Carbon credit company Aspiration, which counts Microsoft affiliates and Oaktree Capital Management among its backers, will set up new offices in Abu Dhabi Global Market, it was announced today.

The new office for the California-based company was announced at Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum (ADSFF), with MENA President Vinoda Basnayaka saying the decision was tied to the hosting of the United Nations climate summit COP 28 later this year.

“The types of climate solutions we provide, for enterprises and consumers, are a perfect fit,” Basnayaka said.

Aspiration raised $315 million in December 2021 and has Hollywood star backers including Robert Downey Junior and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Basnayaka told the conference that as a former lawyer, he would like to see the implementation of regulation when it comes to sustainability and tackling climate change. 

“International law generally, and a lot of the regulatory framework around sustainability, has no authority, other than a diplomatic black eye,” he said.

Regulatory frameworks to ensure sustainability need to be built, and be built with implementation, he said.

Start from scratch

The conference also heard from Wa’el Almazeedi, CEO of hydrogen accelerator Avance Labs, who said a new structure of project financing is needed to tackle climate change, upending old systems and getting rid of entrenched players, as the energy transition is bringing in a new paradigm, meaning no one can predict where the industry is headed.

“We owe it to the Z generation and people like Greta Thunberg that we start from scratch. We need to fix what our generation has caused for this new generation that’s coming in.”

Project financing for the energy transition needs to be upended as the principles were established in the 1990s when the first independent power project was financed in Pakistan, he said.

“Believe it or not, no substantial innovations were introduced to project financing in the past 40 years.

“Commercial banks, multilateral and bilateral development institutions dominate the global project finance landscape, despite the fact that financing capacity represent a small amount of the trillions of dollars required for infrastructure and sustainable development requirements around the world. The investment gap is huge.”

His company is working on a new structure which will both speed up the process and give investment access to energy consumers, he said.

“Granting them an opportunity to have a seat on the table is part of the success of the energy transition,” he added.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)