Climate Change: Make hay while the sun shines

I have lately been taken up by the suggestion that we can process climate change entirely through proverbs. Some are all too obvious.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Yes, the cost of putting right what has gone wrong is at least nine times more than it would have been had we put it right twenty or thirty years ago. Possibly even more. The splits in the fabric of our planetary support systems are much much worse now than they were.

Many hands make light work.

We need to come up with solutions to fight climate change together, otherwise it will be an insuperable task. The many hands that need to work harder than most are those of the politicians who failed to take a lead twenty or thirty years ago. The general public will fall in with plans as they become apparent. Business also needs to make the biggest contribution alongside the politicians.

The last three decades have seen moments when the US has regularly refused to put its shoulder to the wheel, other moments when the UK has stalled, Japan has had its moments. The US refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and then dropped out of the Paris agreements altogether in 2016, when climate denier Trump entered the White House. The UK and Japan joined the US in 1989 in vetoing the first ever Climate Change Treaty, tabled at the first international conference convened to discuss the problem in Nordhuis in The Netherlands. These are all major economies that need to work together.

Don’t cry over spilt milk.

It has gone wrong, we have made mistakes, the milk is spilt, and there is nothing we can do to prevent what has already happened. We have to look forward now and put it right.

Make hay while the sun shines.

This is my favourite proverb. It works on so many different levels. Climate change has been called the biggest investment opportunity in history, by people as knowledgeable as Mark Carney and Al Gore. It is hardly surprising. The global community has to transform the entire global economy from a hydrocarbon basis to a non-hydrocarbon basis, and it has to do it now. This requires industrial transformation on a scale never seen before in the history of the human race, at a pace that is both unknown and also unimaginable. Why wouldn’t it be a chance to make a lot of money, and a time for growth, not a time for contraction?

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

This is my favourite proverb. It works on so many different levels. Climate change has been called the biggest investment opportunity in history, by people as knowledgeable as Mark Carney and Al Gore. It is hardly surprising. The global community has to transform the entire global economy from a hydrocarbon basis to a non-hydrocarbon basis, and it has to do it now. This requires industrial transformation on a scale never seen before in the history of the human race, at a pace that is both unknown and also unimaginable. Why wouldn’t it be a chance to make a lot of money, and a time for growth, not a time for contraction?

Recent news has demonstrated what this means. A study completed across Europe was reported by Business Green to show that the UK leads Europe in Climate Tech investment. “More funding flowed into climate tech start-ups in the UK between 2013 and 2021 than any other country in Europe.” Meanwhile our own EIS Climate Change Fund closed its third round last week at a record level. At the same time as we were closing the latest round of the Fund, HSBC announced its investment of $100 million into Bill Gates’ Catalyst Accelerator. This is on top of the $100 million already raised between Gates and his partners.

Look at the pace of innovation and the changes in attitude to climate tech. All around us we can see the growing number of electric cars, the spread of wind farms and solar installations, the universal adoption of recycling. Aspects of our lives which would have been unthinkable one generation ago. Electric light bulbs have been changed forever. Sometimes this produces a nostalgia for the habits and paraphernalia of a past life. The bakelite phones, collections of plastic bags, 4-litre car engines that stood idling for minutes on end in urban traffic jams. These lost signs of mindless consumerism have gone, and their departure itself is a source of hope.

ART DECO PYRAMID 232 BAKELITE TELEPHONE, Ruby Tuesdays Vintage Home

 

FORD ZODIAC MkIV, Classic Motoring

The activity, the resources, the dynamism is already visible, making the investment opportunity a reality. And yet the tone of the news we hear about climate change is despairing.

The human race has an enormous propensity for both frightening itself and forgetting, forgetting most of all that the human race also has an enormous propensity for ingenious solutions, hard work and – wait for it – transformation. We forget, we forget: we have been here before. We look at dystopian films in which the world is reduced to something resembling a lunar landscape, or a desert town, and gasp in horror. Yet although few can remember, we all know what 1945 meant. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Cologne, Berlin, Warsaw, Stalingrad, the list goes on – cities and communities reduced entirely to rubble. Scarcely a building standing.

The whole of central Europe was a mass of broken buildings, mangled factories, ruined farmland and displaced persons. And yet, in an economic miracle on both sides of what became the Iron Curtain, recovery happened.

Economic transformation is not only possible, not only achievable, it can happen and can happen quickly. We must all make hay while the sun shines.

*Risk disclaimer: Investment in early-stage companies involves risks such as illiquidity, lack of dividends, loss of investment and dilution. Even when diversified within a fund, investing in early stage companies carries a higher risk than investing in more established companies. Investment in EIS and SEIS funds should be considered as part of a diversified portfolio. For professional investors only.

Nick Lyth is Founder and President of Green Angel Syndicate, one of the largest active angel syndicates in the UK and the only one specialising in the fight against Climate Change. For regular updates follow Green Angel Syndicate on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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