Giant Leap’s Small Steps: Trillion-dollar commitments and ‘blah blah blah’ from the COP26 climate conference

- November 4, 2021 4 MIN READ
COP that: Prime Minister Scott Morrison headed to Glasgow to press Australia's case on net zero.
Welcome to Giant Leap’s Small Steps, a newsletter offering global insights and news on the impact startups landscape.

We share an edited version with Startup Daily readers every fortnight.

Giant Leap is Australia’s first impact venture fund, and they use this newsletter to surface the ideas and businesses that intrigue and inspire them and broaden their own thinking on impact business.

You can catch Giant Leap partner Rachel Yang on the Startup Daily show on ausbiz.com.au, offering insights on the impact of the startup ecosystem.

Here’s what they have to say this week:

Kick start

The COP26 climate change conference is in swing. Some hopeful highlights of the last few days included new net zero commitments from big emitters like India and other developing countries set to reduce emissions to 11% of current emissions.

In addition, over 100 countries committed to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, backed by a $19 billion commitment from both governments and companies. The private sector continued pushing the envelope yesterday, with wealth managers covering $130T in assets under management (40% of global assets) committing to divestment from emitting sectors.

While these are positive developments, there’s a long-road ahead of acting on commitments, which will require strong, ambitious leadership (at home, Morrison’s plan looks more like “blah blah blah” than a real roadmap) and unlocking over $100tn in new investment to finance transitions.

With the goings on (and probably some climate anxiety) front of mind, it’s a good time to re-arm yourself on where you can focus your energy.

This 15 minute video from Kurzgesact delves into the systems causing climate change and puts personal responsibility into perspective.

Yes, you can do your part (great resource from Eytan Lenko, Chairman of Beyond Zero Emissions, here). But voting for leaders committed to addressing Climate Change and (if you can) supporting early-stage climate tech initiatives will do much more than never flying again.

What we’re thinking about

The Pacific Ocean hosts a mass of plastic and trash the size of Texas —  three times larger than Victoria — and it’s growing. While the scale is substantial, we’re amazed and encouraged by the founders seeing, in Greta Thunberg words, “an opportunity”.

Take  “Jenny”, a funnel shaped net aimed at catching ocean waste that is aiming to extract 90% of ocean plastic by 2040. Closer to shore, BeachBot is building drones to pick up beach trash before it gets washed out to sea. And more recently in Australia, Zero Co raised $5 million via crowdfunding to both stop new plastic waste and pull plastic from the ocean to be used in its reusable containers.

In Australia only 2% of those who die in hospital are eligible for organ donation — that’s around 1600 people per year. With our population growing and aging, that’s quite the bottleneck for those in need of a life-saving transplant.

But science and gene editing may have the answer: For the first time in history, a pig kidney has been transplanted into a human. It’s usually rejected immediately due to a special sugar cell in the pig’s organs, but gene editing can remove this cell. While there’s still more testing to be done, we’ve potentially created a viable source of organs. But questions still loom, just because we can do this, should we?

Kick start

We released our inaugural Portfolio Impact Highlights, showcasing the amazing work our portfolio companies did in FY21. This includes generating $47.3m in healthcare savings, improving workplace policies for almost 250k women, and taking the equivalent of 1,351 cars off the road in CO2-e emissions avoided.

Check out the full doc here.

Connect with us:

Our Partner Rachel Yang is a judge for the Wade Insituates Pitch Night Showcase on November 9.

Our Partner Will Richardson is a mentor for the Upside Founders Program, a workshop that centres around a thriving self at the heart of a thriving business.

For the road

Missed our Impact Pitch Night with Startup Vic? You can catch all the action on Youtube.

Congratulations to Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes, who have just turned Grok Ventures in Australia’s first $1.5 billion climate tech fund.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Regen Ventures is well on track to raise a US$50m fund specifically for cleantech investing and Fifty Years, a pioneering US-based impact fund, raised US$90m from an investor group including 10s of “unicorn founders”.

Check out this fascinating chat with Small Giants’ Danny Alagmor on John Treadgold’s Good Future Podcast about how he pivoted his aspirations to be an astronaut to become one of the driving forces behind the impact investing movement. Amongst many things, Small Giants is currently running the Masters of Business and Empathy to build the next gen of impact leaders (taking applications here).

Music for the mind. Researchers found that listening to“Weightless” by Marconi Union led to 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates. Here’s a Spotify playlist of 10 songs that — that to varying degrees — were also found to have this effect. Quick caveat: Researchers warn not to play this while driving!

Change Catalyst has released its annual Allyship report — research detailing the importance of giving your team allies in the workplace. There’s plenty of detail here, but in a sentence: Allies help employees feel heard in the workplace and encouraging allyship can lead to better retention and performance from your team.

Those hips sure don’t lie, but this guy’s face is priceless.

A real Secret Life of Pets moment..