M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 215

Advancing equity in climate investments with catalytic capital

Andrea Boza Zanatta

2023 Policy Analysis Exercise Prepared for Prime Coalition

Executive Summary

As Prime Coalition nears a decade of investment activity, it is a critical moment in time for the organization to reflect on its unique position in the catalytic capital climate investing space, assess its impact to date and re-commit to a bold ambition to contribute to a sustainable and inclusive future.

Thoughtful catalytic capital deployment will be key in mitigating emissions and facilitating adaptation to climate change. However, it also has a critical role to play in addressing the disparate burdens caused by climate change on vulnerable communities and considering opportunities to reduce social disparities. At a unique moment in time in which climate action is more critical than ever and where an increasing number of players are allocating funds to support the climate transition, catalytic capital funds deploying resources toward climate solutions have an opportunity to wrestle with issues of climate justice and equity more comprehensively as they implement their impact mandate.

For Prime Coalition, an optimal strategy balances people and planet and goes beyond solely considering GHG emissions reductions to incorporate equity considerations. Only with this dual focus and mandate will the transition toward a sustainable future bring about more inclusive and just societies. This research analysis puts forth four key interventions that Prime Coalition can undertake to better embed an equity lens in its catalytic capital deployment process. These are:

1. Update Prime Coalition’s Mission to fully commit to both people and planet.

2. Reimagine the diligence process and expand evaluation considerations.

3. Adopt a governance framework for portfolio companies.

4. Continue Prime Coalition’s contribution to impact measurement to advance the field.

The recommendations made in this report are the outcome of the following analyses. First, the report offers an examination of the catalytic capital climate investing space in the United States and seeks to understand its intersection with and approach to equity. It includes an examination of trends and common misconceptions that emerge as both barriers and opportunities to drive progress. Following, the report then provides an examination and assessment of how to think about advancing equity through catalytic capital investments, introducing an “equity in” and “equity out” framework and examining potential areas of intervention along the different stages within the investment process. Lastly, the report then explores a set of initiatives across three levels of intervention, mainly, the company level, the ecosystem level and the regulatory level, analyzes the potential interventions against a set of criteria and makes a set of recommendations for Prime Coalition to adopt moving forward.

Overall, this report hopes to examine a rapidly emerging and critical field within climate investing for catalytic capital and provide a tactical set of recommendations to ensure that capital allocation decisions in this space can contribute to building a more inclusive and sustainable society, limit the potential for harm to systematically marginalized communities and address past inequities.

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