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Expert Voices: Bee Hui Yeh on climate justice

Alan Neuhauser
Jul 22, 2022
Photo illustration of Bee Hui Yeh with an image of trees and abstract shapes.
Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Bee Hui Yeh

This week we're talking with Bee Hui Yeh, founder of The Power of We, which has worked with everyone from Levi's to HP on leveraging their businesses to achieve social impact and climate justice.

Why she matters: Yeh is an industry veteran, with roles at Chevron, Engie and, most recently, Plan C, where she remains an adviser. Her clients at The Power of We have included Fortune 50s and big players in energy.

What in your view was the big story in clean energy or climate tech investment this week?

Record temperatures around the globe come amid Biden’s executive actions addressing extreme heat and creating offshore wind opportunities.

  • Not for the first time, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) stripped major climate provisions from the reconciliation bill that would have allocated billions of dollars to slash emissions.
  • Implications of the SCOTUS EPA ruling, which severely limits the agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, are becoming clearer, as the court constrains the power of all federal agencies on a host of social issues.

What would you add to the narrative?

These rollbacks and political battles disproportionately harm BIPOC communities on the front lines of climate change.

  • Justice40, which the Biden administration established days within taking office, aims to ensure that federal investments deliver at least 40% of their benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • Continued mobilization from local officials, communities and activists are crucial to delivering on this promise for place-based social spending that involves disadvantaged communities in co-creating climate resilience not only through transforming our energy infrastructure, but also addressing the social impacts of near-term threats like severe weather disasters.

By contrast, what's going under-covered or under-noticed?

Over the past eight years, more than 75% of climate-related venture capital has gone to solutions that address less than 20% of potential emissions reductions.

  • Given the political stalemate, private sector action and investments need to ramp up — and diversify beyond the same relatively mature climate technologies: More than 90% of private investment has gone to EVs, solar, wind, battery storage, biofuels and nuclear energy. 

In three-ish words, what change would you make to clean energy/climate tech investment?

Climate justice now.

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