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Expert Voices: Molly Wood, Launch

Photo illustration of Molly Wood with collage of shapes and skies.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Chris Michel

Today we're talking with Molly Wood, managing director of Launch, an early-stage venture firm founded by tech investor Jason Calacanis. She also co-hosts the weekly podcast "This Week in Startups" with Calacanis.

Why she matters: Wood was previously the host and senior editor of "Marketplace Tech," a weekly radio show on NPR. She tells Axios she wanted to take a more active role in the climate tech industry, and Calacanis approached her about leading his firm's climate thesis.

What was this week’s big story, in your view?

  • I wish I didn't have to say that Elon Musk's apparently successful bid for Twitter was the biggest story of the week, but it clearly is for lots of reasons, not least of which is that, in theory, Musk is one of the world's biggest proponents of a clean energy transition, in both transportation and solar.
  • I wonder whether that will be forgotten in his evident courting of right-wing politics and social media users, or if there's a chance the right, which has been hostile to addressing the climate crisis, might start to consider more than just his latest political sympathies, and take to heart his other mission as well.

What do you feel is being under-covered or under-noticed?

  • The other biggest story in the news this week, which needs to get a lot more attention, is the Biden administration's decision to investigate solar manufacturers [in Asia] on suspicion of dodging tariffs, at the behest of Auxin Solar, a tiny solar company that complained to the administration that tariff-dodging was undercutting competition and hurting its business. The decision to investigate has apparently already caused up to a 50 percent drop in planned solar deployments in the U.S.

What are you most closely following?

  • The SEC's proposed rules around climate risk disclosure, and whether the Federal Reserve might eventually, finally, join the rest of the world's major central banks to issue formal rules for banks around climate risk. These two policy and reporting changes would move billions, if not trillions, in investment dollars.

In three words, what one change would you make to accelerate investment in sustainable energy/climate tech?

  • A carbon tax!
    • If we made fossil fuel production, industrial output, transportation and even consumer goods cost what they actually cost when you factor in greenhouse gas emissions, you'd see global economies transform overnight.
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