'How do you transform an entire economy?' The firm taking on the climate funding problem

(The Guardian, 14 Dec 2019) Martijn Wilder says more companies are talking about the climate crisis but not moving quickly enough – and his new firm Pollination aims to improve that.

A growing number of governments, including of every Australian state, Britain and the European Union, have set targets of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Few have mapped how to get there.

It is a similar story in the corporate sector. Businesses are under increasing pressure from investors and shareholders to back up claims they are committed to the goals of the Paris agreement. Take BHP, one of the world’s 20 big emitters: it has set a mid-century net-zero emissions target but is yet explain how it will reach it, and plans to invest more in oil and gas than climate solutions.

Martijn Wilder, long-time head of Baker & McKenzie’s global climate law and sustainable-finance practice and a founding board member of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has seen up close the divide between the decision-making that goes into setting targets and establishing rules at United Nations climate talks and that drives spending decisions. Having moved in both diplomatic and investment circles, he found people in each who wanted to tackle the climate crisis but had little comprehension of how the other worked.

The gap prompted him to leave a guaranteed stable future at the law firm, where he spent two decades, to set up Pollination, an ambitious – and, he and fellow founder Tony O’Sullivan say, unique – global climate advisory and investment firm.

They say they will work across five areas: infrastructure investment, merchant banking, venture capital, non-profit work and an advisory arm. Two months after starting operation, the client list of their advisory business includes BHP, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, New Zealand’s a2 Milk Company and the NSW government.

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The Guardian, 14 Dec 2019: 'How do you transform an entire economy?' The firm taking on the climate funding problem