The science is clear—we are on the verge of disastrous climate tipping points, and corporate climate action is failing. In response to growing public and regulatory pressure, most large companies have made net-zero pledges and other commitments, but few are on track to achieve their goals. 

But as Mach49’s Co-Managing Partner of EMEA Delivery and Client Success Christian Lindener recently shared with the Innov8rs community, the future isn’t all doom and gloom. Clean technology is also at an inflection point—a far more hopeful one—and many of the old obstacles to green venturing are now firmly in the past. 

To take advantage of this opportunity before it’s too late, corporations need to build and invest in climate and sustainability ventures, quickly and at scale. The organizations that do so, have an unmatched opportunity to profit while doing good. According to a 2022 IFC report, the Paris Agreement opened up nearly $23 trillion in opportunities for climate-smart investments in emerging markets between now and 2030.

The Timeline for Action is Shrinking

As humanity’s window of opportunity to minimize the impacts of climate change is closing, so is our chance to reduce its economic damage.

According to S&P Global analysis, over 90% of the world’s largest companies will have assets at physical risk from climate change by the 2050s. In 2017 and 2018 alone, California’s climate-driven wildfires wiped out 25 years of insurance profits and bankrupted Merced and PG&E.

In developing countries, the picture is even more dire. The Vulnerable Twenty (V20), the group of nations most affected by climate change, lost 20% of their collective GDP to climate change impacts over the last two decades.  

At this point, it’s clear that governments and nonprofits need help to change the climate trajectory before it’s too late, and corporations have the resources and know-how to make a real difference. With executive willpower and effective venture strategies, our largest companies are positioned to achieve what no one else can while setting themselves up for long-term growth. 

The Climate Venture Calculus Has Changed

In the early 2000s, the first clean tech bubble burst—leaving many wary of investing in climate and sustainability-related ventures. But a lot has changed in the last two decades. Today, innovations in areas like solar, batteries, and nuclear offer viable green solutions that CleanTech 1.0 investors could only dream of. 

Alongside that technological revolution, market appetite for green products has grown exponentially. As the impacts of climate change become more visible, businesses and individual consumers alike are increasingly demanding products and services that minimize carbon outputs. In Europe in particular, tightening regulations and customer interest in emissions reductions are driving massive market growth. Norway is one country leading the way with 80% of new car sales being electric vehicles

Startups and established clean tech companies alike are taking advantage of new demand, but current market conditions are creating especially beneficial conditions for large corporations. In a (near) recession, the mothership advantage—access to resources, talent, and customers—matters more than ever. Overheated startup valuations have cooled and access to capital is tighter, making well-funded corporate venture capital funds an especially appealing partner to startups. And while companies still need to prioritize their bottom lines in their sustainability investments, today’s corporate shareholders are far more likely to support net-zero ventures. 

“Only the sharpest corporate venturing units will capitalize on this organic shift in the broader economic landscape,” explained Christian. “Now is not the time to be over-cautious or a cheap investor.”

Addressing the Climate Crisis Will Take Silicon Valley Speed and Scale

The market opportunity in clean tech is clear—but what makes corporate venture building and investing the right approach? 

The answer lies in speed and scale. According to climate experts, we have seven years to undo the damage caused by decades of lax policies and excess. We need to remove 0.96 billion tons of CO2 each year, even as the average European continues to emit 6.8 tons annually. And the gap between current climate investment and what’s needed remains massive. 

Startups simply don’t have the resources or economies of scale to tackle these problems on their own. Major corporations do—but they can only tap into that “mothership advantage” if they can overcome their inertia, antibodies, and orthodoxies. 

“Change is not coming from nice, small companies,” said Christian. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for big companies to do what they do best: invest in startups or build what they need to prosper in the long run.”

Create the Conditions for Success

To succeed in green venturing and investing, companies need to build growth engines that capitalize on their resources without getting bogged down in corporate bureaucracy. 

“Senior executives must shift away from a management review board mindset and adopt the discipline and strategy of venture capitalists,” said Christian. 

Where corporate boards might focus on short-term profits and net-present value, successful corporate venture leaders look instead toward customer acquisition, revenue, and option value. As Mach49 Founder and CEO Linda Yates describes in The Unicorn Within, effective growth engines result from placing small bets, standardizing processes, and then scaling. Ultimately, the aim is to build and execute a diverse portfolio of green ventures to maximize opportunity while minimizing risk. 

Secure Your Company’s Future Now

“Climate is not a weekend passion project,” Christian told the Innov8rs community. “Climate and sustainability ventures and investments are no different than any other venture or investment. They just happen to be good for everyone.”

They also offer unmatched potential returns. According to World Bank research, every dollar spent on climate and sustainability delivers a 4x yield. And for global corporations with significant resources and the creativity to think big, the potential impacts and profits are virtually unlimited.

Get in touch with the Mach49 team to build a pipeline and portfolio of green ventures that will help solve the climate emergency.