Why (and how) I’m dedicating my career to climate change

Susan Su
4 min readJul 21, 2021
Architect Vincent Callebaut’s vision for a Pollinator Park that preserves ecological corridors, promotes agriculture biodiversity, and introduces the concept of “fertile urbanization” to reverse the extinction crisis of pollinating animals and their dependents, the world’s flowering plants (and *their* dependents, us).

tl;dr — I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Toba Capital as their newest partner focused on climate innovation via direct investments and fund investments.

When the wildfire smoke reached us in the Evergreen State, I knew I had to jump in or else drown in the climate anxiety that I’d been trying to suppress for the better part of my adult life.

It was then that I decided to “do” something about the climate crisis beyond devoting a lot of mental worry-space to it and trying to be the most climate-conscious consumer I could.

I quickly discovered a library of podcasts, books, and communities that helped me to find my way, along with friends old and new who’d been in the fight for decades and whose instant inclusion in their world gave me a huge boost, like a hug on a bad day. There’s a place for you here, they all seemed to say.

A few months in, I had the opportunity to build and lead a cohort-based course on Climate Change for VCs in partnership with the folks at Terra, whose mission is to activate 100 million people to work on climate change. We were all impressed at the diversity and depth of interest in climate investing that surfaced, and it was a fun and cathartic learning experience for all of us.

At one point during the first cohort after our session with a well-known climate scientist focused on sea level rise, one of the course participants stayed on Zoom with me, his expression a combination of devastation and bewilderment. As a well-read and intellectually curious investor type, he was familiar with many of the headline facts about climate change. But this was the first time he had internalized what it really meant for his family, his community and his country. He was experiencing an emotional reckoning so powerful that it realigned his life and focus.

Many of us are that same well-read, intellectually curious person who’s familiar with the headline facts about climate change, but who haven’t yet let ourselves experience the full emotional charge of what it means for our world. When you do, it becomes impossible to look away.

The really good news is that working on the climate crisis today is simultaneously heartbreaking, awe-inspiring, intellectually thrilling and totally inclusive of every flavor and form of talent that humanity can come up with.

No longer the realm of scientists and policymakers, you can choose your own climate action adventure and apply a climate lens to anything you want to do:

  • Isodope is a nuclear energy influencer dedicated to changing the conversation around nuclear
  • Ain’t Your Mama’s Heat Wave is a stand-up show about climate from four Black comedians bridging climate reality and social justice
  • ClimemeChange is a climate meme-fluencer with killer sob-cry meme game
  • Kim Stanley Robinson is an award-winning science fiction writer whose 2020 novel feels like a psychic reading for our future — and increasingly for our present
  • Work on Climate is a community for (mostly tech) people to find jobs or join projects to address the climate crisis
  • Margaret Klein Salamon is a climate psychologist focused on helping people navigate the emotional turmoil stirred up by the climate emergency
  • Daniel Humm is a chef who’s famously taking his 3 Michelin star restaurant fully meatless

On my end, I’ve been really lucky to find a way to apply what I know and love — meeting and supporting entrepreneurs, building friendships with investors, and sharing my love of innovation with everyone — to the biggest, most fascinating and most gnarly problem of our lifetimes.

I’m grateful to the team at Toba for giving me this opportunity and for joining me as we back the most ambitious and thoughtful teams working to decarbonize every dollar in our economy.

If you’re building climate innovation, or know someone great who is, let’s chat! Regardless of specific timing, I’d love to talk market positioning, fundraising strategy, enterprise go-to-market and all other manner of other ‘shop’ any time.

If you are a world class operator wondering what you can do to apply your considerable talents to the most meaningful problem we’ve ever faced, then ping me and I may have some ideas!

Finally, if you are an investor with a portfolio I should know about, please reach out and let’s be friends :)

Climate is the operating system for everything around us, and there will be a million and one ways to reinvent how the system functions so that it truly works for all of us — people of today, people of the future, and the many non-people whose invisible work makes our world possible. It won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be meaningful, and with all of us, it might just work. Let’s jump in!



Susan Su

Investing in a climate-positive future at Toba Capital. Ex Sound Ventures, Stripe, Reforge, 500 Startups.