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Battling Climate Change Will Cost Trillions. Wall Street Is Paying Attention.

Battling Climate Change Will Cost Trillions. Wall Street Is Paying Attention.

A bold vision of retooling the global economy to combat climate change will have to be matched by massive amounts of investment.

The cost of renewable products from wind turbines to electric-vehicle batteries is rapidly falling, consumers are getting more vocal, and voters are pressuring the government. Major investors such as BlackRock (ticker: BLK) are also raising the stakes, putting climate change at the center of their strategies.

Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs chief executive and Treasury secretary, said the tone of his conversations with corporate chiefs has changed recently.

“CEOs see that markets are moving and that there’s going to be a massive change,” Paulson said during a webchat Thursday sponsored by the Economic Club of New York.

He compared the current moment to the days when cellular phone technology was emerging to challenge long-dominant landline giants. “There’s massive change coming, and we’re going to rewire society,” Paulson said. “There’s some real momentum.”

Paulson appeared along with former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Bill Gates to talk about the private sector’s role in making sure there is capital to back climate-change initiatives.

Gates-backed lithium battery maker QuantumScape (QS) recently launched an initial public offering that has drawn praise from Wall Street analysts, though its shares are down 4% this year. The S&P 500, which closed above 4000 for the first time on Thursday, is up 7% this year.

Another Gates-based company, the security firm Evolv, said last month it would go public through a blank-check company merger. Gates said more of his investments could go public through blank check companies “if the capital markets are willing.”

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