> Tom Rand (BASc '91)
>  Managing Partner, ArcTern Ventures

“Just use what works and get on with it.”

When it comes to the complex issue of climate risk, Tom Rand (BASc '91) likes to keep things simple.

The entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author is urging industry leaders to take a pragmatic approach — but not in the traditional sense.

For Rand, slow and steady no longer wins the race.

"Pragmatism, from a climate risk perspective, means act fast, have deep interventions and move quickly,” Rand says. “The time for incremental action is over. 20-years ago, that was a fine position to have, but it's 2020. We don't have that luxury anymore.”

Rand, who will be keynote speaker at the University's upcoming Waterloo Innovation Summit, has transformed the conversation on climate change from a political to an economic one, where climate capitalism — the act of reshaping the economy in ways relevant to the degree of climate risk —  takes centre stage.

“There’s a necessity of deep rewiring of our economic system, so not nibbling around the edges, but really asking the question: ‘What kinds of interventions in a market-based economy are required to really minimize or reduce climate risk, independent of your political position?"

It starts with talk

Moving across the aisle means industry leaders must be open to publicly discussing climate risk in real-talk, dismantling false information and addressing it head-on.

“I think it’s really important for business leaders to stand up and say: ‘I may not have all the answers, but I acknowledge this threat is real and I will work my butt off to ensure I’m part of that solution,’” Rand says. “If business leaders can’t do that, they’re on the wrong side of history.”

But to have this climate narrative stick, Rand continues, industries must be able to articulate the self-interested benefits that consumers and governments could expect from having a horse in the race against climate change. 

“That’s a way to get people to open up to the problem because they visualize a solution, they see themselves benefitting from that solution,” Rand says.

Case for climate capitalism

“The Case for Climate Capitalism – Economic Solutions for a Planet in Crisis” is Rand’s third book on climate issues.

“And so, if we proactively talk about our role in that future and we accelerate that future, we speak to our economic self-interest and we mitigate climate risk at the same time.”

We’ve done it before, we can do it again

Like the technological revolutions that spurred mechanizations in agriculture or catapulted the digitization of communications, the world is no stranger to economic shifts inspired by innovation. Rand suggests that it should be no different for climate capitalism.
“I would make the point that 20 years ago solar was expensive, wind was expensive, and it looked like a big price-tag. These are now the lowest cost forms of new energy in the world,” Rand says. “There is a short-term cost, you’re building out new clean infrastructure, but the nature of that infrastructure is that once it’s up and running, the electrons are free. So, it’s no cost — it’s an investment.”
But who should foot the bill of this investment? Rand has his focus on the private sector.  
“The public sector has backstopped the private sector numerous times, during COVID, 2008 and other points in history — they owe us something collectively,” Rand says. “And I think that something should be concerted action on climate.” 

Waterloo Innovation Summit: Green Innovation

To hear Tom Rand speak, register for the University’s next Waterloo Innovation Summit scheduled for November 30, where industry leaders will explore how green innovation and sustainable enterprises can drive economic growth while ensuring our planet’s future.