Chante Harris, ClimateTech Strategist, Talks Climate Change
February 1, 2023
Chante Harris has spent her career scaling nationwide campaigns, technologies, and ideas for the Obama Administration, Fortune 500 companies, and startups championing the energy transition. Her achievements are numerous and she's at a critical time where her work and voice are contributing new creative ways of advancing innovation in finance to meet the needs and fill the gaps for the climate innovations who need them most.

Can you tell us about what you do?

I have spent my career at the intersection of climate, cities, technology and policy. Starting out in the Obama Administration launching national issue-based and political campaigns with The White House, think tanks, public-private partnerships and elected officials. I always mention this because it speaks to my very unconventional path into tech and more specifically, climatetech. It has allowed me to bring a multidisciplinary approach to the work I do now, funding and accelerating climate technologies.

I recently started a very neat role as a climatetech strategist consultant advancing research focused on new deployment and financial models propelling climate technologies and the necessary early infrastructure required to see them succeed.

Can you tell us about why you do your work?

I have always believed that innovation is not just IP, new technology or science. While traditional tech spaces I have overindexed on this as the sole definition, in my opinion, true innovation is a novel approach or method that advances an entire industry or sector. In the case of climate we see this everywhere we turn whether it’s the future of what we wear, what we eat, how we move and what we build.

What can executive leaders learn from the work you are doing at the intersection of climate and technology?

We are at a critical moment where market drivers, technology advancements and policy have aligned in the U.S. and across the globe. Those who lead on tackling Scope 1, 2 and 3 effectively in the years and decades to come have the opportunity to unlock business opportunities across every area of their operations from supply chain and logistics to R&D and carbon emissions that will generate revenue and impact the planet at a time when taking action is dire. The best part about all of this is that executive leaders do not have to do it alone. From the tax incentive that the Inflation Reduction Act has unlocked to the founders building technologies that integrate into global companies’ operations, there are a number of experienced professionals dedicated to building the roadmaps and solutions needed for business leaders to be successful.


How can other women get involved and become leaders in this field? And, can they do it without leaving their jobs?

A lot of my discourse over the past couple of years has been focused on redefining the climate tech operator. Historically operators have been identified as the product lead, engineer, or head of marketing. While all of these roles are key to climate innovation teams there are also a lof of other roles that people don’t think about and what I’ve coined as redefining the climate operator. These roles include procurement specialist, zoning experts, permit expediters, creatives, policy wonks, project financiers, storytellers, and so many more. This matters because while yes there is a need to support the workforce in learning about the space and there are groups and courses focused on this like Work On ClimateTerra.doClimatebase and My Climate Journey, majority of the talent the industry needs has transferable skills and expertise that just need to be applied in our field. This of course includes women! 

What is your one big idea of the moment that you’d love people to adopt?

My one big idea is the one I’m working on right now that I mentioned earlier in this interview but to expand more and be a bit more concrete.

The latter is important because it is one of the most challenging valley of deaths that founders building climatetech solutions have to navigate in large part due to the fact that the financing world has yet to catch up to the moment we’re in. 

What does this mean for executives? As billions of dollars come online in the next couple of years with a goal to fund our way to net zero, it is important that we don’t miss the moment to advance first-of-its-kind funding vehicles and deployment models for technologies and thus all of our success. Data can inform the identification and use of existing infrastructure owned by the public and private sectors, the costs of development and ways that corporates and financiers can offset these costs while taking advantage of their upside.

What are you paying attention to this week, this month and this year. 

All things IRA, this a huge moment for the massive scale, adoption and deployment solutions. Whether you are interstesed from a b2b or direct to consumer angle, the Inflation Reduction Act has something to offer everyone and every company. As the federal, state and local government gear up to deploy that capital make sure that you’re paying close attention to where your existing operations are and how to leverage the funding to cut costs while you simultaneous advance your sustainability goals.

What women do you admire around you who are changing how you think and work?

So many but to name a few: Amy Duffor at Azolla Ventures, Katie Hoffman and Olivia Dell at Regeneration VC, Nneka at Aligned Climate Capital who is also the founder of GreenTech Noir, Christina Wheatley at Generation and Mia Diawara. 

Founders that inspire me in climatetech include Lacey Reddix, founder of Olokun Minerals, Tinia Pina, Founder & CEO of Re-Nuble, Wanona Satcher, CEO of Mākhers Studio, and Melissa Zhang, Co-founder of Rockfix. They are all women I’ve had the opportunity to support on their entrepreneurial journeys and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to keep cheering them on. 

What is one product you cannot live without or would highly recommend?

My Stojo reusable water bottle. I know it’s on brand but also so convenient. The best part about is that it collapses and if you’re consistently on the go and changing bags frequently it’s nice to have a water bottle that can fit in almost any bag. 

What is one word or idea you are focused on in the year ahead?

Creation, I’m aiming to spend a huge chunk of this year tapping into the right side of the brain. I think my left side has enough!

I started off 2023 in a painting class and am excited to see how I express myself with drawings, imagings, sculptures, pottery and whatever else I get my hands on outside of the science, technology and finance that I’m so used to. If anyone has any recommendations please let me know. 


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