ZERO #11 (climate finance + startups)

We're positive about negative emissions. CCUS opportunities by sector. $9T for Net Zero Asset Managers. 6 climate NGOs to know. Reduce your work week by 58%? 101 time saving tips. Crazy honey badgers.

We’re positive that negative emissions are needed, in a big way. #CCUS

Scientists much smarter than me continue to tell us that we can’t limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels unless we harness negative emissions.

To be clear, this is not a “get out of jail free” card, suggesting that we just emit GHGs willy nilly.*

(Yep, game night with the kids is still fresh in my mind. And yes, I lost to my 15-year-old in Monopoly. Again.)

Proponents of CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage) are also still proponents of reducing GHG emissions — think solar and wind farms.

If you need to learn more — as we all do — here’s a good primer from McKinsey & Company: “Driving CO2 emissions to zero (and beyond) with carbon capture, use, and storage.

And for those energy geeks out there (myself very much included), you’ll recall the hallmark work McKinsey did in 2007 in support of the hopeful attempts at federal climate policy. Here’s their classic “greenhouse gas abatement cost curves,” updated in 2017, which communicated the required cost on carbon to make certain technologies work.

But I digress (happily). Back to CCUS…

Below is McKinsey’s assessment of the financial viability of certain uses of captured carbon (e.g., finished product plastics and biochar are good use cases, while fuel and feedstock chemicals are harder for now).

That said, the market potential graph from McKinsey looks quite different. That is, the most attractive use cases above are not the biggest reuse opportunities as shown below.

To learn more beyond the McKinsey reading, check out this:

If you have any particular insights on CCUS that you’d like to share with capital allocators, email me. I’m giving a private webcast to a group of investors and corporates on Jan. 29, and I’ve always got more to learn.

*If you’re curious like I was, the etymology of “willy nilly” is this => It's a contraction of “will I, nill I” and derives from Old English.

What is the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative?

In their words…

  • “A group of international asset managers committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and to supporting investing aligned with net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.”

Who has signed up?

  • 30 signatories

  • $9 trillion in assets under management

In other words…

  • Holy cow.

  • That’s a ton of money, and achieving net zero for large portfolios seems hard as $*!@.

And it’s not just rainbows and unicorns. Here’s what else signatories are committing to:

  • Set an interim target for the proportion of assets to be managed in line with the attainment of net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner

  • Review interim targets at least every five years, with a view to ratcheting up the proportion of AUM covered until 100% of assets are included

  • Ensure any relevant direct and indirect policy advocacy undertaken is supportive of achieving global net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner

  • Implement a stewardship and engagement strategy, with a clear escalation and voting policy, that is consistent with our ambition for all assets under management to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner

  • As required, create investment products aligned with net zero emissions by 2050 and facilitate increased investment in climate solutions

  • Publish TCFD disclosures — i.e., Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures — including a climate action plan, annually, and submit them to the Investor Agenda via its partner organizations for review to ensure the approach applied is based on a robust methodology, consistent with the UN Race to Zero criteria, and action is being taken in line with the commitments made here

To see the impressive list of signatories — e.g., Axa, BMO, UBS, Generation, Robeco — check out their website here.

And with the new Biden administration (finally) coming to the helm, ESG investing gaining momentum, and climate change action rising in the minds and hearts of the general public, I’m confident that the number of signatories will grow considerably this year.

6 climate NGOs you should know, but might not.

If you’re looking back on 2020 (and not screaming or crying), then you might be asking yourself how to best offset your carbon sins of the last twelve months.

In my search for better answers, I came upon this article from Vox and Sigal Samuel, with research input from the Founders Pledge:

You won’t see the obvious 800-pound benevolent gorillas of environmental charity listed here. She notes this about arriving at her list: “I’m not including bigger-name groups, such as the Environmental Defense Fund or the Sierra Club, because most big organizations are already relatively well-funded.”

And, drum roll, please.

[But not too loud because I’m 45 and have a bad ear (insert joke from my kids about getting older)].

  1. Coalition for Rainforest Nations — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)

  2. Clean Air Task Force — Research and policy work to reduce often neglected air pollutants

  3. Clean Energy Innovation program at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — Research and policy work to promote research and development as a stimulus for change

  4. Rainforest Foundation US — Protecting the rainforests of Latin America by working with indigenous people (this one is near and dear to me, having done rainforest research and education with the indigenous tribe of Bocas del Toro, Panama many years ago)

  5. Sandbag — Data analysis to support evidence-based climate policy (e.g., CCUS, carbo pricing)

  6. Climate Emergency Fund — Helps fund climate protests

Thankfully, it’s impossible to optimize everything (despite my best intentions). So, regardless of whether you choose these or others, or whether you give cash or time, doing something is better than the alternative.

Reduce your work hours by 58.2%, while maintaining productivity?

Or that’s how the headline of this uber popular Medium post goes by Chris Winfield: “How to Work 40 Hours in 16.7.

He starts off with a story many of us can relate to.

  • “I used to work a lot — 60, 80, or even 100 hours a week. I let my work be a big part of how I defined myself. I wore those insane hours like a badge of honor…I loved telling people how ‘busy’ I was…and how much I ‘had to do’. Sound familiar?”

I’m in the process of learning that time, freedom, and impact are more important than total income, so firsthand accounts like this are the eucalyptus buffet for my koala cravings.

So what’s his secret?

The Pomodoro Technique:

  1. Choose a task, just one

  2. Set a timer for 25 minutes

  3. Work only on that task until the timer scares you out of focus, then put a checkmark somewhere (e.g., Google Sheets, legal pad)

  4. Stand up, take a 5-minute break (OK, first Pomodoro is now complete)

  5. Repeat steps above 3 more times, followed by a 15-minute break

Now, if you’re also a big fan of Deep Work concepts by professor and author Cal Newport (I highly recommend this book), then you’ll likely want to change 25 minutes to 90 minutes, increase your breaktime, and reduce the number of iterations. As for me, it is usually 45 minutes of focused work, with a 10-minute break for more creamy coffee or push ups.

Anyway, it’s pretty simple and worth experimenting. According to the originator, Francesco Cirilio, over 2 million people are already using this technique. But I’d say it’s even higher.

And if you want to go a little honey badger* on productivity tips like this, here are 101 more ideas via

*If you’ve never seen a honey badger get super intense with its cobra prey, here’s a 3:20 video for your 5-minute Pomodoro break. It’s a NatGeo video plus a hilarious voice over. Over 96 million views and counting. Seriously, I’m LOL right now, watching it for the 5th time.

That’s all, y’all.

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Keep on fightin’ the good fight.



P.S. — Here’s where the name “ZERO” comes from.

P.S.S. — At Entrepreneurs for Impact, we run a private, invite-only executive coaching Mastermind for climate CEOs and investors. Collectively catalyzing over $800M of value in low carbon sectors, it’s a heck of a group. If you want to learn more, check us out here.

P.S.S.S. — Does anyone know if this statistic is true? “Your heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 32 kilometers everyday. That is equivalent to driving to the moon and back in one life time.” It showed up on my daughter’s homework over lunch break. I want to believe it’s true, but I’m having a hard time.

Dr. Chris Wedding
Entrepreneurs for Impact, Founder
Executive Coaching Mastermind for Climate CEOs and Investors
(919) 274-7988