This essay was adapted from the Climate Tech Weekly newsletter, formerly VERGE Weekly. Subscribe here for your free subscription.
When the VERGE Weekly newsletter launched nearly 10 years ago, it was primarily the editorial counterpart to our then-nascent VERGE event. Over time, it has morphed to feature deeper coverage of breakthroughs and systemic solutions to the climate crisis.
This week, we’re announcing a name change that is reflective of that evolution. Climate Tech Weekly is dedicated to reporting on the innovations, emerging technologies, startups, funding mechanisms, alliances and people driving the climate tech movement — and helping accelerate corporate climate action in the process.
Why now? This year alone, $17 billion (and counting) has been committed to funding products and services that address the climate crisis. While only a fraction of that money has actually been deployed, Boston Consulting Group reports that the money flowing into the climate tech ecosystem is growing five times faster than for any other sector.
And it’s attracting attention and participation from financiers who haven’t traditionally been active in sustainability, such as private equity firm General Atlantic, which in July created a $4 billion venture dedicated to addressing "climate-focused problems."
For those of you who have been around the block, this is not Cleantech 2.0. As legendary VC Chris Sacca put it earlier this month, when his firm Lowercarbon Capital added $800 million to its climate fund:
We are thrilled to see how many investors understand the urgency of the climate crisis and are already dedicating their time, as well as their capital, to real solutions. However, to be frank, we were also heartened by those investors who actually don’t care that much about the planet and instead are just chasing financial returns.
What falls under the climate tech label? Broadly speaking, the solutions represent five main categories that intersect frequently: transitioning energy to renewable sources; mobilizing toward zero-emissions mobility; reducing the impacts and increasing the resilience of buildings and other infrastructure; cultivating sustainable food systems and ecosystems; and decarbonizing industrial processes and products.
Here are some themes you can expect explored in the newsletter.
- Startups and corporate innovators: Coverage of climate tech entrepreneurs — both small and large — representing the five broad categories outlined above. Watch for a particular focus on carbontech, including direct air capture, industrial retrofit equipment, carbon accounting software and solutions that turn captured carbon into valuable products (such as carbon-sequestering concrete).
- Green infrastructure and climate resilience: Solutions that increase resilience to extreme weather and enable us to "build back better," including applied and digital water technologies, smart buildings and public infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports, etc.), and recovery and recycling systems for plastics, packaging and materials.
- The enablers: Ongoing exploration of the digital and applied technologies we need to accelerate climate action, including drones and other autonomous delivery systems; artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and machine learning; blockchain and supply chain transparency apps; 3D printers and distributed manufacturing solutions; and robotics.
- Climate intelligence: The satellite networks and internet of things solutions for gathering data about methane, deforestation, flood risks and other climate dynamics, as well as cloud services and software tools for risk modeling and visualization.
- The funding and partnership ecosystem: Startup accelerators and influential funders from the private and corporate sectors helping to mainstream the climate tech movement, as well as the industry collaborations and trade groups helping accelerate adoption.
Climate tech’s moment has arrived, and so, too, has VERGE’s. We used to talk about operating at the intersection of "where tech meets sustainability." But, as the market and movement evolves, we are too — VERGE has always been the climate tech event, and now we are making that link more explicit.
You’ll find the themes above reflected across the program we’re developing for VERGE 21: the climate tech event, which will take place online Oct. 25-28. The five concurrent conferences we’re building focus on the most influential and dynamic markets accelerating the just transition to a clean economy and I encourage you to take a peek, as we just published the online program.
- VERGE Carbon focuses on unlocking the value of carbon pollution by using it to create innovative products, materials and services.
- VERGE Energy focuses on reimagining the energy systems that power communities and companies, all while creating jobs and hardening grid security to position us for a resilient future.
- VERGE Food showcases the leaders, organizations and innovations that are creating more sustainable ways to produce, distribute and consume food, and making it accessible and affordable to all.
- VERGE Infrastructure, our newest addition, highlights the growing opportunities to make our physical and digital structures more sustainable, resilient and equitable, from highways and ports to energy grids and water systems.
- VERGE Mobility explores the road forward for clean, electric transportation systems that are accessible to all, featuring the technologies, partnerships and best practices that are building a future of electric, decarbonized and equitable transportation.
We’re also developing a whole suite of startup programs specifically for entrepreneurs and investors as part of our increased commitment to serve the climate tech innovation community. The Early Rate expires Sept. 10, so I encourage you to register now.
There’s no shortage of news in the world of climate tech — a reflection of both the urgency of our crisis as well as the real economic opportunity that awaits those who engage. "It’s a time of both peril and possibility," said Jim Coulter, executive chairman of the TPG Rise Climate fund, which in late July added $5.4 billion of deployable cash. "Climate change is a societal risk but also a generational investment opportunity."
We’re eager to tell these stories. Send your ideas and tips to Heather Clancy ([email protected]), who will be bringing Climate Tech Weekly to your inbox over the coming months. If there’s anyone you think could benefit from this newsletter, please forward along and encourage them to subscribe.