Podcast | 03 May 2024

Greenomics – Ep. 10 | Out of the frying pan? Climate impacts and adaptation opportunities

Sarah Nelson

Senior Economist, Economics & Sustainability

A climate, sustainability and economics podcast from Oxford Economics

How does extreme heat affect human health and the economy, and what is being done about it? Shilpita Mathews, Senior Economist at Oxford Economics, joins our host Sarah Nelson to discuss adaptation. Shilpita speaks to guests Jane Gilbert, Chief Heat Officer of Miami-Dade County and Emilie Mazzacurati the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Tailwind about the risks that extreme heat poses for our economy and the landscape of solutions available to help cities, communities and individuals adapt to a changing climate.

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Sarah Nelson:
Hello, welcome to Greenomics, a podcast from Oxford Economics, where we delve into the complex relationships between climate, nature and our global economy. I’m Sarah Nelson and joining me today is Shilpita Mathews. Shilpita is a senior economist in the economics and sustainability team. And we’ll be discussing climate impacts, extreme heat and various adaptation solutions to enhance global resilience.

We’ll be taking a slightly different phone to friend format in this episode as Shilpita speaks to various global experts in this field. Shilpita Tell me, what do you have in store for us today?

Shilpita Mathews:
Thanks, Sarah. Delighted to be here. This episode builds on episode four, last autumn on physical climate risks, where we considered how understanding worst case scenarios can help for decision making. In this episode, as you mentioned, we’ll focus on the different impacts of physical risks and adaptation solutions that are being employed globally to build climate resilience. To dive into this topic, I’ll speak to two experts in the field, Jane Gilbert and Emilie Mazzacurati.

We’ll focus on adaptations, solutions from both a policy as well as technological perspective. First, we’ll go to Jane, who will highlight the human consequences of extreme heat in Miami. We’ll learn about her role as a chief Heat officer and specific policy solutions she’s implemented. Next, Emily will introduce us to the landscape of adaptation technologies and we’ll discuss how to unlock private investment in this area.

Sarah Nelson:
Sounds like we have a lot to cover. So over to you. Shilpita for your first interview.

Shilpita Mathews:
Awesome. Thanks, Sarah.

To begin our climate adaptation journey, we’re joined by Jane Gilbert, who is calling in from Miami, USA. Jane, we are so excited to have you on this show. For our listeners, Jane Gilbert is the chief heat officer for Miami-Dade County and the U.S.A. Jane works across departments and partners to address the increasing risks to human health, lives and livelihoods associated with extreme heat. Jane has over 30 years experience in public private partnerships, climate mitigation, adaptation and urban resilience. Before joining the county, Jane served as the city of Miami’s first Chief Resilience officer for four years. In this role, she developed and implemented a city level response to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change. Jane, welcome to the podcast.

To start us off, could you please tell us about the impacts of extreme heat in Miami? What are the different channels of impact and how are people being affected?

Jane Gilbert:
Thank you and it’s a pleasure to join today.

So when I was appointed coming up on three years ago, I was charged by our mayor to address the increase health and economic impacts of extreme heat here in Miami-Dade County. And we knew that it was a high priority for our vulnerable populations, but we didn’t fully understand how people were being impacted by extreme heat. The data on the health impacts of extreme heat is limited because generally heat related illnesses and deaths are under-recorded. So we hired someone to look into it and what he did was look at heat related emergency department visits and hospitalizations by zip code throughout Miami-Dade County and then looked at what the correlating factors might be geographically and demographically in those areas.And we had a wide disparity where some zip codes were having four and five times the rates of emergency department visits and hospitalizations related to heat than other zip codes in Miami-Dade County. And the top correlating factors were high poverty rates, high land surface temperature, high percentage of outdoor workers living in those areas and high percentage of families with children under 18. So we know and you know, through more anecdotal information from doctors, nurse practitioners and the community itself, we know that people are exposed either at home because they can’t afford the rising costs, utility costs of cooling their home or their AC breaks down in July and they can’t afford to get it fixed or they can’t get a technician in time to get it fixed. That’s one area they might be exposed to.

We have over 300,000 workers that are exposed to heat outside every day and we have over 90 days a year where the heat index over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You’d have to translate that into centigrade. But it is it is. We have a chronic high heat problem here. So it’s those that are unable to live, work and move around in AC environments. It’s people who are walking and waiting at a bus stop too long. I’ve had our chief medical officer talk about having patients come in to the emergency department visit referred by a bus operator because they were at a bus stop too long. So it’s our most vulnerable populations that are far more exposed than people who live, work and move around in AC environments. So that’s what we know that’s really informed how we respond as well. And it’s certainly the health impacts, but it’s also the economic impacts. So, you know, when we talk about our construction and landscape property maintenance, that’s the biggest area of workers that are exposed to heat every day. If they’re losing worker productivity time, they have higher workman’s comp claims.

And it’s not just from heat related direct like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It could be someone falling off a ladder because they were dizzy or they had a cardiac arrest because they were overheated. So those workers are have workman’s comp claims. They have lost time at work and productivity goes down. So there’s significant economic impact as well. In fact, we worked with the Arsht-rock Resilience Center on a economic impact of labor productivity alone in the greater Miami metropolitan area. And they found that the economic impact of extreme heat is currently $10 billion a year, and that’s projected to go to $20 billion a year by mid-century. That’s like getting a major hurricane every year.

Shilpita Mathews:
And Jane, tell us a bit more about your role of a Chief Heat officer and what this involves, as well as how you collaborate with that global network of chief Heat officers to address some of the challenges that you were just describing.

Jane Gilbert:
Sure. So I was the first to be appointed to this role. However, cities have been working on addressing extreme heat in various ways in the past. However, those roles have been within certain departments. For instance, an emergency department looking at extreme heat response protocols or urban planning department to look at how they policies to address urban heat islands to mitigate the urban heat islands. But no one was looking at the health and economic impacts and how to design solutions that really cut across departments and partners across the community. And that’s really what the thinking behind having someone who reports directly to the Mayor’s Office and is charged with, similar to the way a Chief Resilience officer is, and I work very closely with our Chief Resilience officer here in Miami-Dade County, work across departments to address those impacts in cross-sectional ways health and housing, trees, you know, cooling neighbourhoods in overall neighbourhood planning design, emergency management, looking at the trifecta of heat, flood and hurricanes.

So to really look at the intersectionality, how do we partner with the health care industry on this? So I put together a multi-disciplinary task force, including co-chaired by a medical doctor who’d spent her career working in vulnerable communities and including our National Weather Service or State health department or municipal partners. So Miami-Dade County is a regional government. We have 34 municipalities within the region, and we serve as the municipality for 1.1 million people. So we had municipal involvement, community based organization involvement, universities, and we did a series of public workshops, six of them on different topics related to heat, and gathered more information on both what the challenges and opportunities were and the series of recommendations for going forward. All of that was synthesized by the task force into three goals and 19 actions. And so that now I’m in full implementation mode of that extreme heat action plan, but I’m not leading on all the actions it is truly a collective action strategy where our university partners are leading on something, the National Weather Service has led, our health care partners have led on other actions. It is truly a collective action plan. Our community based partners have led on certain actions. The three main goal areas are to inform and prepare people, that’s one. Goal two, is to help people stay cool at home affordably and make sure our emergency facilities have energy redundancy to stay cool when power outages happen. And then the third is to cool our neighbourhoods. I can speak in many policies, actions and initiatives in each of those three goal areas, but that’s really my role is to bring the different stakeholders together and ensure action on those three goal areas.

Shilpita Mathews:
Thanks, Jane. That sounds very comprehensive in terms of the different facets you’re addressing. And given that we have limited time on this podcast, it would be great just to provide a glimpse of that to our listeners. Could you share maybe an example of a specific climate resilience policy you’ve implemented as part of this plan and your tenure as the Chief Heat Officer?

Jane Gilbert:
Yeah, why don’t I do one for each of the goal areas? So in the inform and prepare people, we work with the National Weather Service on piloting, lowering our heat advisory and warning thresholds to heat index of 105 for heat advisory and heat index of 110. But to start messaging to the public at even lower thresholds of the dangers of high heat and humidity, we made May 1st through October 31st an official heat season, communicating to our public that any day during that time, people need to look out for themselves, their loved ones, their workers in terms of making sure they have access to water and cool rest breaks if they’re if they’re exerting energy outside. In terms of cooling homes, our mayor and commission approved 1.3 million to ensure that every one within our public housing had access to efficient cooling systems. And we installed 1700 efficient AC units last year before last summer’s very hot summer, thankfully. When it comes to tree canopy. I’m wrapping up a draft plan to get to our goal of a 30% tree canopy, focusing on those areas with less than 20% tree canopy and greater than 20%.
Poverty rates are targeted areas where we also have the most heat related illnesses. And the commission and Mayor have committed real dollars to these. Last year was over $5 million towards that tree canopy goal. And this year it’s over $7 million. And we just secured a U.S. Forest Service grant for 10 million to invest in street trees in our urban heat islands over the next five years.

Shilpita Mathews:
That sounds really comprehensive. Looking ahead, what are the biggest challenges and opportunities you see in city level adaptation responses to climate change?

Jane Gilbert:
Yeah, absolutely. So climate change is a slow moving, increasing stress, largely. We do have shocks, increasing hurricanes, but it is in a city that’s also facing great economic inequality and a housing crisis. For instance. Sometimes that housing crisis becomes more important than our climate resilience policies or other priorities can become more immediate. Priorities can come before the long term adaptive ability of a community. And so that’s the challenge. The opportunity is that by addressing both carbon mitigation, so reducing greenhouse gases and climate adaptation, climate resilience, we strongly believe you can build a city that is much higher quality and truly future ready not only for a climate, but for other changes in the way people want to live, work and play and move in a city. So we want a city that’s more transit oriented and bicycle and pedestrian friendly. While you need to have adequate shade cover and access to drinking water in order to do that, and you need to build mixed income, mixed use developments along our transit lines, which also happen to be on higher ground. That is where we’re going to have a more cohesive community, a more thriving community, an equitable community. So we really believe that the future ready vision of our Greater Miami area is worthy of investment beyond climate resilience. It’s worthy of investment because it’s the kind of community we want to live in.

Shilpita Mathews:
Jane, thank you so much for providing that holistic picture. We’re so grateful for your time and wish you all the very best as you promote climate resilience on the ground.

Jane Gilbert:
Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

Shilpita Mathews:
Last but not least, we are joined by Emilie Mazzacurati to discuss the landscape of adaptation technologies. Emilie is a climate tech entrepreneur and investor with 18 years of experience working at the intersection of climate change and capital markets. She’s the co-founder and managing partner of Tailwind, an innovation studio focused on accelerating innovation for climate adaptation and resilience solutions. Emilie is also a board member of Climate Resilience for All, a gender focused climate adaptation non-profit dedicated to the protection of people and livelihoods from extreme heat and all its impacts. Emilie, we have just been hearing from Jane about her work and building Miami’s resilience to extreme heat. You currently sit at the intersection between the public and private sector. Tell us a bit more about your climate journey so far and how this motivated you to co-found your event.

Emilie Mazzacurati:
And thank you for having me. So my climate journey, I’m part of the generation who had an aha moment when Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth back in 2006, dating myself a little bit here, but I was in grad school. I was studying environmental policy and development studies, and I realized that it was all pointless if we didn’t address climate change. So I dedicated my career to climate since I worked on carbon markets for a while and climate policy. And then I realized that this was not going to get us there fast enough. And back around 2010, we had a massive failure of climate policy at the global and domestic level in the U.S. between the COP in Copenhagen, the failure of the cap and trade bill in the Senate, and we had the IPCC release the AR five report, which was the first report to clearly state that we were locked in a lot of impacts from climate change, regardless of what we were going to do on greenhouse gas emissions. This was also the time that the IPCC released science, showing that we were locked in a lot of climate impacts. And for me that was the signal that I should focus on adaptation and preparing for those impacts. I started a company in 2012 called 427, and then we were focused on helping our customers access and understand the science in global climate models and the data to make decisions related to the impacts of climate change and climate risk. Were the goal to help drive investments in adaptation. And we worked with a range of segments. We worked with cities, we worked with hospitals, we worked with corporates. Eventually, we settled and focused on doing mostly work for the financial sector, working with large financial institutions and banks, and helping them understand the exposure across very large portfolio of investments or loan books. I sold that company to Moody’s in 2019 and spent a couple of years with Moody’s, helping both disseminate the type of data and analysis that we had developed, but also integrate climate into existing products and data sets that were made available to financial institutions in macroeconomic models, in real estate data sets in credit risk models, and really try to be mainstream. I left Moody’s and sort of took a step back, looked around and saw how far we had come.

Globally, financial markets had done a really long journey to understand that climate risk was material both transition risk and adaptation risk, physical climate risk. And yet, in thanks to a lot of people, thanks to the work of the TCFD and countless others, but we were still not seeing this awareness of the risk turn into investments in adaptation and it was not yet leading to adaptation and resilience solutions being deployed at scale. And so that led to the creation of Tailwind. When I met my co-founder Katie MacDonald, who comes from the world of climate tech mitigation, where there’s a thriving ecosystem of incubators and accelerators and investors, philanthropies, foundations, media who are all focused on accelerating innovation to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent emissions, capture them however many ways around mitigation. And we had that shared observation that we needed an ecosystem like this one for adaptation and resilience technologies so that we could do better, cheaper, faster on adaptation as well. And that’s what Tailwind is focused on.

Shilpita Mathews:
Thanks, Emilie. That sounds really comprehensive. And what are the private investment opportunities you’ve seen in the adaptation space? Are there particular adaptation technologies or sectors which have high investment potential?

Emilie Mazzacurati:
Certainly. First, let’s start with the definitions. We define adaptation and resilience solutions as the products and services that predict, prevent, mitigate and enable recovery from climate impacts like floods and heat waves, storms and wildfires. It’s a really large market. There was a recent report released by MSCI, the Bezos Earth Fund and the and the Global Adaptation and Resilience Investor Group that called it the avoidable opportunity. We are going to get exposed to climate impacts. We are going to need solutions. Why are we not investing in solutions? It’s also a sizable market. The World Economic Forum estimates that the market size will reach $2 trillion by 2026. And currently it’s nothing. It’s 1% of the U.S. investments. It’s 10% of global climate finance flows. And that’s looking primarily at public finance. Everything needs to be done. And adaptation touches on every sector of the economy.

So if you think about our basic human needs, what we need as society and as individuals to thrive, we need food and water and shelter and health. We need natural systems, we need social systems, we need critical infrastructure, and we need a functional economy to tie all those things together and provides jobs and livelihoods. And so each of those translates as investible sectors. There’s water tech, there’s ag and food tech, there’s technology focused on the built environment, technology focused on grid resilience for the power sector. Technologies focused on disaster risk and recovery technologies or investments that we can make to protect our ecosystems. And so each of those are, in fact, a set of opportunities provided that the developers or the innovators understand how the market and the problems that they’re tackling are going to be affected by climate change over time, and that they’re really focused on addressing those issues as the evolve over time.

Shilpita Mathews:
And are there particular say technologies where this business case has come to fruition and you are seeing private investment being unlocked?

Emilie Mazzacurati:
Sure. It’s still very nascent but we’re seeing some very interesting early, early movers. Really smart players looking at some of those needs, both as investors and as innovators. So starting with the innovators and the companies we see on the software side. There’s, of course, a lot of climate data, software analytics sensors. So think of apps to report issues during extreme weather events in real time. We see models to help utilities incorporate climate and weather into their investment planning problem processes. We see we see companies that do marine biodiversity monitoring and reporting, so providing AI powered species identification and counting underwater. On the hardware side, we see companies that do water harvesting for to supply water. We see biodiversity friendly eco concrete for seawalls and flood protection. We see a medical device, for example, a jacket that you can use like a defibrillator in case of heat stroke to help revive people in that last half hour where their organs are starting to shut down. We see fire tech companies using airplane reactor to project fire retardant to attack firestorms. We see novel protein products to combat malnutrition in Africa. So there’s really a really broad range of companies that are either completely commercial in nature or some are maybe a little more impact driven and looking for more of a blended type of investments that are going to help us prepare better. And then there’s a lot of things that just haven’t been invented yet or haven’t been deployed at scale. And we need those technologies and solutions and those innovative business models to be deployed at scale.

Shilpita Mathews:
Wow. These sound really exciting. Emily And you’ve laid out a strong business case for adaptation. Tell us a bit more, switching gears about the particular barriers or challenges some of these companies are facing and what’s holding back private actors from jumping as in the case of mitigation that you were describing?

Emilie Mazzacurati:
We see three main gaps in the markets. First one, not necessarily in order of priority, but I’ll talk to the ecosystem gap first. It is not a problem that is really well known and understood. There is a lack of a common language, a common taxonomy to help describe and identify those opportunity, a lack of understanding of where the business models are, What’s commercially fundable, and what might require, again, more of a blend of public and private or public and private finance. And it took us years to sort this out.

On the mitigation side, we just don’t have time. We need to figure out those answers. So that’s one big piece and one of the things we’re working on right now is a very extensive taxonomy of investment opportunities that we’re going to be releasing in May that provides a full landscape of where the opportunities are in software, in hardware, in infrastructure, investments, in more from peak and charitable activities for what needs to be done, where then there’s a capital gap and that we’ve talked about. There’s just not a lot of investors. There’s certainly some great funds that have emerged that may be focused on. There’s one that’s focused on fire technology. There’s one that’s focused on adaptation in the water sector. There are phones that are sector agnostic but focused on technology transfer seeking companies that have scalable or scaled technologies and bringing those to developing countries and least developed countries in particular. But it’s still not a lot of money. And so we think if we help lower the barriers to entry, but providing that education and those partners as to where the opportunities are, we are going to see lot of investments because there is a lot of money in climate tech focused funds and that it’s close enough.

We will get these funds flowing in with sufficient education. And then the third gap, which might be the most important, and is the demand gap. The users, the adopters of those solutions are not yet ready to buy them. And so we heard Jane earlier describe the some of the challenges and for a city or local governments to really get to the point where they have funding, they have consensus, they have identified the right solutions. And so as long as we’re not seeing local governments and corporations articulating what it is that they need and turning that need into a clear demand signal that might look like a procurement order for a product or a service that have certain characteristics and performance standards, then it’s going to be really hard for the market. So if there’s no demand signal, then you’re not going to have innovators or innovators don’t know what they’re innovating for. They don’t have that deep understanding of the user needs and the and the customers pain point. And investors are not going to invest because if there’s no market, why would they invest? And so that’s why you need to really tie those three together. But doing a lot of work with corporates and with local governments to help them continue their journey from understanding their risks to having a clear articulated view of what products and services they need to lower those risks. And having a business case for that and having the money to then buy those products and services. That’s the big challenge that we have ahead of us, but that’s what’s going to really open up the market.

Shilpita Mathews:
Thanks, Emilie, and as a final parting note, it’ll be great to hear from you. Say, one key quick win or area of focus that you yourself or tailwind has in terms of unlocking some of this private investment and addressing those three gaps that you describe.

Emilie Mazzacurati:
What we do, we do a couple of things. I have one, there is no single magic silver bullet here, but we are already deploying capital and investing into early stage companies and we find that it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of money to help people go through the next step. And it we have so much learning from climate tech mitigation, from project finance that we can really leapfrog a lot of those issues provided that we bring the right expertise and the right mindset to apply to those issues. The other thing that on highlight is our work with corporates doing industry innovation round tables and helping expose corporations that have immediate pain points related to climate impacts to innovators and startups that have products that may support them. And in helping with this matchmaking, helping startups understand better their clients and customers see what could be possible out there that they may not be aware of and maybe start piloting some of those solutions or really trying to plug the two sides of the market together to get work done.

Shilpita Mathews:
Amazing. Emilie, it has been a pleasure to have you join us in this episode. Thank you so much for your time. And we’ll be closely following your work at Tailwind, as well as that upcoming report that you mentioned that’s being launched in May. We wish you all the best for your work as you deploy pioneering adaptation solutions and as we prepare for climate impacts that lie ahead.

Emilie Mazzacurati:
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Sarah Nelson:
So back in the room with Shilpita, thank you so much for hosting such a fascinating series of discussions. You spoke with your guests about the risk of extreme climate impacts, what it could do to health, as well as some of the adaptation opportunities that are already proving necessary in places like Miami. I have to say I’m perhaps not the most sort of optimistic about these things, but you discussions did leave me feeling pretty worried about extreme heat. What were your main takeaways from these conversations?

Shilpita Mathews:
Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, it was a lot to digest and synthesizing it in two key takeaways to start off with one; the costs of climate impacts are going to be borne unequally. We had seen this in Jane’s example of the zip code analysis that was done in Miami and how heat related emergency department visits, as well as hospitalizations, were 4 to 5 times higher in certain areas and neighbourhoods affecting vulnerable communities disproportionately. Equally, Jane had talked about the disproportionate labour productivity impacts on outdoor work, which once again impacts people like construction workers or others for whom that is not a luxury to say the work from home or avoid some of these extreme heat effects. Another interesting point that Jane had raised was that this Inequality is also seen in adaptation solutions and the affordability of some of these solutions. For instance, again, in the context of Miami, utility costs of cooling homes being unaffordable as these extreme heat periods are prolonged or equally family struggling to pay for the costs of repairing air conditioned units or other facilities, taking a step back and slightly closer to home. This was in the context of Miami. But these inequalities are even more stark in developing countries. For instance, in own hometown Delhi, where temperatures can hit approximately 40 degrees Celsius, again, extreme heat is impacting a lot of those who live in societies margins, and particularly those who are employed in predominantly outdoor work.

The second takeaway that really stuck out was the importance of mainstreaming adaptation in climate policy. We saw in the conversations with both Jane and Emily that public and private actors have always been adapting, and it’s very much a question of whether it is categorized or recognized as such. For example, Jane had mentioned how prior to her rule being created as Chief Heat Officer, a lot of the different public sector bodies were operating in silos or somewhat independent of each other. So that was the emergency department, for example, looking at extreme heat response protocols. While the Urban Planning Department would be considering how to manage urban Heat Island effect, her role has helped coordinate some of these adaptation efforts and in doing so, realize the intersectionality of these issues. And what had particularly stuck out was that partnership she described with the health care industry and Private Sector Actors when it comes to addressing multiple risks. Equally, we had heard from Emily on the adaptation technologies and investments in, say, water management or agriculture and food technologies, which may not necessarily be tagged or classified as adaptation solutions as such, but are very much so. And when we look at these opportunities or even the term opportunities as such, I think is something that we know is ultimately an inevitable outcome or what this recent report from the MSCI and Bezos Earth Fund had tagged as an unavoidable opportunity. We knew that climate impacts and risks are increasing over time, and therefore these adaptation technologies are going to be more and more adopted, reflecting on this, this point that Emilie had mentioned very much highlighted the importance of adopting a common language or a taxonomy to help identify some of these adaptation technologies. And similarly, I think conceptualizing business models or use cases to have commercial viable initiatives in place and streamlining some of the demos of these.

Sarah Nelson:
So it seems like, you know, adaptation is clearly necessary and it’s becoming mainstream or there’s a push to become mainstream and it presents a big business opportunity, as you said, this unavoidable opportunity, which is a phrase that I very much like based on your conversations, what are the next steps to accelerating adaptation?

Shilpita Mathews:
One main next step that stood out for me was the importance of partnerships and this multi-sectoral approach that both Jane and Emily are adopting when it comes to building systemic climate resiliance. Emilie talked about an ecosystem of initiatives around climate mitigation and how her organization, Tobin’s Ambition, is creating a similar ecosystem when it comes to adaptation and resilience technologies, to put it in her words, ‘ecosystem, which enables us to do better, cheaper and faster on adaptation as well.’ And this ecosystem as such can only be supported through Investment and capital flows into adaptation solutions. A lot of what Emilie was describing is what came out in Oxford Economics own research, which suggested that the green economy overall will create and opportunity worth approximately 10.3 trillion U.S. dollars up to 2050 by unlocking opportunities in some of these technologies, which we were mentioning earlier, like resilient infrastructure or reforestation and rehabilitation, sustainable agriculture, as well as emerging technologies like water desalinization.

In a similar way I think this partnership approach is crucial when it comes to policy implementation, and we heard some of this from Jane and her description of the Miami Heat action plan. And we see a lot of collective action as numerous stakeholders from university partners to National Weather Service’s and Emergency and health care departments coming together. What I like most is that complementary objective that these institutions can achieve when they come together. See, in other words, climate resilience is not necessarily competing with public resources towards affordability or towards urban planning, but rather is providing a means of channeling resources efficiently. Jane had mentioned that example of increasing tree canopy coverage or cooling stations in outdoor areas. This would make walking more accessible in summer months, also contributing to carbon mitigation through more pedestrian friendly policies while supporting vulnerable communities who are most likely to be employed in outdoor work. And I love this example because it really ties together some of these synergies when it comes to investment. And when we talk about investment and adaptation. That is not to say specifically around these technologies, but actually quantifying that overall economy wide effect.

Sarah Nelson:
Yeah, thank you for that summary. That’s really helpful. And I guess when we talk about whether it’s adaptation and mitigation, some of these investment opportunities are a win win. So for the investors, for policymakers and for the environment. So he has to sort of identifying and tapping into those opportunities going forward. Thank you, showrunner, for such a fascinating set of discussions. I actually think I’m getting the tables turned me today and you are going to ask me a Greenomics gamble, so I’ll hand back over to you to kick that off.

Shilpita Mathews:
Indeed, exciting to be on this side of the table, so to speak. So to begin, I’m going to read out three statements around adaptation solutions, less heard of and definitely not covered in the podcast in no spoilers and hoping that you would be able to point out which one is false, so the statement one. Scientists contend that painting cities with ultra white paint could be an effective solution to climate change. Statement two; The world’s first floating city is due to be launched in Malaysia, off the coast of Penang Island. Statement three Arizona State University’s campus has started planting what they call mechanical trees. And these mechanical trees will complement real trees by capturing carbon. Over to you, Sarah.

Sarah Nelson:
Well, I feel like all of these things are theoretically plausible, because of the just vast array of potential climate solutions that people think of. I think I’ve heard of these mechanical trees. So I think that one is true. I also feel like painting cities white is something that scientists would suggest. So I think I’m going to go with the second one being false.

Shilpita Mathews:
And that is correct. Sarah Although false for an unlikely reason. So while the Malaysian city is well underway, it is in fact false because it’s not the first city to do so. In fact, a floating city is already underway in the Maldives and is set to be completed by 2027 and expected to house approximately 200,000 people. Similarly, Japan’s token city is designed with rising sea levels and mind so it looks like floating cities are way underway.

Sarah Nelson:
Wow. Well, that is interesting. I would love to visit one of those floating cities. I wonder if it like, you know, do you get seasick? I don’t know. Surely not. Surely, though, maybe you get sea legs real quick on that. Why do I thank you so much for that Greenomics gamble. I feel very relieved to have, you know, come through intact on that one. So all that’s left to do is to say thank you to our guests, Jane, Emilie and massive thank you to you. Shilpita for facilitating conversations today.

Shilpita Mathews:
Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah Nelson:
And thank you also to the listeners for tuning in to this episode. Do check out the reports that were discussed in today’s episode, which can be found in the descriptions accompanying the show. Wherever you find your podcasts, please do subscribe on Spotify, SoundCloud or on our website. And feel free to write to us at [email protected].

That’s it for today on Greenomics from Oxford Economics, where we know that money might make the world go round, but sustainability makes it a much nicer place to live. See you next time.

Our Panel
Sarah Nelson

Senior Economist, Economics & Sustainability

+44 (0)203 910 8000

Sarah Nelson

Senior Economist, Economics & Sustainability

London, United Kingdom

Sarah is a Senior Economist in the Economics & Sustainability team at Oxford Economics. She works with clients to understand their environmental impacts and dependencies, and helps them achieve their sustainability goals. She has professional and research experience in the economics of decarbonisation, energy policy and environmental and economic impact assessments.

Prior to joining Oxford Economics, Sarah worked in economic consulting in Sydney and London, where she worked on energy regulation, anti-trust, carbon forecasting and social welfare assessments. She holds Bachelor’ degree in economics and physics from the University of Auckland, and a Masters in Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Sarah completed a PhD in climate economics and policy from the University of Cambridge in 2021.

Shilpita Mathews

Senior Economist, Economics & Sustainability

07443323669

Shilpita Mathews

Senior Economist, Economics & Sustainability

London, United Kingdom

Shilpita joined Oxford Economics’ Economics & Sustainability team, bringing valuable experience from roles at Deloitte, Vivid Economics and McKinsey & Company, with a focus on sustainable finance and climate and nature risk assessment. Her work has spanned public and private sector clients, with a focus on financial institutions.

Shilpita holds a First-Class BA (Hons) in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge and a MSc in Environmental Economics & Climate Change (Hons) from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Jane Gilbert

Arsht-Rock’s Chief Heat Officer in Miami-Dade County, US.

Private: Jane Gilbert

Arsht-Rock’s Chief Heat Officer in Miami-Dade County, US.

Jane Gilbert is Arsht-Rock’s Chief Heat Officer in Miami-Dade County, US. Gilbert works across departments and partners to address the increasing risks to human health, lives and livelihoods associated with extreme heat. She has over 30 years experience in public private partnerships, climate mitigation and adaptation, and urban resilience.

Before joining the County, she served as the City of Miami’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) for four years.  In this role, Gilbert led the climate and urban resilience strategy development and implementation for the City of Miami. She developed and implemented a city-level response to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.

Prior to public service, Gilbert led three nonprofits and managed Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) work for large corporations. She holds a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science from Barnard College and Master’s from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Emilie Mazzacurati

climate tech entrepreneur

Private: Emilie Mazzacurati

climate tech entrepreneur

Emilie is a climate tech entrepreneur and investor with 18 years of experience working at the intersection of climate change and capital markets. She is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Tailwind, an innovation studio focused on accelerating innovation for climate adaptation and resilience solutions. Emilie is also a Board Member of Climate Resilience for All, a gender-focused climate adaptation nonprofit dedicated to the protection of people and livelihoods from extreme heat and all its impacts.

In 2012, Emilie founded Four Twenty Seven, a climate risk analytics firm that pioneered the use of climate data in financial decisions. Four Twenty Seven’s work laid the foundation for large financial institutions to integrate physical risk considerations in investment and lending decisions globally, winning the Risk Market Award for Alternative Data of the Year in 2019. Four Twenty Seven also led groundbreaking work on heat and adaptation with the state of California with the California Heat Assessment Tool (CHAT: cal-heat.org), and with hospitals and local governments across the US, earning First Prize in the ESRI Challenge of Climate Change and Human Health as part of its commitment to the White House 2015 Climate Data Initiative. Four Twenty Seven was acquired by Moody’s Corporation in 2019, and Emilie took a leadership role as Managing Director, Global Head of Climate Solutions to spearhead the integration of climate risk analytics in Moody’s offering. Previously, Emilie was Head of Research at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, where she directed research and modeling on carbon markets and decarbonization.

Emilie has published extensively and is a frequent public speaker on the impacts of climate change in financial markets and on adaptation finance. She is an advisor to the Climate Bonds Initiative Resilience Taxonomy Advisory Group, to the California Fifth Climate Assessment’s Finance Chapter Advisory Group, and to the Global Adaptation and Resilience Investor group (GARI), which she helped co-found in 2016.

Emilie taught at the University of California, Davis Executive MBA on Business & Climate Change from 2013 to 2019. She holds a Master’s of Political Science from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a Master’s of Public Policy from UC Berkeley. She has received multiple awards for her work, including the Berkeley Visionary Award and Top 100 People in Finance.

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