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Adapt, Conserve, Be Equitable

Climate change adaptation, justice and conservation

The 2021 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released in August rang the warning bells yet again, perhaps with the most alarming notes to date, on the state and future of climate change. Climate change observed today is largely unprecedented in scale and the need for strong reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide are desperately needed to limit its impact on our planet.

At Align Impact, while efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions remain at the forefront, we recognize that mitigation does not cover the complete picture. In that spirit, we would like to highlight the importance of adaptation, climate justice and conservation in the movement to protect our planet and its inhabitants from the impacts of a changing climate.

Technologies that can help provide real-time data to improve disaster preparedness and response as well as aid planning from the public and private sectors will be central to effectively forecast and act on the possible impacts of climate change around the world.

Investing in solutions in these areas can prove to be critical for our future as shown in examples of businesses shared below that are providing critical solutions, but we also recognize the importance of, and have shared, actions we can take as individuals, consumers, and citizens to make a positive impact.

Adaptation

The 2021 IPCC report highlighted that “human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.” In 2020, 50 million people were affected by more frequent and more severe floods, droughts, wildfires, and storms. The last decade was the warmest on record, with 2016, 2019, and 2020 breaking previous records. As these trends continue to accelerate, it is important to invest in adaptation to prepare for a world where climate change related events grow more common and frequent.

Workers installing solar panels

Technologies that can help provide real-time data to improve disaster preparedness and response as well as aid planning from the public and private sectors will be central to effectively forecast and act on the possible impacts of climate change around the world. StormSensor is a climate technology business looking to provide a cost-effective solution to storm-water management in the United States. Backed by Buoyant Ventures, StormSensor provides real-time tracking of flooding and sewage overflows for municipalities in the US.

Recent extreme weather events and disasters like wildfires have highlighted how close to home climate change can hit. Understanding and raising awareness about how climate change might impact where you live is an important step to elevate the importance of this global phenomenon. National Geographic built an interactive tool to help people see how their city’s climate is expected to change over the coming decades and raise awareness about what lies in the future.

In Los Angeles, the number of days a year over 95 degrees Fahrenheit are expected to increase from 0.5 days at present to 14 days in 2080s.

Climate Justice

The traditional energy infrastructure has a checkered history of negatively impacting underserved and vulnerable populations. For example, in the United States, predominantly Black populations in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region have been disproportionately impacted by the air and water pollution by the petroleum sector as well as the downstream impacts of oil spills. As we transition to the sustainable economy, it is important to keep inclusion and equity at the forefront to avoid falling in the same pitfalls of the fossil fuel economy.

Examples of businesses that are based on climate justice principles include PosiGen and Navajo Power. Posigen’s mission is to make solar power be “affordable and easy to access, especially for low-to-moderate income communities and communities of color”. Navajo Power is aiming to build clean-energy projects on tribal lands while making sure that local communities benefit economically.

Solar Array

Many municipalities in the United States allow consumers to choose their power source and provide incentives to homeowners to install solar panels or participate in community solar projects. Understanding where your power is coming from and switching to cleaner alternatives is a small but important step in transitioning power away from traditional sources of energy.

Conservation

A 2020 report on Financing Nature by the Paulson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and the Cornell Atkinson Center identified that if we continue our current trajectory, “we face a future where 30 to 50 percent of all species may be lost by the middle of the 21st century”.

The traditional energy infrastructure has a checkered history of negatively impacting underserved and vulnerable populations.

In the United States, Lyme Timber works with non-profits to establish working conservation easements on forests. In emerging markets, we are evaluating opportunities to finance eco-tourism as a means of bolstering conservation efforts impacted by the decline of tourism due to the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), “extensive cattle ranching is the number one culprit of deforestation in virtually every Amazon country, and it accounts for 80% of current deforestation. (Nepstad et al. 2008).” Reducing meat consumption and/or understanding where the meat you purchase is sourced from is a significant individual action that can be taken to reduce the demand pressure on the meat industry that continues to exact a demanding toll on forests.

Palm oil is a highly prevalent component of the global supply chain, it’s found in everything from chocolates to soaps and shampoos. The growth of palm oil plantations threatens sensitive and bio-diverse habitats in Malaysia and Indonesia. You can look for the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) label on products that contain palm oil to ensure that the production is made with certifiable sustainable palm oil.

Hummayun Javed leads Align Impact’s investment research team. He joined Align in 2015 as an Investment Analyst after completing his graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Over the past five years, Hummayun built the investments team and research infrastructure that spans four verticals and serves the needs ... Read more

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