The Climate Investor Forum Summary

The innaugural Climate Investor Forum was held at the MCG in Melbourne, an initiative of Peter Castellas and Climate Zeitgeist, with support from Michele Hartz and a variety of sponsors.

In this recap I’ll take you through the sessions and present a single slide from each of the 25 business pitches. I hope you enjoy reading, learn lots, get inspired by the people and innovation, and importantly, reach out to make new connections, and see how you can amplify or integrate what you see into your own business and network.

Leave a comment and let me know which of the pitches appealed most to you, or if there is a business you think should be on the list or at the next summit!

Thanks in advance for sharing this post and subscribing to my Smarter Impact newsletter, which comes out every Thursday 🙂

“We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” – a fitting opener from Peter Castellas, quoting Barack Obama who got it from an American Governor. Peter added “Only as far as we seek, can we go – it is up to us to seek, dream, look and reach”

This recap is written from my hand notes, so quotes and attributions may not be accurate – thanks for your understanding!

Connecting the climate investment ecosystem: the incredible opportunity in front of us

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Megan Flynn heads Pollination, and called on the room to “Brave, optimistic & solution focused. That’s how we win” – the point was made that when hear “the Governments role is not to pick winners” the inversion is “Let the market decide” – though when faced with the legislation of the US Inflation Reduction Act, which contains $500 billion in new spending and tax breaks that aim to boost clean energy, reduce healthcare costs, and increase tax revenues – Australia must have a considered response if our market is going to keep pace.

“The IRA is a provocation that we need to respond to. Done well we can position ourselves at the centre of the main game”.

Audrey Zibelman, X, the moonshot factory;

The simplest expression of risk is a deficit of information.

We need 125 trillion dollars of investment to reach our Net-zero 2050 goals.

This is a systems of systems issue. People underestimate the pace of collaboration due to the size of Australia, though this is a benefit to us.

Get your hands on Professor Ross Garnaut’s book ‘The Superpower Transformation: Making Australia’s Zero-Carbon Future

Energy Justice (ensuring equitable access to energy for all members of society) is hugely important. EV charging infrastructure deployment into African American neighbourhoods is key to ensuring this happens.

Realiability and affordability are the axiom of successful power.

Setting policy at Government levels has a pull effect on the market.

Our present position combines opportunity, moral obligation and the existential dread of inaction.

Elizabeth O’Leary, Macquarie Asset Management

An eternal optimist, this is a whole of supply chain transformation.

We’ve moved way beyond the moral imperative. It’s an economic imperative, with Ag making up 18% of CO2 emissions, we are a sector in transition. How do we leverage the exciting state of natural capital? Solving the intersection between climate and nature is not about 1:1 equivalency.

We have Science Based Targets initiative (SBTI) alignment to 2030. The path is clear and it’s business as usual to get there. We need to figure out scope 3 emissions from fertilisers and move to net negative through 2030-2040. Removal of methane will get us to net zero, and we have great data and geospatial tools to work with.

The landbase is available to shift emissions. We need protocols on vegetation and land mass, adding canopiy cover and replacing deforestation with afforestation (planting new trees).

The keys to unlocking capital for climate solutions

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Ben Krasnostein, Kilara Capital | Kristian Fok, Cbus Super Fund | Andrew Bullock, Adamantem Capital | Paul Hunyor, Wollemi Capital, Diana Callebaut, Pollination and Ian Learmonth, Clean Energy Finance Corporation went at it;

More markets isn’t the problem. Poorly constructed ones are. – BK

Traditional private equity has a 3-5 year investment hold. This doesn’t work. Wollemi brings deep operational and technical expertise with a global footprint, looks at a 15-25 year hold, and is focused on bringing in more capital, and seeing nature recognised as infrastructure. – PH

Climate risk must be factored into ‘Best Financial Interest Duty’ (BFID) – KF

Everything we buy will be net zero within 10 years. In our fund we hold Australia’s largest horse feed supplier (Hygain), and provide the laundry facilities to most of the countries hospitals. Gas is used to power this cleaning and this is an example of the transition challenge we face. – AB

The future is pricing the environment into valuations. Pollination is encouraging capital, rewarding innovation, replenishing ecosystems and getting us to net zero. – DC

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is the Federal Governments Green Bank. We match $2.5 private dollars to $1 from the government, and have made lifetime investment committments of over $10 billion dollars since being created by the Gillard Government and is on track for 82% renewable power generation by 2030. – IL

A 60 second walk-around

Charlotte Connell of Climate Salad put together this short enthusiastic video from the day:

Getting down to business (pitches)

Congratulations to all those who presented, as well as those who applied, it was a fierce field from a quality perspective, and inspiring to see so much progression and passion from those presenting.

For the sake of brevity and fairness, I’ve chosen 1 slide from each presentation of the businesses that brought their best to the day. If something takes your interest, get in touch with them, I’m already seeing announcements, deals and press related to the ongoing success of those I met at the Forum.

If not us then who, and if not now, then when? 🙂

Natured Based Solutions

Moderated by Nerida Bradley, Chief Impact Officer of GreenCollar

“.. With the unprecedented corporate commitments to meet net zero targets, businesses involved in carbon offset project development, nature-based solutions, carbon trading platforms and carbon neutral services, biodiversity credits, climate smart technologies and indigenous land management are experiencing extraordinary demand..”

Guy Hudson | Loam Bio

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Andrew Walker | AirSeed Technologies

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Megan Wolf | Climate Friendly

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Circular Economy

Moderated by Matt Genever, Interim CEO, Sustainability Victoria

“.. The transition to a circular economy is gathering pace. Circular economy business models include designing out waste and pollution, renewable, recycled, or highly recyclable inputs in production processes, reducing biodiversity loss, sharing economy businesses, products as service and resource recovery..” 

Vanessa Vongsouthi | Samsara Eco

“Delivering climate repair through infinite plastic recycling”

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Benjamin Grant | Grounded Packaging

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Lewis Dunnigan | Bygen

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Climate Tech

Moderated by Dougal McOmish, Partner, Kilara Capital

“.. Climate tech is broadly defined as technologies deployed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or solve any aspect of the complex and multi- faceted problem of climate change. The technology innovations are part of a hot, fast-growing, everexpanding sector and are becoming the primary destination for an entire generation of tech talent (engineers, developers, data scientists etc.) ..”

Rob Waterworth | FLINTpro

“Full land sector accountability is completely within reach”

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Julian Turecek | AspiraDAC

“Solar-Powered Direct Air Capture”

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Camille Socquet-Clerc | Bloom Impact Investing

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Mobility and Transport

Moderated by Rasika Mohan, Sustainability, Resilience and ESG Market Lead, GHD Advisory Services

“.. This sector is attracting significant investment globally in innovative transit models and infrastructure leading to advances in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, micro mobility, sustainable fuels, marine transport, aviation and rail freight.. “

Tim Washington | JET Charge

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Richard S. | Adiona

“Delivering the Next Last-Mile”

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Jennifer Lauber Patterson – She/Her | Frontier Impact Group | Renuleum

“Renuleum’s biorefinary process converts waste & biomass into high quality renewable diesel, SAF and hydrogen”

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Launching the Transition Accelerator ..

Alan Schwartz AM, launched the Transition Accelerator, on the same day that the AFR detailed his $100M commitment to carbon reduction initiatives, alongside funding advocacy for policy and regulatory change. You can read his speech below:

..and a presentation by Raphael Wood

Representing Silva Capital, Raf presented a compelling look at the state of things, and how the challenge wasn’t funding, capital is looking for a home. He elaborated on the call to action being for businesses to innovate around providing solutions to our net-zero goals, and that once people see a forward price curve of carbon, they are easily motivated to act, and that they will need direct access to ACCUs (Australian carbon credit units) to meet their corporate emissions reduction goals.

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The role of the corporate ‘buyer’ and investor in scaling decarbonization solutions

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Moderated by Holly Kramer (Woolworths Group & Fonterra), Graham Winkelman (BHP), Ingrid Maes (W23 at Woolworths Group) and Fiona Messent (Qantas) made a formidable line-up of corporate representation and were remarkably candid about the challenges ahead. My notes include:

Fiona: The only lever we have is Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – electric / hydrogen planes are not practical in the short to medium term, particularly as most of Australians aviation is long-haul. – FM

Graham spoke to several of the challenges and the opportunities they were working on:

  • We are looking to electrify everything, though this is a considerable challenge when you have 260 ton diesel trucks.
  • Bringing EV charging in at this scale and on remote sites
  • Adding an equivalent power volume that diesel provides onto the grid for drawdown including energy management storage
  • Methane destruction for metallurgical coal
  • Low-carbon green steel
  • Tools and platforms to enhance traceability, particularly for social and environmental outcomes
  • Future minerals for the green transition
  • BHP Ventures, BHP Innovations and Xplor active in the market

Ingrid shared how 50% of the technology we need for net zero is in prototype and we have a way to go.

Getting back to business (afternoon pitches)

The Energy Transition

Moderated by Megan Fisher, CEO, EnergyLab

“.. The clean and renewable energy space covers economy wide deployment of technologies, products and processes and a vast array of business models from mature technologies and infrastructure to innovative Hydrogen and battery storage businesses, microgrids, industrial process innovation, to digitisation and demand management.. “

Sarah Russell-Smith | Amber Electric

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Tom Gooch | Neara

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Mark Croudace | MGA Thermal

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Blue Economy – Oceans and water

Moderated by Nick Chiarelli, CEO, Ocean Impact Organisation

“.. Alongside established ocean industries, new emerging business are proliferating as part of the blue economy. Addressing challenges from overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and the impact of climate change, are growing businesses in diverse areas such as aquaculture, marine renewable energy and blue carbon.”

Sam Elsom | Sea Forest

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I was so impressed by Sea Forests presentation I’m including their video for you:

Jon-paul Cox | Canopy Blue

“.. building the worlds first hyperscale seaweed farming and restoration sites..”

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Sam Bastounas | Pacific Bio / RegenAqua

“The new standard in wastewater management”

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Food and Agriculture

Moderated by J. Matthew Pryor, Co-Founder, Tenacious Ventures

Ellen Dinsmoor | Vow

“Feeding billions with sustainable food by creating better meat for meat lovers”

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Andrew Pedley | Carbonaught Pty Ltd

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Jim Fader | Eden Brew

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Another presentation entirely marked private and confidential – though do check them out, 🙂

Buildings and Infrastructure

Moderated by Christopher Lee, CEO, Climate-KIC

“.. As urban and industrial ecosystems evolve, rapid advances in energy efficiency and sustainability in the built environment and infrastructure include innovations in design and construction, heating and cooling, residential buildings, commercial buildings, integrated transport solutions and materials in the supply chain.” 

Gavin Dietz | Wattwatchers – Digital Energy

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David Wright | CIM

“Supercharging Building Operations”

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Gus Carfi | Polar Enviro

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Phew.. 25 business pitches in 4 concurrent sessions, and what a venue it was to look through the windows or step outside (inside?):

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What was Wow.. and a Journey to the Future

The final hour before the dinner commenced was hosted by Matt Drum, Managing Director of Ndevr Environmental riffing away with Charlie I. (Investible), Tim Hannon (Gaia Natural Capital) and Emma Jenkin (Kilara Capital).

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The days forum concluded with a poem by Peter Castellas, before drinks and dinner. I’ve quoted some of the three stanzas beow, ask him for a copy if you’re a fan of the spoken word, it was great 🙂

“.. There’s a feeling that resonated throughout today from every woman and man

That we are all in this together – we are all one clan

It’s a critical moment in history as many of here intuitively know

So we need to act decisively, which is the subtext of this whole show


Our privileged position on this planet means we have a responsibility that we can’t shirk

No more fluffing around the edges folks, we’ve got to get to work

And we saw this many times on stage throughout this long and fascinating day

The dedication, passion and spirit of those you leading the way


We are going to need these solutions to secure a sustainable future

As we suck out the worlds resources to feed the desire voracious consumers

And as billions move into the market economy for the first time many bathed in photochemical smog

We have to invest and help scale the technologies that can help the old ones leapfrog


I want to pause before I finish and take this moment to say thanks

We wouldn’t be able to underwrite this show without the support of the sponsors to be frank

They saw the need, got behind it and generously backed the vision

And could see the benefits of creating a network at the nexus of the investor/technology and corporate collision


And my respects to the people that came before us on this sacred hallowed ground

Lets all do part for our ancestors and make the next generation proud

Because all of us here are part of the movement, the spirit of our times

Yes it’s a zeitgeist – that’s really hard to capture in a series of bad rhymes


As we consolidate the friendships weve hopefully made at this inaugural Climate Investor Forum

Let’s try and finish the evening with an element of decorum

Because its now time to celebrate with some bubbles and some beer,

But first, get your phones out, mark your diary cause we are back this time next year! ..”

The End .. ? The beginning of dinner!

The Lord Mayor Sally Capp was in her regular affable and enthusiastic way, sharing the City of Melbourne‘s mission to have the entire municipality 100% renewably powered by 2030, with Net Zero set for 2040. Her call was for support in our energy transition, and that 60% of emissions comes from existing buildings that need retrofitting.

This was followed by a keynote from the Former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, who’s keynote presentation can be seen in full by clicking here.

He speaks to migration with dignity, thinking we were immune from the tribulations of the world, and the reality that science has now caught up with us. I highly recommend you watch the link above, and I did a follow up interview with him personally after it, which you can see below;

In the closing words of Peter Castellas “.. I invite you to participate on 20 March 2024 at the MCG where will take the event to another level. Viva la Zeitgeist 😊”

Make sure to follow the Climate Investor Forum 20 March 2024, MCG Melbourne. Connecting Capital to Scale Decarbonisation for the next one!

Thank you to the sponsors of the Climate Investor Forum

Major partner: Pollination | Diamond: Trawalla Group | Kilara Capital | Wollemi Capital | Adamantem Capital

Gold: Investible | Gaia Natural Capital | Ndevr Environmental | GHD Advisory | Silva Capital | Virescent Ventures | Sentient Impact Group | Mo Works | Small Giants Academy

Ecotone Partners | City of Melbourne | CO2 Australia Limited | trace