@WorldChanging - Climate Change Adaptation: From Big Taboo to Business Opportunity
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by Jen Biederman on 01/18/2009
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And today, there was a room full of officials, business execs, and consultants like me crammed into a rather small auditorium to hear about "Climate Change Adaptation -- Finding the Business Opportunities." (The seminar was sponsored by Sweden's agency for international development aid, SIDA, and the networking group Globe Forum.) There was not a whiff of taboo in the room. In its place was the whiff of entrepreneurship -- driven in part, I sensed, by a healthy dose of genuine fear.
Why haven't the opportunities in adaptation been "found" already? After all, the world is plainly going to need new ways to do everything from watering crops in newly drought-prone areas, to keeping buildings cool in extreme heat waves, to responding quickly to floods and other extreme weather events. Somebody is going to make money finding -- and selling -- the answers to those problems. What's stopping them?
Actually, some people are already making money helping the world adapt to climate change. Australia, for example, has new desalination plants under construction in every major city, a friend there just related. Someone is surely making money on those. But the overall level of global progress on private sector investment to address adaptation to climate change is still just as frustratingly slow as progress on climate change generally.
The reasons have principally to do with the current rules of the game in financing, and -- said speakers at this symposium -- a simple lack of good communication and networking between the relevant players. Investors still don't talk enough with CleanTech entrepreneurs, mostly because the CleanTech people don't know how to talk to them. The interest is there, especially in the energy sector; but the flow of dollars, which requires first a flow of words, is still weak.
Moreover, the relevant technologies, which usually go under the heading of CleanTech (new energy, water, recycling, and waste disposal methods), are still perceived as high risk. Even risk-capital investors therefore want higher-than-normal returns. They are interested, they are moving in that direction, but they are wary -- especially since the relevant markets are highly politicized. As experience in countries like Denmark shows, your investment in something like wind energy may be entirely dependent on which government wins in the general election, and what policies they set.
This piece by Alan Atkisson originally appeared on the AtKisson Group blog, WaveFront.
Read the article in its entirety here.