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#Featured: Impact Voices
A bluffer’s guide to the Bonn — or is it Fiji? — climate talks. What a time for a small island state to host a UN climate summit, Ed King writes on ImpactAlpha. Fiji is the host of the climate talks now underway. But Suva, Fiji’s capital, was too small, so “Bonn — a city that feels stranded in the 1990s — is filling the void, complete with sullen skies and chill winds,” says King, the founding editor of Climate Home News. Small islands will be the first to suffer as a result of rising seas or more intense storms, and King expects Fijians to “ram this message home with details of islands they plan to vacate as conditions worsen, and calls for greater financial support for at-risk countries.”
In his guest post, King previews nine narratives to watch for out of Bonn in the next two weeks. Some of our favorites: №1, the UK-Canada alliance against coal; №5, Pre-2020 action; №7, The (Trump who?) U.S. pavilion; and №8, The Macron factor. Watch the pavilion on the edge of the talks backed by state and local leaders like California’s Jerry Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It’s part of the We Are Still In campaign and U.S. senators, members of congress and a few potential presidential candidates are stopping by to ring the climate alarm bells.
Take a spin through Ed King’s “Bluffer’s guide to the Bonn — or is it Fiji? — climate talks,” on ImpactAlpha:
#Dealflow: Follow the Money
Panorama Education raises $16 million to promote “socio-emotional learning.” Boston-based Panorama provides software to help public K-12 systems understand how self-esteem, family engagement and other factors affect student achievement. Panorama’s goal: “helping school districts take a more holistic view at growing and developing a child,” says CEO Aaron Feuer. The software, called Panorama Student Success, is being used in 400 school districts, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. Panorama aims to integrate the software with 300 other educational-data tools, from 20. The company’s Series B funding was led by the Emerson Collective with backing from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Spark Capital, Owl Ventures, and SoftTechVC. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg backed Panorama’s 2013 $4 million seed funding round.
Lightsource, Macquarie partner on large-scale solar in India. India wants to develop 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022, up from 14.8 gigawatts in September. That represents a big opportunity for outside investors and solar developers. In partnership with U.K.-based Lightsource, Australian bank Macquarie is committing up to £30 million ($39.5 million) from its joint venture with the U.K. government to build a 300-megawatt portfolio in India, Reutersreports. The partners’ first project is a 60-megawatt solar farm in the state of Maharashtra. Macquarie has earmarked £200 million ($261 million) to invest in commercial-scale green projects in India and Africa. Lightsource, founded in 2010, has developed $3 billion in solar projects totaling two gigawatts in capacity, mostly in the U.K. and Europe.
SolarHome secures debt financing from Kiva. More than 150 million people live off-grid in Southeast Asia and spend $3 billion each year on lighting and heating substitutes, like kerosene. SolarHome sells pay-as-you-go home solar products to rural, unbanked, off-grid households in Myanmar; it is installing about 150 units per week. Kiva is backing the startup with a $50,000 loan to support the distribution of 2,000 units by year-end and 10,000 next year. SolarHome was developed and seeded with $500,000 by venture builder Forum Capital. It recently raised $625,000 from Uberis Capital and Beenext Venture Capital in a pre-Series A funding round. SolarHome’s Kiva loan was facilitated by Impact Investment Exchange (IIX). IIX helped Mera Gao Power raise $2.5 million to expand solar power to 5,000 off-grid villages in India.
#Signals: Ahead of the Curve
Argentina wants a slice of the impact investment pie. Attracting impact investors is part of Argentina President Mauricio Macri plan to rebuild the country’s investment environment. The country has for the most part been left out of the private investment game for the past 15 years, after an economic crisis in 1998 and currency crisis in 2002. Impact investing is no different. Mexico, Colombia and Brazil attracted most of Latin America’s $7.2 billion share of last year’s $114 billion in global impact capital. To get on the impact-investing map, Argentina is reorienting policies to be more pro-investment in general. It also is adopting legislation to encourage social entrepreneurship in the country. “The government’s social agenda is so big that it can’t cope alone, nor can philanthropy — so you need something else,” a government insider told the Financial Times [paywall]. Early shoots: a Buenos Aires-based early-stage venture firm is raising a $120 million impact fund with backing from the Inter-American Development Bank. The city of Buenos Aires is looking intoa social-impact bond as a solution to youth unemployment. Sebastian Welisiejko, the former executive director of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, tells ImpactAlpha he has returned to Argentina (his homeland) to take a senior position in the Cabinet Office “with the mission of putting Impact Investment on the public agenda.”
Managing climate impacts through 2050. Only about 50 of the 250 top corporate producers of greenhouse gases have put in place strategies to reduce their climate impacts through 2050 and beyond. But those that have are demonstrating that their plans are creating value by growing revenue and reducing costs.
A new ranking from Thomson Reuters charts the top 250 corporate producers of greenhouse gases, which, together with their supply chains, account for about a third of total greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide. The top emitter is Coal India, followed by PJSC Gazprom and Exxon-Mobil. The Global 250 Greenhouse Gas Emitters, ranks companies based on the “maturity” of their strategies for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions as well as their “momentum” (or not) toward lower emissions. This “M2 Lens” sheds light on firms potential “to develop a durable Sustainability Premium,” the paper says.
Ranked №23 on the emitter list, “Toyota, more than any other automaker in the G250, exemplifies a company that is building its brand and culture around sustainability,” the paper says. BMW, Renault also are considered Leaders. Nissan, Ford and Fiat Chrysler are classed as Defenders, showing middling maturity scores and negative momentum.
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