Three Reasons Impact Investors Aren’t Sweating Trump’s Climate Policies: An Interview with Nancy Pfund

Next Billion
By JAMES MILITZER
March 29, 2017

The Trump administration’s cli­mate agenda is com­ing into alarm­ing focus – this week, the pres­i­dent signed what’s been called a “sweep­ing demo­li­tion of Obama-​​era poli­cies on coal min­ing, frack­ing, green­house gas emis­sions and cli­mate change.” Nancy Pfund’s impact invest­ing firm, DBL Part­ners, is heav­ily invested in environment-​​focused enter­prises. So with all the uncer­tainty, why is she still smiling?

No ques­tion, we’re in unprece­dented and unpre­dictable ter­ri­tory with our new admin­is­tra­tion,” Pfund said in an inter­view recorded at The Economist’s “Impact Invest­ing: Main­stream­ing Purpose-​​Driven Finance” event last month. “How­ever – and I’m not alone in say­ing this – what hap­pens in Wash­ing­ton is not going to stop this trend toward inno­va­tion and sus­tain­abil­ity. And that’s because the costs are in our favor.”

The global cost of solar, wind and bat­ter­ies is on a dra­matic down­ward tra­jec­tory, she said, which has trans­formed them from an expen­sive, alter­na­tive solu­tion to a “main­stream, cost-​​competitive approach to devel­op­ing your grid.” And as the mar­ket has taken the reins from the gov­ern­ment, the fate of sus­tain­able energy solu­tions has moved largely beyond Trump’s reach. “This really doesn’t have to do with pol­i­tics. It has to do with what’s cheap, what’s high-​​performing, and what fits into the grid of the future.”

But even on the gov­ern­ment front, there is rea­son for opti­mism: “States play a huge role in the way that new energy tech­nolo­gies are inno­vated and released and reg­u­lated,” Pfund pointed out. “There’s a lot more action at the level of regions and state gov­ern­ments than at the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. … In most state houses across the coun­try, this is a bipar­ti­san issue. Some of the high­est pen­e­tra­tion wind states are the red­dest states of our nation – it’s not just a coastal phe­nom­e­non. And also, clean energy polls very well across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. The fact that jobs are being cre­ated in red, blue, pur­ple states, what­ever – that speaks vol­umes. … It’s not just a path to sus­tain­able energy, it’s a path to qual­ity job creation.”

To read the full arti­cle, visit Next Bil­lion.