The renewed and growing political will to combat climate change is encouraging: the tall stack of climate executive orders signed by President Biden, the commitments from the EU, China, Japan, Korea and others to achieve net-zero in a timeframe that is in line, more or less, with scientific consensus, titan investors announcing climate portfolio commitments - are all signals in the right direction.
But how do we actually reach our destination?
The reality is that while we’re getting better at mapping the problems (for example, emissions, deforestation etc.), and getting better at technological solutions for climate change, we’re still miles off from mapping the policy pathways that enable us to deploy technology and finance at scale. Decision makers (policymakers in all governance levels, investors, companies, researchers and citizens) still face huge uncertainty regarding their choices.
Policymakers, by and large, don’t know what policy instruments to employ, and which ones will be most effective. Decisions are interlinked, complex, and span multiple issues - energy, transportation, agriculture, planning, social policy. Issues are still new to many. Stagnation is the default, undesirable comfort zone. And there is still a huge gap in knowledge about policy options. This means that policymakers are frequently forced to rely on ad hoc information and operate in silos, and as a result, they aren’t learning enough from the successes and failures of others. Yes, some countries, states and cities will be cutting-edge innovators sailing unchartered waters; but many more will need to know what’s already out there, and all will need to know what works.
Investors? Investors still do not systematically integrate climate policy risk into their decision making. They are getting better at looking at corporate policy - see for example the Net Zero Company Benchmark that Climate Action 100+, a coalition of investors with a whopping $52 trillion AUM, is launching next month. But public policy (with its risks and opportunities) is still not on the radar in a meaningful way.
I am incredibly thrilled to share that I recently embarked on a new leg of my journey - and founded Climate Policy Radar - a climate data start-up, on a mission to map and analyse the climate policy landscape globally, to support evidence-based policymaking and investment to drive the transition to a low carbon, resilient world.
Climate Policy Radar will radically scale collection and analysis of climate policy data, equipping decision makers with rich, high quality, insight-enabling data on the climate policy landscape. It will be developing an evidence base and bring to light knowledge that is painfully missing from our landscape: the policy pathways that will lead to a net-zero, resilient and just world.
Climate Policy Radar is going to build on the near-decade of work I did at the amazing Grantham Research Institute at LSE - where I led the work to map national climate legislation in 200 countries. It’s now time to take this to the next level - we’ll creatively use technology to rapidly scale the collection of analysis of climate laws and policies worldwide, and build a dynamic, robust, credible knowledge resource for the public policy and research community, the private sector, and last but not least - for citizens - the real power behind climate action.
Climate Policy Radar will be a proud member of the movement to harness digital technologies and AI for the planet. We will collaborate with all those with a shared vision of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals through developing digital public goods which are necessary conditions for an equitable, sustainable and resilient society. If that’s you, please get in touch to see what we can do together.