By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights
SAN FRANCISCO (Callaway Climate Investors) — “It’ll be a dry St. Patrick’s Day during a global pandemic when I ever start another business.” With those words, a year ago today, as the rest of the world was shutting down, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3,000 points in one day, Callaway Climate Insights was born.
Through 12 months, more than 100 issues, hurricanes and power outages and wildfires — and a storming rally in environmental, social and governance stocks — we’ve chronicled the comings and goings of the nascent climate finance business. We’ve interviewed CEOs and fund managers, venture capitalists in the climate space and financial market executives. Entrepreneurs and innovators.
Betty Yee from CalPERS, and Jean Rogers, founder of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. Jeff Eckle from Hannon Armstrong. Gabriel Kra from Prelude Ventures. Frans Timmermans, European Union Climate Commissioner.
We’ve written about the startups in battery storage, electric vehicles, carbon removal, energy efficiency, and sustainable fashion. We’ve analyzed what the big banks are doing to get themselves — and their clients — to net-zero emissions. And we’ve looked at the legacy fossil fuel companies to consider whether they will be able to make the transition to renewable energy.
As a lifelong journalist who has run global newsrooms across time zones, it’s been a wild experience writing each morning from my study in Northern California. Doing Zoom calls with Hong Kong and Croatia and Dublin, but never getting on a plane. Life and work during a pandemic. I’ve also never had so much fun learning about what all of you do in your climate investing worlds, and writing every day.
Thousands of our readers have taken the journey with us, and now, as of last month, many of you have subscribed to help us build out our journalism. To celebrate our big day, we’re knocking off 20% from an annual subscription if you buy before the end of this week. Just $200 a year.
Our first year was to begin to build an audience. Now we need to scale it. More journalism is the answer. More reports from financial centers around the world. More interviews with newsmakers, and more insights. Each week.
We’ll continue to feature insights and commentaries from Europe, Asia, Canada, Latin America, and wherever the stories take us. We’re looking to create better and more investable data, and seeking partners in that as well as opportunities such as local climate news, video and podcasting.
The media world has awakened to the climate emergency. Teams of journalists at places like Bloomberg, The Guardian, Climate Home News, Greenbiz, Climate and Capital Media, and others, are doing excellent work to bring us all the latest. At the same time, the business dynamics of the digital media world cost us the great journalism of Greentech Media this week, when it was closed by its owner.
It’s hard, but as the EU’s Timmermans said at our Dublin Climate Summit last month, with regards to fighting global warming, “fail we may, sail we must,” quoting an unknown Irish fisherman.
Every day the story twists just a little bit. In 2020, investors jumped on the ESG bandwagon, and rode it to huge profits. This year, we’re already seeing pushback, not just as valuations come down to more realistic levels, but as investors start to question some of the stories behind high-flying electric vehicle companies, or the dependability of renewable energy suppliers during extreme weather events.
In geopolitics, the Biden honeymoon effect already is wearing off, and the idea of America suddenly re-taking the lead at the global climate table has given way to concerns about climate protectionism, unfair trade rules, immigration, and carbon markets. The U.S.-China relationship, so important to the climate question, is moving in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, climate’s predicted disasters roll. Sandstorms in China, polar vortexes, blizzards and power outages in the U.S., rising seas and calving icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic. A report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said today that more than 10 million people have been displaced by climate change since September 2020, mostly in Asia.
Last year came the wake-up call. A brutal pandemic that killed more than 2.5 million people and shocked us with the power of nature to seek retribution for humanity’s hubris. The world paid attention. But the hard work, investing and otherwise, involves tradeoffs. This will be the year we find out whether we’re up to it. There is much at stake, and much opportunity.
I called this column Zeus when we launched last March, because Zeus was the Greek god of weather, among other things. Weather is simply today’s version of climate, the fangs of the bigger, more dangerous beast.
The decisions and investments we make in the coming year will drive the decade. After talking with so many of you who are taking matters into your own hands, through your entrepreneurship and investing prowess, I’m convinced climate finance can help move the needle. It will be a great story. We’re here to tell it.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.