Lisa P. Jackson, Tom Steyer and Justin Worland speak onstage at the 2023 TIME100 Summit at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2023 in New York City.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME

When billionaire investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer thinks about the climate crisis from an investing perspective, he sees opportunity.

“You have a gigantic tailwind of something that is going to pervade virtually every part of the economy,” said Steyer, speaking at the TIME100 Summit in New York City on April 25. “That means you have an opportunity if you’re just a straight up financial investor: to outperform.”

While climate change is typically framed as a crisis of conscience, Steyer argued it can also serve the bottom line. Steyer spoke on a panel alongside Lisa P. Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives and a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator during the Obama Administration. The pair made the case that Apple and other companies are showing that business not only has a crucial role to address the climate crisis, but that pursuing sustainable practices can make business sense.

Read more: Lisa P. Jackson’s Decade-Long Push to Turn Apple Green

Steyer said he’s putting this strategy into practice at his own firm, Galvanize Investment Solutions. The company draws on the expertise of a range of disciplines. For instance, for the firm’s research into real estate investment, itemploys not only real estate experts and policy wonks, but also scientists and technologists. And earlier this month, the firm announced that it will acquire residential properties and retrofit them, with an aim of reducing the portfolio’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. The ultimate goal, Steyer said, “is to decarbonize buildings, and in so, raise their net operating income and their valuations, so that we can prove that in fact, decarbonizing makes you richer.”

“We like to say we’re bringing the power of capitalism to the planet,” he said.

At Apple, said Jackson, the company has pursued sustainability, including by becoming carbon neutral, in part because as a business, it is its mission to remain ahead of the curve and pursue innovation. At the same time, she said, Apple has learned that such policies can be profitable, especially as clean energy has become cheaper. To capitalize on this and do good for the environment, Apple launched the investment initiative the Restore Fund focused on carbon removal, which has paid dividends. “I always tell people, the CFO does not run when he sees me coming, because you can make money investing in clean energy, you can make money investing in nature-based carbon removal,” said Jackson.

To defeat the climate crisis, said Steyer, asking the world to act morally isn’t enough. Instead, businesses must act in their own best interests—and in the interests of their consumers .“The way that we’re going to win this climate crisis is in the marketplace,” said Steyer. “We are going to win because we’re going to have better, faster, cheaper, cleaner products.”

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