At the heart of Climate Change Capital (CCC) is the vision of creating wealth for investors while simultaneously benefiting both the public and the environment. Founded in 2003, the company is built on the premise that there is now abundant evidence to support man-made climate change and that the most viable solution to this problem is a transition to a low-carbon economy.
The transition, already under way, brings with it a growing sector of companies whose focus is on tackling climate change; CCC develops and manages funds that invest in these companies, and has already committed over US $1.5 billion to low carbon activities.
CCC also provides financial, strategic and policy advice to industries, financial institutions, clean-technology companies and governments on how to make the transition to a low-carbon economy. This is where James Cameron, CCC’s Vice Chairman and one of its founders, plays a key role: Cameron is a pre-eminent expert in developing market-based policy responses to climate change and has spent much of his legal career working on climate change matters.
‘In its simplest form,’ says Cameron, ‘my role is to paint the bigger picture of climate change and communicate the issues involved and the solutions to the problem. I advise government on policy and legislation and how we can transition to a low carbon economy.’
Keeping climate change at the forefront of the political agenda is not always easy, ‘especially during [a] financial crisis, when issues such as the environment and sustainability are quickly forgotten.’ Furthermore, Cameron acknowledges that public attitude surrounding climate change is at present unfavourable, and that there is a great deal of misconception surrounding the science of climate change. Yet he remains philosophical: ‘I expect the climate change debate to ebb and flow. You should never expect unanimity of view in science. I think we should focus on correcting the misconceptions about climate change and mobilise society to build a more sustainable future.’
By nature an optimist, Cameron believes that ‘we have the capacity, both intellectual and technological, to deal with the problem.’ In China, for example, he has witnessed significant progress: ‘China has high levels of scientific literacy, the capacity to plan over the long term and the power to implement change fast, which are all positive aspects when dealing with climate change. As a result it has invested heavily in clean energy technologies.’ This amounts to sound economic policy, considering that China does not have sufficient domestic energy reserves, struggles to manage the pollution it has already generated and does not have enough water to satisfy its growing population – in order to continue to grow at the pace it has set, it must invest in cleaner technologies.
Closer to home, the British government recently announced that it will provide up to £1 billion to fund the creation of a Green Investment Bank, which would invest in low-carbon technologies. Says Cameron, ‘I am in favour of a Green Investment Bank, which is properly capitalised. I believe we need an organisation that works in the long term, which is independent of government and which can channel public and private investment into the low-carbon economy and help create jobs and keep our economy competitive and successful.’
At the heart of CCC lies the idea that investors can now make a choice to invest in smarter, cleaner, modern technologies rather than old, mainstream industrial technologies. Moreover, CCC firmly believes that through these investments one can create wealth while also benefiting society and the environment, hence the company’s ethos: ‘to create wealth worth having’. The beauty of the natural world must continue to inspire us to change our habits and commit to clean technology in the future. One of the inscriptions – attributed to Nick Cave – on the CCC office panels sums it up perfectly: ‘In the end it is beauty that is going to save the world.’