The Commonsense Conversations on Climate Change Series explores and highlights a wide array of topics related to climate change focusing on its effects on the financial services industry and broader economy. Initiating these dialogues is critical given the unique capability of financial institutions and markets to effectively identify risks and fund solutions. Though the topics vary, they each present ways to encourage a pragmatic, commonsense approach to the transition to a low-carbon and ultimately net-zero economy.

Innovative, cutting-edge green technologies such as carbon capture, artificial photosynthesis and hydrogen-fueled cars have the potential to be some of the greatest tools in our arsenal to deal with the looming threat of climate change. They have a powerful role to play in reducing carbon emissions, increasing the use of renewable energies, transforming waste, and much more. However, bringing new solutions to light requires extensive investment in the research and development process of these breakthrough technologies, and in subsequently bringing them to market. On May 24 we were delighted to hear from Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan, Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions at the U.S. Department of Energy, and John Goldstein, Managing Director and Head of the Sustainable Finance Group at Goldman Sachs, on how we can best scale game-changing new technologies and help build green finance from “billions to trillions.” How do we know which new technologies can be scaled up to reshape or replace older, carbon-intensive industries? How do investors assess and quantify what early-stage investments may do in terms of market creation? And finally, how can government agencies and private investors partner most effectively to ensure our most promising innovations succeed?