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Veteran life sciences firm RA Capital spins up ‘planetary health’ team to ride climate tech wave

Something that often gets lost in discussions about climate change is the massive health benefits the world would realize by ceasing to burn fossil fuels.

Pollution from coal, oil and natural gas isn’t just responsible for respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer, but also strokes, heart disease and even premature death. Fine particulate matter produced by combustion has been linked to greater risk of kidney disease, diabetes, preterm birth, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

What’s more, a warming planet poses numerous health risks on its own. Extreme weather events like heat waves increase the risk of death among older adults and infants. Infectious diseases like malaria, dengue, Vibrio and numerous tick-borne illnesses thrive in warmer conditions, spreading those threats farther toward the poles than ever before.

Which is how I found myself, a climate tech reporter, talking with two partners from RA Capital, an investment firm better known for its positions in life sciences and healthcare.

A few years ago, the firm realized that even if it could be fantastically successful, backing a myriad of companies that could produce successful therapies that cure various cancers and other diseases, people would still be dying by the millions from the effects of pollution, said Kyle Teamey, managing partner of planetary health at RA Capital. If the firm didn’t also address the root cause of many diseases, it would effectively be failing at its mission to make people healthier.

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