The Brief | September 18, 2023

The Brief: Five climate narratives, galvanizing climate solutions, Hawaii’s student housing bond, California takes on Big Oil

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Featured: Climate Narratives

From scientific to doomsday, the five climate-change narratives shaping discourse and decisions. Some are scientific, others skeptical. Some make moral arguments, others tout the opportunities. And, increasingly, many people are warning of doomsday to spur urgency – or defeatism. The climate discourse by individuals and groups typically involves five narratives about climate change, say Oxford University’s Bob Eccles and Melita Leousi, an advisor to the Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation in Delhi. “We believe that recognizing the existence of these types can be helpful in fostering dialogue between people and groups who are addressing the challenges and opportunities of climate change,” the authors write in a guest post on ImpactAlpha. They note, “Engaging with climate change deniers might naturally be harder.” 

  • Science-based. Eccles and Leousi lay their own cards on the table. “The scientific narrative is internally coherent, content-rich, complex, and based on a strong scientific consensus,” they write. “More than 97% of publishing climate scientists agree on the existence and cause of climate change.”
  • Skeptical inquiry. Leaving aside the outright denialists, the skeptical narrative includes arguments that the net-zero transition will lead to increased poverty, and that flawed models may overstate the human and economic effects of climate change.
  • Moral imperative. The moral narrative can include a religious dimension. This summer, Pope Francis called on world leaders to take concrete action to reduce emissions. “It is an urgent challenge, it cannot be postponed, it concerns everyone,” he said. “Let us protect our common home.”
  • Opportunity knocks. Do you believe that human ingenuity will yet come up with technologies to counter the pace of climate change? Those that subscribe to the opportunity narrative posit that companies that prepare themselves for the energy transition will prosper; those that do not will suffer.
  • Apocalypse soon. The doomsday narrative can be used both by those seeking to scare policymakers and the public into action, and by those seeking to derail such action on the grounds that “it’s already too late.”
  • Straight talk. “If well-meaning people who are concerned about climate change can’t talk to others simply because they talk about it in a different way,” the authors write, “we will not be able to establish the social and political consensus necessary to address an issue that confronts us all, whatever our narrative.” 

Dealflow: Climate Finance

Galvanize Climate Solutions closes Innovation + Expansion fund with more than $1 billion. The San Francisco-based growth equity fund, launched by billionaire investor Tom Steyer, is on the hunt for early- to growth-stage climate ventures driving timely decarbonization. The fund has backed nearly a dozen companies, including zero-carbon aviation fuel producer Lydian and sustainable farming lender Steward. The Innovation + Expansion fund also is buying up real estate assets to cut their carbon footprints. Portfolio companies receive regulatory guidance, as well as introductions to priority customers. “Fully realizing the most significant investment opportunity of our time and succeeding in ushering in the climate transition will require more than capital alone,” said Steyer, who launched the fund two years ago. Galvanize received commitments from endowments, foundations, family offices and other institutional investors.

  • Female leadership. “We deliberately built Galvanize to forge a new model for climate investing,” said Steyer. Co-leading the Innovation + Expansion fund are Saloni Multani, ex- chief financial officer of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign; Veery Maxwell, previously a founding partner at Ajax Investment Strategies; and Cliff Ryan, a former managing director at Riverstone Holdings. Nicole Systrom joined from Sutro Energy Group as chief impact officer.
  • Share this post.

Muni impact: $171 million bond for affordable student housing in Hawaii. Public higher education institutions in the US face a financial conundrum: many states are slashing university budgets, while students are struggling to afford tuition and housing. To improve student retention, private company CHF-Manoa, L.L.C. is seeking to raise $171.3 million to finance the development of housing for graduate students and junior-rank faculty at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. The bond, which closes on Thursday, Sept. 21, is being issued by the Public Finance Authority of Wisconsin. “The UH Manoa bond has the potential to increase on-campus housing affordability and to support young parents in balancing their academic careers and student lives,” writes Anna Rautenberg of HIP Investor, which gives the issuing entity a “net positive” impact rating of 66.2 out of 100. ImpactAlpha is featuring UH Manoa’s bond issue as part of our ongoing series with HIP Investor to highlight bond issues with social and/or environmental significance.

  • Inclusive education. UH Manoa has about 13,000 on- and off-campus beds for its 19,000 students. The bond would finance the construction of 558 more beds, a childcare facility, retail space and parking. The facilities are part of the university’s long-term plan to strengthen its resources and services, including below-market housing, while cutting its overall physical footprint. Installed solar panels will provide one-third of the facility’s required energy needs. In particular, “the bond could support increased higher education participation rates and outcomes for Native Hawaiians,” who comprise 15% of the university’s student body, says Rautenberg. 
  • Conduit issuer. The bond, which closes on Thursday, Sept. 21, is being issued by the Public Finance Authority of Wisconsin. Muni bonds are sometimes issued by a conduit entity in a different geography to obtain more favorable financing terms or to provide access to new capital markets.
  • Check out the bond’s details, and catch up on all of ImpactAlpha’s coverage of Muni Impact.

Dealflow overflow. Other deals crossing our desks:

  • Verkor said it raised €2 billion ($2.1 billion) for a battery gigafactory in northern France, including €850 million in equity, as well as €600 million in credit from the European Investment Bank. (TechCrunch)
  • Israel’s Prisma Photonics raised $20 million in Series C funding from Insight Partners, SE Ventures, Future Energy Ventures and other investors for AI-powered grid monitoring. (Prisma)
  • UK-based Treefera snagged $2.2 million to improve the quality of carbon offsets using AI and data “from a trillion trees.” (
  • The billionaire family behind Danish shipping giant Maersk formed a new company to produce three million tons of green methanol by 2030. (Bloomberg)

Signals: Climate Week

With laws and lawsuits, California takes on Big Oil. California Gov. Gavin Newsom put to rest questions about the status of landmark bills passed by the state’s legislature that would require large businesses to disclose their direct and indirect carbon emissions, as well as their climate-related risks and plans to address them. “Of course I’m going to sign those bills,” Newsom told The New York Times’ David Gelles at a kickoff ceremony for Climate Week NYC. California has long led on environmental issues, from regulating tailpipe emissions to launching the nation’s first cap and trade program. The state’s Air Resources Board last year ordered the phase-out of sales of gas-powered cars by 2035.

  • Climate deception. In a lawsuit filed last week, California charges ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute with suppressing information and misleading the public and policy makers about the risks posed by oil and gas emissions. “The climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. And these guys have been playing us for fools,” Newsom said. California seeks a “loss and damages” fund to compensate the state for disaster recovery and finance adaptation efforts.
  • Carbon accounting. The Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed the finalization of similar climate rules in the face of lobbying and legal threats. California’s laws “will help lead the way toward the kind of clear, comprehensive and comparable data on climate risks and impacts that investors, policymakers and communities need,” says Fran Seagull of the US Impact Investing Alliance. California’s mandate for reporting Scope 3 emissions from suppliers and customers will sharpen the distinction between disclosure and accounting, says Stanford Law School’s Alicia Seiger. If the new legislation “required companies to engage in carbon accounting by furnishing ledgers with an accurate measure of cradle-to-gate emission, the bill would better achieve its intended outcomes,” adds Seiger, who co-chairs California’s Climate Risk Disclosure Advisory Group.
  • Keep reading,With laws and lawsuits, California takes on Big Oil,” by Amy Cortese. And catch up with,Protesters and investor pressure at Climate Week NYC.” Check ImpactAlpha all week for Climate Week updates.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Don’t miss these upcoming ImpactAlpha partner events:

Hamdiya Ismaila and her Ghana-based investment firm Savannah Impact Advisory are appointed to manage the Ci-Gaba fund of funds to spur investment in West Africa’s small businesses… Natasha Dinham is named co-CEO of Roots of Impact alongside Bjoern Struewer. Roots of Impact’s new advisory board includes Aceli Africa’s Brian Milder, Mondiale’s Karim Harji, and Equilo’s Jessica Menon

Jules Kaufman, ex- of Gartner, joins RPCK Rastegar Panchal to lead its social enterprise practice… Mission Driven Finance seeks a remote structured finance director… S2G Ventures has an opening for a senior communications associate in Chicago… Alterna Impact is recruiting a Guatemala-based impact fellow… Triodos Bank is looking for an investment manager for its European energy transition fund. 

Impactable Investment Group is on the hunt for a UK-based impact investing intern… Tideline is hosting “Navigating impact lenses,” with Criterion Institute’s Joy Anderson, Rhia Ventures’ Erika Seth Davies, Calvert Impact’s Caitlin Rosser, Tim Docking of the Refugee Investment Network, and Cristina Shapiro of UNICEF USA, tomorrow, Sept. 19.

👉 View (or post!) impact investing jobs on ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub.

Thank you for your impact!

– Sept. 18, 2023