Neil deGrasse Tyson cancels climate deniers, preparing for climate change & the BOOM in clean tech SPACs

The newsletter for people "woke" on carbon and climate

(image: MIT/PopKitchen Co.)

Issue No. 63

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed - a curated newsletter for people “woke” on carbon and climate.

Pew survey shows immense partisan divide over climate change.

(source: Pew Research Center)

New Pew Research Center polling underscores the immense difference in how much Democrats are concerned about climate change compared to Republicans. (The survey of 5,360 respondents has a margin of error of ±1.9%.)

The chart above shows the nine issue areas with the largest partisan gaps in Pew's survey of what U.S. adults want the federal government to prioritize this year.

Clearly, the Biden Administration and 117th Congress will have their work cut out to bridge the current gap that exists on carbon and climate issues. Re-framing the issue in terms of infrastructure and jobs will certainly help.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest carbon policy and market insights as they happen.

If you have an opinion on any topic covered in this newsletter, please feel free to send me an email at mcleodwl@carboncreed.com. 

Thank you for your viewpoint and the value of your time.

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NOW, LET’S GO DEEP!


QUOTES

3 climate quotes that will inspire you

1. “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”

~ Alanis Obomsawim

This quote is often misattributed as a traditional Native American saying, but it was actually said by Alanis Obomsawim, an acclaimed Canadian filmmaker who is a member of the Abenaki people. It is a stark reminder that our natural resources are finite and that money will not save us when climate chaos strikes.

2. “It's a cool place and they say it gets colder/You're bundled up now wait 'til you get older/But the meteor men beg to differ/Judging by the hole in the satellite picture.

The ice we skate is getting pretty thin/The water's getting warm so you might as well swim/My world's on fire. How about yours?/That's the way I like it and I'll never get bored.

~ “All Star” by Smash Mouth

This climate warning in the Smash Mouth hit “All Star” by guitarist and songwriter Greg Camp, came in a single verse atop the song’s infectious beat and tucked in between lyrics mainly focused on self-affirmation and anti-bullying.

That’s right: Smash Mouth tried to warn us about climate change and our current divisive and untrusting sociopolitical conditions.

“I’m no scientist, I’m just the guy that writes songs and plays guitar,” says Camp. He said he felt that musicians and other artists that have a podium needed to at least mention climate change “to try and get people to be a part of the problem-solving as opposed to part of the problem.”

Interestingly, the last line of the chorus was originally different. Perhaps if Smash Mouth had left that line “Wave bye-bye to your soul” intact, rather than replacing it with “Only shooting stars break the mold” perhaps Shrek could have warned us about the current climate crisis sooner.


3. "Do not argue with a fool, for people will not be able to tell between the two of you.” ~ Igbo Proverb

Don't waste time arguing with someone who denies that climate change is real. You end up lowering yourself to their thinking.

Instead, follow the example of famed astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who brilliantly says, “I'm often asked whether I believe in global warming. I now just reply with the question: Do you believe in gravity?"


BOOKS

(source: Simon and Schuster)

How to Prepare for Climate Change

Written by David Pogue

It’s always a good idea to prepare for a disaster, especially one you see coming.

Pogue, a former New York Times tech columnist and current contributor, has got you covered. This is a climate change worst-case scenario survival guide: stronger hurricanes, forest fires, droughts, tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses, heat waves, tornadoes, plus how to prepare your business and also how to invest your money before the capitalist superstructure crumbles, apparently.

If Pogue is living the life he’s advising, he is eating homegrown beans, calmly explaining the crisis to his children and monitoring their psychological health, asking his contractor to deepen the soffits in his roof on which he is mounting solar panels, buying several air purifiers and organizing with his fellow citizens.

Much of the book, especially the sections on what to look for in an insurance policy, is helpful. It also includes an explanation of climate science and the obligatory feel-good sections on hope: actions some are taking and how you can participate.

It wouldn’t be wrong to do as he suggests; climate change will make these disasters worse and more frequent. Still, there’s something unsettling about the project, especially since many can’t act as advised, for financial or other reasons, and the real problem is that governments and corporations are failing us.

A particularly eerie chapter covers which American cities will “do well” in a warmer climate. This isn’t a new idea; it’s not necessarily wrong to lay out the climate risks of living in some places and the benefits of others. But, who is this advice for? Not everyone can move to Boulder, Colo., to take advantage of its hiking trails and ambitious climate targets.

What about the rest of us, the people who can’t afford or wouldn’t want to move away from the Gulf Coast? What about the people who already live in Boulder, or the diminishing water supply in the Rockies? No book can do everything, but planning for our collective future should be about everyone, including those without the means to prepare, since they are in the most danger. Inequality is a large part of what got us here; preparing for climate change shouldn’t make that worse.

Creed Comments: (from the book): You might not realize it, but we’re already living through the beginnings of climate chaos. In Arizona, laborers now start their day at 3 a.m. because it’s too hot to work past noon. Chinese investors are snapping up real estate in Canada. Millennials have evacuation plans. Moguls are building bunkers. Retirees in Miami are moving inland.

In How to Prepare for Climate Change, David Pogue offers sensible, deeply researched advice for how the rest of us should start to ready ourselves for the years ahead. He does an awesome job providing wise tips for managing anxiety, as well as action plans for riding out every climate catastrophe, from superstorms and wildfires to ticks and epidemics. Definitely read this book.


CLEAN TECH

(source: iClima Earth)

What’s behind the current boom in clean tech SPACs?

There’s no denying that 2020 was the year of the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Last year, 219 SPACs raised $73 billion, according to widely reported market research from Goldman Sachs. That’s a 462% jump from 2019 and more than traditional public offerings raised by about $6 billion. By some counts, roughly one quarter of the SPACs that have been announced will target climate-related businesses.

Already, of the 78 deals that have either completed or announced a merger since 2018, just over one-third have been climate-relatedas tallied by Climate Tech VC. And these SPACs have outperformed the broader technology market, with the 10 clean tech companies that have completed mergers averaging a 131% return on investment versus the 50% return of the total SPAC market.

Clearly this has been a banner year for companies that are tackling the climate crisis across a number of verticals, but can it last?

There are a few reasons to think that it can — led chiefly by the demand for these kinds of public offerings from institutional investors, including the pension funds, mutual funds and asset managers handling trillions of investment dollars.

“[The] current wave [of SPACs] is because over the past 24 months the institutional investor universe has come fully into believing that climate solutions are going to be a major growth area in the 2020s and beyond, but they weren’t seeing options available to them for investing into,” wrote longtime clean technology investor, Rob Day.

Large money managers agree with Day’s assessment.

In January BlackRock committed to making climate change mitigation a component of its calculations for how to manage the $9 trillion in assets under management the financial services giant has.

The need to put those billions to work quickly helps explain Tesla’s meteoric rise to assume a coveted position in the S&P 500.

CPP Investments, which has roughly $355.4 billion in total assets under management is another big financial manager that is making climate investments one of its core strategies.

For its part, CPPIB is an investor in at least one SPAC that’s got a climate mitigation thesis. The pension fund for Canada is backing the SPAC that’s acquiring the electric vehicle charging technology developer and operator, ChargePoint.

That September deal for ChargePoint was followed in November with a SPAC for Nuvve, an early-stage developer of vehicle-to-grid energy management software and services.

Investors said they expect the pace of SPAC formation (especially SPACs targeting clean tech) to at least remain constant and potentially accelerate throughout 2021.

Electric vehicle manufacturers have been low-hanging targets for SPACs, especially after the early success of the Nikola acquisition and subsequent offerings in other climate-focused SPACs.

Nikola’s downfall also shows why investors might want to proceed with caution when it comes to these kinds of public offerings.

[This post was adapted from the original written by Jonathan Shieber which appeared in Tech Crunch.] 

Creed Comments: The SPAC frenzy in clean tech startups has been welcome news in many ways. Unlike Solyndra, which had few options besides government (public) funds to raise capital at scale, SPACs give startups access to large capital raises via the regulated stock market. Then, to make things more interesting, “Throw in a Robinhood market of retail investors with a lot of enthusiasm for EVs and such, and you have a nice recipe for this to happen (Rob Day).”

The emerging power of the retail investor has come to light during the recent GameStop controversy, and before that the meteoric rise of clean tech darling Tesla. But I digress…

My biggest concern is that clean tech SPACs don’t have a meaningful track record, so who knows what the eventual performance will end up being for the sector. The institutional investors and and venture capitalists will probably do quite well, but the retail investors may get left holding the bag in the end.


RESOURCES


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