Herald Square, or get out of midtown and head up to Morningside Heights for a talk with Donnel Baird of Blocpower and professor Bruce Kogut of Columbia Climate School on democratizing Alternative Energy Solutions to Cities. On Saturday, head out to Idlewild Environmental Center near JFK for a workshop on wind energy, or stay closer in with an artistic reflection on the environmental justice project called Renewable Rikers in downtown Brooklyn.
Alec and Sonam
Hot Take: How do you ‘End Poverty’, really?
This is a photo from my iPhone camera roll circa 2013, when I used to work at the World Bank and walked into the headquarters of the world’s largest development finance institution everyday - with the stated goal to “End Poverty” stamped on its front door. Job descriptions don’t get more direct than this. But, like most things in life, the devil’s in the details.
How are we doing 10 years later, circa 2023? Maybe I’ll just let the headlines speak for themselves:
🇵🇰 Pakistan was immersed underwater last summer as monsoon floods pummeled the country and caused damage across one-third of the entire country
🇨🇳 China suffered its worst drought in history, drying out the Yangtze River, which supplies drinking water to more than 400 million people
🇮🇳 India's wheat crop had 35% less yield this in 2022, decimating the output of the world’s bread bowl and worsening a global food shortage
🇿🇦 South Africa suffered from its worst rainstorm in history, killing hundreds of people in the city of Durban
One simply cannot “End Poverty” as the natural systems that underpin human life on planet earth break down. And the reality is that our global financial system both caused this demise and needs to significantly reform to handle its consequences.
First, a look back: The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were born out of the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, as most countries across the world were reeling from the effects of World War II. The goal was to create a new economic order focused on international cooperation, one that would help countries recover from the war and foster long-term growth. Since then, the World Bank has been joined in these efforts alongside several new regional Multinational Development Banks (MDBs), lifting billions of people out of poverty over the past 79 years.
Now, a look forward: The same ethos of international cooperation that launched the World Bank couldn’t be more necessary to reform it to handle the challenges of the 21st century, with climate change topping the list. For the past 4 years, The World Bank was led by Trump appointee and climate denier, David Malpass. The good news is that he’s finally resigned, and President Biden now has a chance to put in new leadership, increase US commitments, and hold these institutions accountable to “End Poverty.”
About $2 trillion is needed each year by 2030 to help the world’s most vulnerable countries reduce their GHG emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change. About half of that will come from local sources, but the other half needs to come from the World Bank, other MDBs, and external investment from private sector partners. As of today, total climate finance for low and middle income countries is at a paltry $38 billion per year. There’s A LOT MORE to go.
Some of the world’s major economies, including the US, have called on the World Bank to institute fundamental reforms in how it operates, specifically with a plan to scale up climate finance for developing countries. Approximately 90% of the increase in emissions going forward are going to come from developing countries, so they need access to affordable financing options to invest in resilience and transition their economies towards a clean energy future. All this needs to be done without pushing the countries to unsustainable levels of debt, which would further hamper their development efforts. Already, more than 60% of low-income countries are in debt distress according to the International Monetary Fund.
So, what’s on the docket to change? Having had a chance to experience the inner workings of the World Bank, I’ve learned the good, the bad, and the ugly and I lay out a few of my favorite reforms here:
⛽️ Stop funding fossil fuels!!! The World Bank provided more than $14.8 billion in financing for fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was adopted. It’s way past high time for the Bank to put its money where its mouth is, period.
🏗 Fund resilience initiatives BEFORE a disaster strikes, not after the fact. For every $1 that we spend on pre-disaster mitigation, we save $6 in post-disaster losses. The math is simple, let’s act on it.
💰 Provide concessional financing to all climate-vulnerable countries, even if their income levels place them above the poverty lines for the lowest-cost instruments. This means grants and low-interest debt products for middle income countries like Turkey or Malaysia, in addition to the bread and butter of the World Bank in supporting low income states like Liberia or Nicaragua. It’s often the middle income countries that have significant energy needs as their economies grow, and end up putting more capacity online through their existing fossil fuel infrastructure rather than investing in renewable energy due to lack of funds.
📈 Take risk, that’s why the World Bank was created in the first place. The Bank needs to learn how to optimize its balance sheet while reducing minimum equity-to-loan ratios. This enhances capital utilization and provides means for financing climate transitions in a much larger range of countries.
🏛 Use public financing as a means of insurance for private investors, many of whom have regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities that don't allow them to take on the risk themselves. This means loan guarantees, first loss provisions, and a huge number of creative financial products that only the World Bank can provide given its stakeholders and access to capital markets.
I was lucky to work on some of the climate adaptation and mitigation projects the World Bank financed when it started the Sustainable Cities group 10 years ago. From launching the Open Data for Resilience Initiative as the first open-source database of urban risks and vulnerability in the world to doing early stage investments in water systems and clean transport as a part of the $8 billion Climate Investment Funds, it was an incredible place to learn and have an impact globally. The World Bank needs to double and triple down on these types of initiatives and incorporate a climate lens into ALL of its projects rather than siloed groups.
And last, but not least, millions of people have finally started to pay attention to climate change and innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community groups, and business leaders are all signing up to do their part to “End Poverty.” It has never been a better time to mobilize large sums of public capital, combined with GFANZ commitments of $130 trillion of private sector dollars, to address the biggest challenge of the 21st century!
Community Shout Outs
🌎 Climate Tech Cities
We are expanding! We started as an 8-person dinner and now have over 4,000 members in our community. We’ve had people across the world reach out to us to start their own chapters - so we’re launching a new Climate Tech Cities organization to kick of 2023! If you have friends who are interested in becoming chapter leads, please share the word! Here’s to a global network of local communities making a positive impact!
🙋🏽♀️ Community Board Applications
Community Board applications are live! If you’re interested in getting more involved with local government, learn more about what Community Boards do and consider applying using their online application form.
⚡️Young Professionals in Energy
If you are interested in planning events for Young Professionals in Energy, creating engaging content, coordinating with industry leaders and innovators, and strengthening the New York City energy network, then apply to join the YPE NYC Board today! Apply by February 28: https://lnkd.in/dBZjWxPh
👩🏻🔬The Carbon 2 Value Initiative
The Carbon 2 Value Initiative is bringing innovative carbontech solutions to scale— and accepting applications for the Year 3 Cohort! Read the RFP and submit your solution to collaborate with @UrbanFutureLab, @GreentownLabs, @Fraunhofer_USA, and @NYSERDA by March 31!
Events This Week
🌱 SILC's Sustainability Professionals Networking Event: Tue, Feb 21
🍎 USV x SOSV: New York as a Hub for Climate Innovation: Tue, Feb 21
🔌 YPE NYC February Happy Hour - Board Meet & Greet: Wed, Feb 22
🗽NY Climate Tech Meetup: Thu, Feb 23
🌆 Democratizing Alternative Energy Solutions to Cities: Thu, Feb 23
💨 Renewable Energy Workshop: Wind Energy: Sat, Feb 25
⛓ Renewable Launch: Sat, Feb 25
Read on for more details about this week’s happenings and upcoming events this month
👖 Sustainable Fashion Community Meeting: Mon, Feb 27
🚄 What it takes: building next-generation infrastructure in America: Tue, Feb 28
🎬 Technological Ecologies: Wed, Mar 1
✅ Decarbonization Accelerator Demo Day (Spring 2023): Wed, Mar 1
🎭 ECOLOGICAL CITY - Art & Climate Solutions Workshops: Wed, Mar 1
🍄 Bio Arts Workshops w/ Mycelium, Kombucha & Seaweed: Wed, Mar 1
🌿 Plants for Climate Action: Growing a Resilient Society: Thu, Mar 2
🦒 9th Annual New York WILD Film Festival: Thu, Mar 2
⚡️ Clean Energy Leadership Institute's Fellowship: Meet & Greet: Thu, Mar 2
🌱 Sustainable Harlem Tour: Fri, Mar 3
🧬 The Art of SynBio: Microbial Painting: Sat, Mar 4
🏳️🌈 Out in Climate - NYC meetup at Free Agency + panel on talent: Thu, Mar 9
💵 2023 Wall Street Green Summit: Mon, Mar 13
🏙 Urban Green Council Spring Member Reception: Wed, Mar 15
🥗 A Seat at the Table: Uplifting Voices for Equitable Food Systems: Mon, Mar 20
👩🌾 Indoor Farming through Hydroponics, a solution based practice: Sat, Mar 25
🥦 Food and Energy Resiliency with Small Scale Biogas: Sat, Mar 25
🧫 Exploring the Microbiome: Sat, Mar 25
🚌 The Climate Museum - Field Trip: Sun, Mar 26
🧶 Sustainable Fashion: A Mending and Repair Workshop: Wed, Mar 29
Events This Week
🌱 SILC's Sustainability Professionals Networking Event
When: Tue, Feb 21st at 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Local NYC, West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10119
Are you a professional in NYC who's interested in sustainability? Do you want to network with like-minded professionals? Come and join us for an evening of drinks, food and great conversation. We encourage everyone from industry, NGOs and Government to come meet new people, bounce off ideas, and make new friends! Please RSVP as soon as possible as spaces are limited!
🍎 USV x SOSV: New York as a Hub for Climate Innovation
When: Tue, Feb 21st from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: IndieBio, NY 7 Penn Plaza Floor, 9 New York, NY 10001
Union Square Ventures and SOSV are pleased to invite you to a panel discussion on the topic of "New York as a Hub for Climate Innovation", sponsored by Figure Equity Solutions. We hope to discuss how NYC is poised to be at the epicenter of innovation, disruption, and development and what builders, policymakers, and investors can do to help support this change. The panel will include USV, SOSV, Columbia Climate School, and itselectric, and we're aiming for an evening of conversation with 50-75 investors, founders, and people interested in climate innovation in NYC.
🔌 YPE NYC February Happy Hour - Board Meet & Greet
When: Wed, Feb 22nd from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Where: 7 E 36th St, New York, NY 10016
Young Professionals in Energy NYC (YPE NYC) is growing our Board of Directors! Come meet us and network with other YPE NYC members. We are looking for some hard-working energy professionals to fill the following volunteer roles for our growing programs - contact us if you’re interested!
🌆 Democratizing Alternative Energy Solutions to Cities
When: Thu, Feb 23rd from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Where: Dear Mama, 611 West 129th Street, New York, NY 10027
BlocPower analyzes, finances, and installs clean energy and building decarbonization upgrades in buildings in underserved communities. It also creates jobs for qualified local low-income workers, energy savings for building owners, reduces carbon emissions and asthma rates, and provides financial returns to investors. In 2021, the company announced a historic partnership with Ithaca, New York, to decarbonize 100% of the city’s buildings—the first such project in the United States. Come here from Founder Donnel Baird and Professor Bruce Kogut of Columbia Business School!
🗽 NY Climate Tech February Meetup
When: Thu, Feb 23rd from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where: OCabanon, 245 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001
Join NY Climate Tech for our February meetup at OCabanon! As a community organization connecting activists, investors, policymakers, entrepreneurs, artists, academics, jobseekers, and climate leaders, we are dedicated to uniting local communities around deploying climate solutions equitably. This monthly meetup is a casual and accessible way to connect with others in the climate community. Whether you're a seasoned climate expert or just starting to explore your interest in this vital issue, you'll find a welcoming and supportive community at NY Climate Tech. The event is free and open to all, but please RSVP to help us know how many people will attend! We can't wait to see you there.
💨 Renewable Energy Workshop: Wind Energy
When: Sat, Feb 25th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where: Idlewild Environmental Center, 222-02 149th Avenue Queens, NY 11413
Emerging environmental technicians will learn and engage in renewable energy sources such as wind energy. Participants will get the chance to learn about energy sources, understand why wind energy is good for the environment, and demonstrate these priorities through a hands-on wind project.
♻️ Renewable Launch
When: Sat, Feb 25th from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where: Women Building Up, 401 State Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Join us for the live launch of Renewable, co-sponsored by jill sigman/thinkdance, the Center for Urban Environmental Reform, and the Women's Community Justice Association at Women Building Up, a project of Tides Center. This event is also a supported project of Broadway Advocacy Coalition. Renewable is an artistic reflection on the environmental justice project called Renewable Rikers in New York City. It is both a call for advocacy for this restorative justice project that links decarceration and decarbonization and a set of video dances that metabolize complex themes around Rikers Island's history as a notoriously violent jail complex. You can find more info here.
Join the Fun!
We know all of you are cooking up great events that highlight the latest and greatest in our collective effort to save our city - and our planet! 🌍 We would love to spread the word. Please share any event details and we'll add them to the list.
Share Your Ideas
We're excited to grow the Climate Tech community in cities across the globe! What started as an 8-person mid-pandemic outdoor dinner has since morphed into a 4,000+ strong and ever-growing group of rockstars trying to change the world. We aim to be a community resource - built for and by our community. Share your thoughts!