VC Legend John Doerr Says Climate Change Offers Greater Economic Opportunities Than Internet Boom

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Venture capital legend John Doerr believes he has solutions to the climate crisis that could be as profitable for the tech industry and its investors as the internet boom.

“This is the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st Century, ”Doerr told MarketWatch on a Zoom call promoting his new book,“ Speed ​​& Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now, ”which he says offers innovative solutions.

For starters, “we can create 25 million jobs” in a clean energy economy, he predicts.

Read: Clean energy jobs are split almost evenly between Republican and Democratic districts – this shows where the most jobs are

“Speed ​​& Scale” sifts through huge amounts of facts. Throughout Doerr’s airy tale are interviews and mini-profiles with a Greek chorus of business stars who come up with solutions in their respective fields.

“I think Apple will eventually make a vehicle and a clean vehicle.”


– John Doerr

General Motors Co. GM CEO Mary Barra discusses electric vehicles for zero-emission autonomous ridesharing. Ethan Brown, CEO of Beyond Meat Inc. BYND, is here to talk about reinventing the burger with plant-based meat. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai weighs in on the biggest sustainability bond in the company’s history, $ 5.75 billion in green project funding. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN Co-Founder Jeff Bezos reiterates his company’s commitment to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Doerr is confident that technology large and small will make green economies profitable business divisions. “I think Apple will eventually make a vehicle and a clean vehicle,” he said.

It also quotes the wishes of Tesla Inc. TSLA,
-6.07%
and Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

GOOGL,
-0.52%

GOOG,
-0.41%
execute all operations in data centers without carbon energy, as well as Microsoft Corp. MSFT,
+ 0.14%
and Stripe to lead markets in carbon elimination.

Wait, there’s more, Doerr adds. Last month Larry Fink, Managing Director of investment management giant Blackrock Inc. BLK,
-0.11%,
predicted over 1,000 climate unicorns over the next few years by developing green hydrogen, green agriculture, green steel and green cement.

Read: BlackRock’s Larry Fink warns oil assets will pass into private hands to avoid scrutiny – and that’s ‘greenwashing’

Doerr, a Silicon Valley billionaire who was an early supporter of Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. AMZN,
+1.45%,
and Compaq Computer Corp., has the good faith to consider the financial windfall.

One of the early advocates of clean energy, Doerr, 70, thanks his daughter Mary for challenging her generation to solve a problem for which she is largely responsible. She posed the ultimatum when she was then 15 in 2006, at a dinner hosted by Doerr after the screening of former Vice President Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Read: Oil and gas are a $ 22 trillion “risky carbon bubble”: Al Gore

“The problem is accelerating faster than anyone expected,” said Doerr, a member of the boards of directors of Google, the Obama Foundation and ONE.org. “This is the critical moment. We are quickly running out of time. “

The consequences could hardly be more crucial: Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry are expected to increase 4.9% in 2021 as the global economy recovers and lockdowns from COVID-19 relax, according to the Global Carbon Project. Last year, emissions plunged 5.4%, the largest year-on-year decline on record.

A First Movers coalition of more than 30 companies including Apple AAPL,
+ 0.32%,
Amazon, Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL,
-0.88%,
and Salesforce.com Inc. CRM,
-0.22%,
announced by President Joe Biden last week, pledges to “push for commercially viable alternatives to decarbonize industrial cities, industrial sectors and more,” Biden said.

Read: Biden, Kerry to call on Amazon, Apple and others to help technology reduce emissions from airlines, steel and trucking

To get there, Doerr’s book outlines an action plan of six goals – electrify transportation, decarbonize the grid, fix food, protect nature, clean up industry, and eliminate carbon – to cut emissions in half. ‘by 2030, halve them in 2040, and eliminate them completely by 2050.

“With the exception of [during the economic slowdown brought on by] COVID, we have never lowered carbon emissions, ”Doerr said. But, using a comparison to World War II and a nationwide campaign to stop the production of automobiles and devices to create planes and battleships, the United States can do the same to reduce carbon emissions poisoning the world. atmosphere, he says.

Unfortunately, the devil is as always in the details. For example, Apple says it is moving forward to be completely carbon neutral by 2030, but admits that getting there will take a lot of work. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s $ 1.85 trillion social safety net measure that includes clean energy provisions remains in limbo, with fears it will continue to be chipped and compromised. to be adopted.

It is these actions of the current administration that give Doerr hope that the goals outlined in his fully documented and fully readable meditation can be achieved.

“I said it years ago: The internet was underrated for its potential societal importance and economic impact, and it has been over-delivered,” Doerr said. “The same goes for the clean economy, maybe even more. All I can say is stay tuned.


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