Inside London Climate Action Week.

By Avinash Mishra, Chief Investment Officer

Jul 09, 2024

Recently I had the pleasure of participating in several events around London Climate Action Week. Now in its fifth year, LCAW is coming into its own in terms of the breadth and depth of the programme that was on offer, and it was great seeing so many innovators, funders, corporations and government actors in attendance.

As we start preparing for COP29, we must focus on how to mobilise the $2 Trillion in annual climate financing that’s needed through to 2030 to meet our net zero ambitions. I joined the Climate + Finance event, organised by Devex, which addressed the future of climate finance on the path to adequate, fair, and effective funding – and made the point that mobilising this capital is only one part of the challenge: we also need to create the right innovative projects and scalable, market-based ideas which can absorb this capital.

It’s widely acknowledged that filling the funding gap will require significant commitments from the private sector and that, in turn, requires the right private sector opportunities. This is especially true in emerging markets - countries which in most instances bear little responsibility for our current climate challenges but are on the frontline of their impact. Often these are also the growth markets both economically and in terms of population and have the potential to lead the world in adopting green technologies and building for green growth.

GIF is helping to address this by derisking early-stage innovations and taking them through their initial growth pathways. SparkMeter, one of our portfolio organisations which attended LCAW this year, is an example of how early investment in innovation can drive further private sector commitments towards climate goals. SparkMeter provides smart metering and a grid management platform to mini grid and on grid distribution companies in emerging markets.

When GIF first invested in 2016, the innovation was is in its early development. Through the years, it has matured to serve hundreds of mini grids - and now also large distribution companies. SparkMeter’s technology not only allows utilities to manage and deploy their assets more effectively; it also provides a platform for efficient growth of capacity – most of which will be renewables-driven. Its success has led to a formal partnership with Honeywell to scale its solution further, increasing Honeywell’s commitments towards emerging markets and off-grid solar technologies.

My call to action for the climate community is to urge them to continue to make space for conversations about innovation, especially localised innovations created for emerging markets, and to facilitate market mechanisms for funding to be channelled to this. While this space may not be able to absorb headline-grabbing billions of dollars in financing in the short term, these catalytic investments have the potential to create multi-fold leverage in a few years’ time.

At the Climate Investment Summit hosted at the London Stock Exchange, I was delighted to discuss nature-based solutions and biodiversity in the session on Financing Strategies for Nature. It’s heartening to see climate conversations becoming wider and deeper and that we are making space for other aspects of the climate challenge beyond energy transition. 

I also attended a panel discussion on Bridging Climate Investment Gaps through PPP in emerging markets, which covered the need and opportunity for blended finance to encourage more private sector capital. We heard from representatives from the US DFC, Danida and the private sector, and it was clear to see that all sides intend to commit more capital, and that the public sector wishes to use its capital in the most catalytic form. I think bilateral development agencies, DFIs and MDBs have really shown a high level of ambition and innovation, often leading the way in creating solutions and products for quickly deploying and scaling up their capital. It’s for the private sector to build on this momentum and there are clearly opportunities to cooperate being created.

Finally, I joined a reception hosted by the Earthshot Prize which showcased their winners and finalists. It’s always a pleasure to be amid so much creative energy, optimism and bold ideas, and to be reminded that, as financiers, we can serve as enablers for these changemakers. GIF investee S4S Technologies was prominently featured – now widely recognised following a decade of work transforming agricultural waste and greening agri- processing and supply chains in India.

LCAW left me with an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism. Participants were open to collaboration, acknowledged the urgency and shared a real sense of purpose towards making a genuine case for responsible, green and sustainable growth for development and the planet. I look forward to following up on the conversations I started here – and to next year’s event.