Speaking at New York premier of Season 1 of Years of Living Dangerously, April 2014
GameChange Capital LLC
Dr. Daniel R. Abbasi founded GameChange Capital LLC, an advisory firm that advises clients on investments and grants to address climate change, and that has also conceived and launches entrepreneurial platforms on this critical global issue. In February 2020, Dan assumed a full-time role as Managing Director of Douglass Winthrop Advisors, co-managing the firm's Environment Strategy.
In fall 2017, Dan co-founded, with Peter Sweatman, asap.earth, a new platform to evaluate corporate performance on climate change and to identify high priority actions companies can take to improve. The performance metrics are intended to be made available to developers to incorporate into new and existing consumer-facing apps, and to asset managers for use in guiding climate-focused investing and shareholder engagement. ASAP.earth is expected to launch its own flagship app in Q3 2020, offering individuals a novel and gamified user experience for engaging companies more effectively on climate change as customers, shareholders and employees. The project was been funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation and leading social entrepreneurs, and incubated at Conservation International, where Dan also served as a Senior Fellow from 2018 to 2020, focused on integrating natural climate impacts into asap.earth's performance assessments and exploring new ways to drive capital to conservation finance in relation to corporate supply chains.
GameChange Capital was established in August 2011 with the visionary backing of Sir Chris Hohn and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and maintains an investment mandate and partnership with the CIFF endowment to invest in and scalable and profitable solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using natural resources more efficiently.
Dan led GameChange Capital's research into supply chains to find and address the fundamental limiting factors inhibiting efficiency gains and emissions reduction in various industrial sectors. An example was the firm's founding investment in Flowcastings GmbH, a manufacturing innovator producing more fuel-efficient airfoil components for both aviation engines and gas turbines for electricity generation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions facing increasingly stringent global regulation. Dan later stepped in as interim Flowcastings CEO for over two years, during which he led Flowcastings’ acquisition of large OEM customers and oversaw initial product delivery; secured a Series B venture financing round; and hired a new CEO and management team.
Previously Dan was a member of the original team at the pioneering low-carbon investment firm, MissionPoint Capital Partners, where he helped to establish the firm's investment thesis and raise its first fund in 2006. Dan co-led investment research and origination, performed due diligence on transactions, and was active in post-close value-add at the firm’s portfolio companies. MissionPoint's portfolio included companies specializing in solar manufacturing, upstream solar and LED materials innovation, wind O&M services, geothermal development, smart grid devices and networks, environmental credit trading and energy efficiency finance.
He also oversaw MissionPoint’s public policy engagement, during which he helped portfolio companies secure loan guarantees, private IRS letters and other favorable outcomes, testified to Congressional caucuses and committees, including the House Ways & Means Committee and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (Abbasi testimony), to promote a low-carbon policy framework, and also advised the White House, Department of Energy, and both major Congressional energy committees on the clean energy provisions of the 2009 stimulus package and multiple climate/energy bills, including tax incentive and loan guarantee rules.
Dan’s work as an investor and business operator helping to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy is informed by his experience in other business sectors such as media and software, and by his professional network in government, academia and and the non-profit world on the same themes of carbon and resource efficiency.
He held strategy, M&A and operating roles for subsidiaries of Time Warner and the Washington Post Company, and was Executive VP of sales for a venture-backed software start-up, Etrana, that developed both a consumer-facing group purchasing platform and a B2B procurement automation solution for franchises and corporate logistics units.
Dan won an Emmy Award as one of the Executive Producers of Season 1 of Years of Living Dangerously, a nine-part weekly TV series on climate change whose first season aired in 2014 on Showtime and globally. He co-raised production funding, negotiated key agreements including domestic and international distribution and corporate sponsorship deals, and advised on story content. Dan has remained on the board for subsequent seasons, including Season 2 which aired globally in the fall of 2016 on National Geographic.
Dan was appointed to the governing body of the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) and served on it for four years, during which the NCA team developed a landmark report on the impacts of climate change on the U.S., and potential mitigation options, that was issued in 2014. Abbasi was, in the mid-1990’s, an appointee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where his nearly four year stint included work with the White House to produce the first U.S. National Action Plan on Climate Change, and as co-lead of the inter-agency strategy team for the U.S. Environmental Technology Initiative. He advised the EPA Administrator and Assistant Administrators on a range of regulatory affairs across the air, water and climate divisions, and represented EPA on an inter-agency trade group chaired by the Secretary of Commerce. Dan maintains strong relationships in government, including at the national lab programs focused on clean energy.
Dan was Associate Dean at the Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he authored the book Americans and Climate Change: Closing the Gap Between Science and Action (PDF download) and incubated initiatives such as ClimateCentral, today an influential source of independent information on climate change, and the online magazine Environment360.
In the early 1990’s, Dan was a financial affairs correspondent for the New York Times Foundation-supported newspaper The Earth Times, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Geneva and New York, and he also served as a corporate environmental cost analyst for the World Resources Institute, a DC-based think-tank.
Dan continues to write about the transition to a low-carbon economy, including columns in Institutional Investor - examples include: The Paradox of the Fossil Fuel Movement and How Activists Should Engage Fossil Fuel Companies.
Dan sustains an extensive network in the non-profit/foundation climate change community, including current service on the board of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), which designs and helps execute low-carbon mobility infrastructure such as bus rapid transit (BRT) around the world; as a senior advisor to the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation’s climate program, and previously as an advisory board member of Doris Duke Foundation’s $100m climate program.
In the late 1980’s, Dan was a founding Associate Director at the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation based at Stanford’s Law School, and he has served as a mediator on a wide range of community disputes. He also worked at Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, where he specialized in U.S.-Soviet arms control; and he studied Russian language and politics in the Soviet Union and interned at the State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs.
Dan earned a B.A. from Harvard College, magna cum laude; an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University; and an MBA from Harvard Business School.