The Ad Hoc Gist: Climate Resilience Gets Short Shrift

The Ad Hoc Gist: Climate Resilience Gets Short Shrift

June 2021

Welcome back to the Ad Hoc Gist!

Since our last edition, climate activists won three board seats at oil giant Exxon, Ford released an all-electric F-150 truck that provides home backup power, Tesla stopped selling Powerwalls on their own due to surging demand, and wildfire season has already started in Arizona and California.

In this quarter’s Gist, we focus on climate resilience and whether our pandemic weary cities and states are ready for the impending season of wildfires and hurricanes. The short answer - we’re not. We’ll provide insight on how tech and policy need to converge to make sure we’re ready in  the future. Want more? Listen to Climate Resilient City, a recent pod collaboration between Technopolis and The Interchange where Shayle Kann, Molly Turner and I dive deeper.

In AHG news, we’re hiring for two roles - a Senior Vice President and a Part-Time Communications Manager. I’m also thrilled to announce that my friend and urban mobility expert David Zipper has joined AHG as a senior advisor. Finally, if you want to learn more about why I launched AHG and our philosophy on policy and climate tech, Jason Jacobs of the My Climate Journey (MCJ) podcast interviewed me this week.

Have feedback on the Gist or an idea for our next one? Drop me a line at And if you know someone who might also be interested in this content, please forward this email to them (they can also sign up right here).


June 10, 2021


Climate resilience is not getting the policy or tech attention it demands

Climate resilience is not getting the policy or tech attention it demands

The Biden Administration came into office with ambitious plans to lower emissions and quickly populated its ranks with experts in designing emissions-related policy solutions. However, it has been relatively slower to focus on climate resilience, even as we approach an increasingly severe wildfire and hurricane season.

California is experiencing a major drought (again) and Arizona declared the start of fire season earlier than ever with two fires currently burning in the eastern part of the state. Last summer was a record-breaking hurricane season and experts predict another severe season with as many as 20 named storms.

States and cities are responding unevenly to the climate threat. California is investing billions to manage wildfires, while Oregon has major wildfire legislation in the works. Nevada requires utilities to file Natural Disaster Protection Plans, but other states vulnerable to wildfires have no such requirements. States and cities also need to reform land use policy so we're not building housing in the wildfire urban interface or in flood zones, and have to ensure that we’re investing in ways that support our most vulnerable.

Post-9/11, there was a lot of effort to better coordinate technologically across jurisdictions to fight terrorism. To battle the climate, we also need new technologies that help predict, detect, and manage extreme weather-related threats across jurisdictions. And yet, climate tech investors have largely focused on mitigation.

Below are a few changes that we need to see: 

1. The Biden Administration needs to get bolder and appoint a resiliency czar.

2. States and cities need to accelerate resiliency planning to protect the most vulnerable.

  • Cities and states are playing disaster catch-up. California has required utilities to file Wildfire Management Plans since 2019. The only other state we’ve found that requires utilities to file plans to manage disasters, including wildfires, is Nevada. Expect more states to follow suit, with Oregon, Washington and Illinois launching proceedings on wildfire or extreme weather preparedness.
  • Speaking of catch-up, Texas sought to address its lack of preparedness through this week’s signing of Senate Bills 2 and 3. The bills don’t go far enough and only 17% of Texas voters are confident that the new laws would prevent future outages.
  • Climate change has also introduced major equity challenges in cities. Since 2019, at least 30 U.S. cities have hired specialists or taken other action to address extreme weather impacts. However, recently CDP found that although 93% of cities face significant climate risks, only half have developed adaptation plans.

3. Climate tech investors should up their resilience game.

News from Our Network

From our clients:

Singularity’s CEO Wenbo Shi spoke with Eric Wesoff of Canary Media on how their carbon insights platform can help companies solve the 24/7 matching challenge.

Optimus Ride is one of the first 100 signatories AND the first independent autonomous mobility company to join The Climate Pledge and commit to net-zero carbon by 2040 or sooner.

Dandelion Energy has entered Vermont and President Kathy Hannun was featured in an inspiring TED Talk on why geothermal heating and cooling makes so much sense.

Radiator Labs was selected for the eighth cohort of IN2, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator co-administered by NREL.

OhmConnect launched a four-city competition to reduce peak power demand in California while giving away 1 million free smart thermostats.

Urbint was highlighted in Forbes as a powerful way to use A.I. to promote infrastructure safety.


From our friends and colleagues: 

Jake Levine talks to Axios about his role as the first Chief Climate Officer for the Development Finance Corp, a government VC for developing countries.

Adam Freed from Bloomberg Associates interviews the Mayors of Phoenix, Charlotte and the Deputy Mayor of Paris on building climate resilient cities.

Melanie Nakagawa, Special Assistant to the President for Climate and Energy, talks climate resilience at the Rise conference next week, register here.

Cortex Intel raised a $6 million series A to help decarbonize buildings (congrats Bryan Bennett!).


Climate tech jobs from our network:

Dandelion is hiring a Director of Regulatory Affairs (ping me if interested).

Optimus Ride, the autonomous shuttle company, is hiring a Director of Policy (ping me if interested). is hiring a US Sales Lead for their EV charging management software (ping me if interested).

Breakthrough Energy is hiring for several jobs in partnerships, government affairs et al.

Nowadays, a plant-based nugget startup, is hiring a community engagement manager.

Elemental Exelerator is hiring policy fellows.

Reasons for Hope, Reasons for Despair

Hope: Maryland Governor Hogan signed into law a carve out for geothermal in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that included a 25% low income requirement and labor standards for large projects. It received support from labor, environmental justice groups, and Republicans!

Despair: Some of the fastest growing cities in the US are also experiencing the most extreme weather. Phoenix is averaging 144 triple-digit degree days a year! Check out Stacker’s recently released an analysis of 100 cities where summer is now coming earlier.