Tag: Additional Articles

Proof of Peak Natural Gas but Climate Innovation Funding is Still Challenging

By Danny Kennedy, New Energy Nexus

Natural Gas is on the move — edging down year-on-year — while renewable energy takes center stage around the world once and for all.

Politicians blowing the winds of trade wars are not the only impediment to climate solutions. Times are tough out there for entrepreneurs not selling something that pays back in two years or less. 

Whether inflation is still going to go up or not, the price of debt has already led to an increase in the levelized cost of wind and solar in 2022. This was the first time in a long time that financial and investment company Lazard has recorded this increase in renewable energy cost against the macro trend of declining electricity prices.

And for early stage startups who are yet to ship a product or build a project, the prospects of venture capital are a long way from their highs in 2021. While the “climate tech VC” scene dipped less — just -3%, compared to the broader venture capital market, which plummeted a shocking -53% in 2022 — it is still hard to get funded.

Industries that remained stable in 2022--Nexus New Energy

That is why it’s good to remind ourselves of the game changing project we’re undertaking and that it won’t be smooth sailing displacing something as big as the fossil fool industrial complex! We’re making history by shifting electricity to clean sources and then electrifying everything. Historically speaking, such profound change is hard won.

Ember in the ashes of 2022

The apparently Sisyphean task of meeting new electricity demand with clean generation may actually happen this year or next. According to energy thinktank Ember‘s excellent electricity review of 2022, an incredible 80% of all new demand growth for electricity (694TWh) was met by new wind and solar generation (557TWh). 

The juice we use now has the lowest carbon emissions ever

We’re using a record amount of electricity here on Earth but while emissions are up, the energy mix is changing significantly. Indeed, wind and solar were up 19% year-on-year from 2021, whereas coal was up just 1.1% and natural gas use actually plateaued (thanks, Putin). As a result, the juice we use now has the lowest carbon emissions ever — 436 gCO2 per kilowatt-hour. In other words, we are up in volume but a whole lot cleaner per unit. 

Right now, we are pushing the energy transition boulder to the very top and soon will let it roll on down the other side! If renewables deployment continues at the rates of recent years, clean power growth will exceed electricity demand growth in 2023. This is a big turning point that we should celebrate.

Ember - wind and solar hit 12% of global power and the era of fossil decline is about to begin

Goodbye Natural Gas?

But our work is far from done. And relying on gravity to do the work on the downslope may not be fast enough especially with the countervailing forces from vested interest. You may have noticed me writing that “gas plateaued” in 2022 by which I mean to say it fell so marginally as to make it look flat (-0.2% in 2022).

That is a global view — and in some markets gas generation actually hit highs. So far this century in the U.S. during Republican and Democratic administrations, we’ve been boosting gas exploration and production. This bipartisan boondoggle even had the support of misguided environmentalists thinking gas is a bridge to somewhere. And world number one LNG exporter Australia has seen similar gas increases, largely for export, despite promises at election time to voters demanding climate action.

U.S. President Biden recently approved the Alaska LNG project, which relies on growing gas markets in Asia and exporting even more of this climate-changing product. The carbon footprint of this project, according to the DOE, is equal to one-quarter of the carbon pollution savings from the EPA’s new tailpipe emission standards. Not surprisingly, Papa Joe’s EPA told us their good news the evening before he dropped the bad news on Alaska. 

Similarly, Australia has just seen the approval of a highly controversial $3.8 billion gas fracking project in the Northern Territory, the Beetaloo Basin, that could see as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of gas extracted. Key developer Santos and American investors are overjoyed; climate activists, traditional owners and farmers are not. 

Subsidizing Fossil Foolery

Such support for new projects means that gas will hang around in the global power mix longer than it should. Certainly, in America, gas is a growing dependency we cannot afford. There are some valiant efforts to kick the habit, with companies like PlusPower adding serious storage to the grid. But we cannot sustain our gas addiction, neither economically, as prices continue to go up, nor for the climate. Now that it has hit the “no growth” zone globally, we must continue to pressure gas supply — and demand — to decline.

Yet even though the U.S. has committed to subsidize this one last binge of fossil foolery, since fracking became its innovation darling, the fate of gas is still clear. It’s a dead man walking. I wrote in Medium that 2017 was the “beginning of the end for gas” due to changes at institutions like GE and the California PUC. With the data in from Ember, we can see that end is nigh at the aggregate level. There will be skirmishes and setbacks, like the ruling from a Federal Court overturning Berkeley’s gas ban in new buildings. So, it’s not yet “bye bye” but if we stay the course we’ll be able to say that soon. With New York passing a ban on natural gas in new buildings in May, the momentum to bid gas farewell is well and truly underway. I’ll take Manhattan, you can have Berkeley.

Startups of the Month 

Entrepreneurs all over the world are expending remarkable ingenuity and grit into gas replacement efforts. The work of European companies to replace gas boilers and heating systems with heat pumps since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now well known. But did you know about the induction stoves, industrial heat and coffee roasting solutions startups are pioneering too!? Here are just a few goodies to check out:

The clever Channing Street Copper is putting batteries under home ovens for energy storage equipped cooking. It makes the product more useful for demand response and more responsive for wok cooking. And inventiveness like this, mainly for high-end customers, may make such solutions more accessible and ubiquitous in years to come. 

Similarly, Antora, a groundbreaking company that I mentioned last year when Bill Gates backed it, is changing the way heat is brought into factories. Check out our Antora video (I am proud to say that New Energy Nexus backed this company early on). Finally, I love this startup —  Bellweather Coffee — displacing propane often used to roast the beans for your cafe latte and innovating the entire supply chain and independent cafe store owners’ business.

Shine on!


Article by Danny Kennedy, the CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of New Energy Nexus, a clean energy startup incubator with chapters in the U.S., China, Southeast Asia, India and Uganda. He is also Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund overseeing the $25m CalSEED.fund for early-stage innovation companies and the $12m CalTestBed initiative. Kennedy co-founded Sungevity in 2007, the company that created remote solar design, and incubator fund Powerhouse in Oakland, CA. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy – and Our Planet – from Dirty Energy in 2012. Prior to being an entrepreneur and investor, he worked at Greenpeace on climate & energy.

Climate and Capital Media Featured News

Article reprinted with Permission as part of GreenMoney’s ongoing collaboration with Climate and Capital Media




Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Sunwealth 2023 ESG Fixed Income Fund of the Year

Sunwealth 2023 ESG Fixed-income Fund of the YearRecently, Environmental Finance named Sunwealth’s Solar Impact Fund their 2023 ESG Fixed-Income Fund of the Year. This recognition is part of Environmental Finance’s 2023 Sustainable Investment Awards – a global initiative that seeks to recognize fund and asset managers focused on ESG and sustainability. 

“These awards help recognize your leadership in this complex, quickly-changing area,” said Michael Hurley, deputy editor of Environmental Finance.

This recognition comes on the heels of Sunwealth’s Solar Impact Fund’s second consecutive year being awarded Environmental Finance’s Bond Award for Innovation and being named their 2022 Environmental Fund of the Year. 

“Sunwealth is proud to be named Environmental Finance’s ESG Fixed-Income Fund of the Year. As investors increasingly prioritize ESG strategies, Sunwealth continues to deliver measurable environmental, social, and economic benefits to diverse communities without sacrificing financial returns to investors,” said Omar Blayton, Chief Financial Officer at Sunwealth. “We look forward to scaling our impact in the years to come.”

For over eight years, Sunwealth has delivered strong, stable fixed-income returns with no defaults to investors seeking to align their dollars and portfolios to drive positive environmental, economic, and social outcomes. Our community-based approach to deploying capital enables us to go beyond ESG, creating long-term access to affordable clean energy and bolstering local resilience. 

More from Environment Finance on the award: 

ESG fixed income fund of the year, America: Sunwealth Solar Impact Fund

Sunwealth says its Solar Impact Fund has deployed more than $135 million in ‘community-scale’, or smaller, solar projects to tackle climate change and inequality through the provision of more jobs in underserved communities in the US.

The fund bundles a variety of solar projects into a single investment vehicle, which enables non-profits, municipalities, affordable housing, houses of worship, small businesses and low-income households to access solar energy and savings “at no cost, while providing job creation and revenues for small businesses”, including local solar developers and installers.

Each pool contains projects of various sizes, ranging from 25kW to 5MW.

Investors can gain exposure to these bundled projects through bond issues, over three-year or seven-year terms, or tax equity products.

Massachusetts-based Sunwealth says that, by minimizing transaction costs and bundling a variety of solar projects into a single investment vehicle, its fund enables investors to achieve an attractive return on their investment with greater social impact.

One such project it financed was a 76kW rooftop solar project for the Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) – a private nonprofit in Pembroke, North Carolina, founded by Native American tribal leaders to bring social, educational, and economic services to members of the Lumbee tribe. Sunwealth developed the project with North Carolina-based Eagle Solar and Light.

Sunwealth estimated the project would provide about $115,000 in lifetime energy savings to LRDA to reinvest in their community.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Ceres Releases Annual Climate Risk Scorecard

Assessing U.S. Financial Regulators Action on Climate Financial Risk

A new scorecard released in July 2023 by the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets shows how 10 federal financial regulators have implemented key actions to address the financial risks of climate change, growing the total number of actions to more than 100 since July 2022. However, U.S. regulators have much more work to do to address these risks with the same level of ambition and urgency as their global counterparts.

The 2023 Climate Risk Scorecard: Assessing U.S. Financial Regulator Action on Climate Financial Risk found most of the assessed regulators have made meaningful strides in producing research and data on climate risk and incorporating climate risk into their supervision of regulated entities, however urgent action is required to improve climate-related disclosures, increase transparency in climate-related risk management practices, including climate risks within regulatory frameworks, implement climate-related scenario analysis, and assess climate risks on financially vulnerable communities.

Among those assessed include the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“Climate-related financial risks have placed capital markets and financial institutions in an unparalleled state of vulnerability,” said Steven M. Rothstein, Managing Director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets at Ceres. “The interconnectedness of the U.S. financial system means risk and climate events can trigger cascading crises that undermine the integrity of the entire economy. The sector needs to better integrate climate risk into its supervision of financial entities and put stronger practices in place to assess the consequences of the climate-related scenarios that will arise unless we make systemic changes.”

Ceres Sustainable Capital Markets Accelerator--2023 Climate Risk Scorecard

The analysis uncovered several key findings including:

  • More than 100 regulatory actions since July 2022 to address climate-related financial risks, representing a notable shift beyond foundational actions toward implementing climate-related risk management practices in step with global counterparts.
  • Nine regulators have publicly affirmed climate as a systemic risk to the financial system, sending a strong signal to the market and public that federal regulators understand that climate risk may adversely impact their regulated entities as well as the broader economy. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board stands alone in not making this affirmation yet.
  • Six of 10 regulators have robust internal climate-related capacities, but this year has seen additional progress from those still developing their staffing and technical expertise.
  • All but two regulators improved transparency regarding their actions to measure and manage climate-related financial risks at their regulated entities.
  • Minimal public progress was made among regulators with authority that encompasses consideration of financially vulnerable communities.

To better document progress and reflect ongoing regulator commitments and areas of need, Ceres expanded the assessment categories from six to nine, drawing from the 35 recommendations within the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s Report on Climate-Related Financial Risk. The full methodology can be found here.  

Regulators were assessed on progress achieved from July 2022 through June 2023 across key categories, using previous years as a baseline, measuring whether each regulator has: 

  • Publicly affirmed climate as a systemic risk 
  • Expanded internal climate-related capacities 
  • Increased transparency regarding climate-related risk management activities 
  • Assessed climate risks on financially vulnerable communities 
  • Produced research and data on climate change 
  • Conducted climate-related scenario analysis 
  • Improved climate-related disclosure 
  • Included climate risk in supervisory guidance 
  • Included climate risk in regulation 

The 2023 scorecard is the third of its kind. The 2022 iteration, Assessing U.S. Financial Regulator Action on Climate Financial Risk, assessed nine federal regulators on 6 criteria and identified 230 actions since April 2021 to address climate financial risk.  

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. The Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets is a center of excellence within Ceres that aims to transform the practices and policies that govern capital markets to reduce the worst financial impacts of the climate crisis. It spurs action on climate change as a systemic financial risk—driving the large-scale behavior and systems change needed to achieve a net-zero emissions economy through key financial actors including investors, banks, and insurers. The Ceres Accelerator also works with corporate boards of directors on improving governance of climate change and other sustainability issues. For more information, visit www.ceres.org and www.ceres.org/accelerator and follow @CeresNews.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Project Drawdown: Working to Halt Climate Change

By Rebekah Moan, Climate & Capital Media

Despite extreme heat and flooding, Dr. Jonathan Foley says he’s more optimistic than ever. 

Climate and Capital Media Featured NewsThe world is in a race between two very different futures, according to Project Drawdown’s executive director Dr. Jonathan Foley. The world will be a bleak one where we let climate change go unabated and the effects get worse and worse or one where we don’t let climate change go unabated and we build a better and more equitable world.

“I’ve been working on climate change issues in one way or another for about 30 years now and I’ve never been more optimistic about our chances,” Foley said in a recent webinar of the organization’s science-based plan to address climate change. “Because new technologies, new policies, new movements, new businesses, new markets, new everything is starting to grow and grow exponentially… I’m convinced that we can win this race if we really put our minds to it.”

It’s time to stop delaying and distracting

It’s a strong, positive message of the kind you don’t often hear from those working on the existential crisis that is climate change, and one that is welcome as heatwaves, flooding and fires ravage large swathes of the planet.  

Project Drawdown wants people to know three things: There are real science-backed methods to halt climate change, it’s time to stop delaying and distracting each other and, maybe most importantly, not to give in to doom and despair about climate change. There is still hope.

Founded by environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist Paul Hawken and activist Amanda Joy Ravenhill in 2014, Project Drawdown’s mission is to help the world reach “drawdown” — the point in time where levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to decline. The organization’s approach is to tackle the difficult task of determining what would really work to address climate change most efficiently and realistically.  

Some solutions may surprise you, others the world just isn’t doing fast enough 

Instead of pushing hype, Project Drawdown works with hundreds of scholars, students, scientists, researchers and activists to map, measure and model substantive solutions that can reverse global warming as quickly and as safely as possible. These are proven, workable solutions that can reduce emissions, support nature “sinks” for storing carbon, and improve society by centering equality for all. 

Solutions are chosen using criteria including whether the solutions are currently available, growing in scale, financially viable and able to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations. They must also have a net positive effect and sufficient data to assess their potential. To come to its climate solution recommendations, Project Drawdown’s research fellows review scientific literature and simulation models, which are then reviewed by external experts in the field and refined as needed. If the proposed solution still meets inclusion criteria, it becomes part of Project Drawdown’s solutions library

Drawdown Roadmap: Science Framework to Accelerate Climate Solutions, Dr. Jonathan Foley speaking at TEDxBoston (January 2023). One of the keys to avoiding climate catastrophe is to rapidly invest significant capital in climate solutions through private investment, philanthropy and government funding. Philanthropists, impact investors, and venture capitalists are now investing over $150 billion per year in new climate solutions and ventures. The world’s governments are also starting to step up, investing even more in climate solutions. And this funding will likely accelerate, snowballing into significant action. This presents us with a huge opportunity today.

The solutions library cuts across sectors including electricity, food, industry, transportation, buildings, etc. to determine where society should focus its attention. For a jolt of the positive, rather than climate doom, log into Drawdown’s top 100 list — arranged for both 2C and 1.5C of warming scenarios — to see what rates as the most impactful. The solutions library cuts across sectors including electricity, food, industry, transportation, buildings, etc. to determine where society should focus its attention. 

Some of the solutions, like landfill methane capture, dynamic glass and improved aquaculture, may surprise you. Others like conservation agriculture, EVs and insulation are things we all know are needed but the world still isn’t doing fast enough to achieve the emissions reductions we require. 

‘The solutions we need are already here”

Project Drawdown experts say direct emissions cuts should account for approximately 87% of global efforts while indirect emissions cuts (7%) and carbon removal (6%) should account for the rest. This stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric of fossil fuel companies touting  technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

At July’s TEDx event in Detroit, Foley said as a society, we must prioritize immediate actions with cumulative benefits such as stopping deforestation and cutting methane leaks as our first priority. Next, we must focus on those actions that cut carbon emissions rather than high-tech solutions. Third, society must prioritize geographical hotspots with an outsized effect on climate change, such as the Amazon rainforest or high-emission factories. Lastly, the best place to spend money is on solutions that benefit people’s well-being, promote food security and increase access to clean water and sanitation. 

In his recent Drawdown update, Foley ran counter to “doomism,” or the feeling that nothing can be done. With climate anxiety increasing and a recent survey of about 10,000 young people found more than half of them were “very worried” or “extremely worried” about climate change, Foley’s Drawdown update was strongly positive about the action we can take and that there is hope for our ability to move quickly to climate solutions. 

“There’s an opportunity for us to do this,” Foley said. “We need to shift the conversation and we need a new message. That message could be that the world is beautiful, but it needs help to stay that way. The solutions we need are already here. By working together, we can create a better future.”


Article by Rebekah Moan is a freelance journalist, editor, content writer and ghostwriter with a focus on science and health.

Article reprinted with Permission as part of GreenMoney’s ongoing collaboration with Climate and Capital Media.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Sustainable Business

The Climate Pricing Gap

By Zach Stein, Carbon Collective Investing

Above illustration by artist, Nicole Kelner

Why the popularity of passive investing is making it harder for the market to price in climate risk/opportunity.

In the year 2000, 12 percent of the assets in US equity funds were passively managed. By 2021, over 50 percent of US equity fund assets were held in passively managed ETFs and mutual funds.

That is a massive jump in a short period of time. And it’s not the short-term investors who are the major adopters of passive investing, it’s the long-term investors.

This phenomenon of long-term investors shifting from active market participants to passive public market followers has created a pricing gap.

Historically, the stock market had both long- and short-term investors sending pricing signals, as more of those long-term investors have adopted passive investing strategies, movements in the market are increasingly being dictated by short-term investors. The near term noise is winning the day.

The deep currents are being ignored.

So, if you are a long-term investor like us, you are increasingly finding yourself with a “when?” problem when it comes to passive investing. Our clients’ time horizons are long, but the stock market’s pricing mechanisms increasingly can only account for near term trends.

And if you are a sustainable investor like us (and odds are that’s the case if you’re reading this), it might be time to start explaining this phenomenon to your clients more clearly. With so many long-term investors electing to follow, rather than lead, the stock market is not able to accurately price in the long-term risks and/or opportunities of climate change.

Electric cars present a pretty clear example:

  • 50 percent of global oil today is used in cars and trucks on our roadways.
  • In 2020, 1 of 20 cars sold in the world were electric
  • In 2023, the IEA projects it will be one of 5 cars sold will be electric.

So, oil companies are having their single most important market (road transportation) being disrupted by a superior technology (electric cars) that is growing exponentially (33% CAGR).

Sounds like a reason for their stock to decline, right?

In 2021 and 2022, the opposite happened. Thanks to the short-term oil price increases driven by inflation and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, oil stocks have had their best couple years in the past decade (although in 2023, we’ve seen a reversal).

From January 1st, 2020 – June 30th, 2023, The Morningstar US Energy Index is up 61 percent.

From March 20th, 2020, the bottom of the pandemic drop, this index is up a whopping 286 percent.

I won’t be retiring for decades. Does it make sense to not just hold oil stocks in my retirement account (given the rise of electric cars), but hold 61% more of them in my portfolio than I did on Jan 1, 2020?

No. It doesn’t.

Are we seeing the market en masse short REITs with major positions in Florida or parts of California given the exponential explosion in real estate insurance premiums? Nope. At least, not yet.

At some point, this game of musical chairs will end, and the market will correct itself. It always does. The question is, (you guessed it), when?

But until that, the abdication of pricing leadership from long term investors driven by the massive switch to passive strategies, has created a Climate Pricing Gap.

A “Green” Big Short moment is coming.

Fossil fuels have largely been underperforming over the last decade, as shown in this report, but most of the commentary has been that it was because of CEO incentives tied to oil production. This led to expensive fracking that wasn’t financially sound. But what will the performance drag be when investors open their eyes to the climate pricing gap and see that oil majors are being radically outcompeted?

It might not happen for a few years. It might not happen in a sudden collapse, but in a slow deflating. But it will come. And it’s not being accurately priced in today.

The economic tailwinds are behind the clean energy transition. Demand destruction is already happening. Climate change is a glaring risk on the horizon that should be impossible to ignore. But like so much of the rest of society, the stock market is stuck in Don’t Look Up mode.

As an asset manager one of the greatest impacts, you can have is by changing the narrative around sustainable and climate-focused investing. By convincing others, those ready to “Look Up” but not quite there to get on the side of sustainable investing in the 2020’s is simply the best way we can fulfill our fiduciary duty to clients.

Be clear-eyed. This data is right in front of you. Let this embolden you to see beyond passive investing’s false promises. And let’s reset the narrative that sustainable investing is something only for bleeding hearts. It is just another example of American Innovation, and it’s just getting started.


Article by Zach Stein, cofounder and chief investment officer of Carbon Collective Investing, a climate focused investment advisor which inspired the Carbon Collective Climate Solutions US Equity ETF. He is the author of the Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Investing. He lives in Albany, CA with his wife and son.

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Parnassus Removes Investment Screen for Nuclear Power

Parnassus Investments LogoIn support of the transition to a low-carbon economy, Parnassus Investments, a pioneer in responsible investing, is removing its long-held exclusion on companies that make more than 10% of their revenue from nuclear power generation and/or related activities.

This change was approved by the Funds’ board of trustees and will be reflected in the Prospectus dated May 1, 2023.

Parnassus initially established the nuclear power screen in 1984 because of the safety and cost issues involved with building and running nuclear plants. Today, we believe nuclear energy offers a critical source of fuel, with benefits that include low to no emissions, safety and stability.

Tighter regulations governing nuclear plants have also led to improved designs and equipment as well as training and emergency response requirements. We are also pleased with the potential that the new generation of nuclear technology offers for higher safety and lower costs.

“We believe this is the right thing to do at this time because nuclear energy will be an essential source of fuel in the transition to the renewable sources required to support a low-carbon economy, and because we view nuclear power generation, in a highly regulated environment, as a reasonable choice,” said Marian Macindoe, head of ESG stewardship at Parnassus.

The change will have no immediate impact on Parnassus Funds, but it will enable nuclear power companies to be part of the universe of securities considered for investment.

Any potential investment in a company with revenue exposure to nuclear power generation would not only be subject to extensive risk review but would also require deep examination of its traditional investment characteristics.

Parnassus research analysts will evaluate companies involved in nuclear generation and engineering for robust governance, oversight and safety processes, including risk assessments and preparedness for climate, geologic and geopolitical events; a commitment to science-based emissions-reduction targets; and strong policies for nuclear-waste storage and disposal.

In addition to acting in support of a low-carbon economy, Parnassus is removing the nuclear screen in response to investor preferences shifting from exclusionary screens and toward investments in companies with positive social and environmental attributes.

The changes also reflect the firm’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in December 2022, to establish a goal of net-zero emissions in all our funds by 2050, in alignment with the Paris Agreement.


Shareholders in Parnassus Funds can obtain more information by calling (800) 999-3505 or emailing- shareholder@parnassus.com

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Organic Valley 2023 Impact Report: Sustainable Food System & Small Family Farms

Farmer-Owned Cooperative’s Carbon Insetting Program Named as a Finalist in the General Excellence Category of Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards 

Fast Company announced its 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards today and out of 2,200 entries, Organic Valley’s innovative carbon insetting program earned recognition as a finalist and received two honorable mentions. An in-depth look at the awarded carbon insetting program, along with the cooperative’s other innovative programs, are detailed in Organic Valley’s 2023 Impact Report, also released in May.

The 2023 Impact Report unveils Organic Valley’s trailblazing initiatives to minimize its carbon footprint and champion small organic family farms to help support a better, more equitable food system.

The pioneering CROPP Carbon Insetting Program (CCIP) takes center stage, offering a groundbreaking approach to carbon insetting by rewarding Organic Valley farmers for implementing regenerative, climate-smart farming practices, such as tree planting and composting strategies. This revolutionary program empowers Organic Valley to work toward carbon neutrality without relying on carbon offsetting while financially supporting family farms’ environmental stewardship.

Organic Valley ambitiously aims to collaborate with roughly 500 farmer-members over the next five years, implementing more than 1,200 climate-smart farming practices.

Organic Valley also features animal care practices in the report including implementing pasture and outdoor access standards, preventative care, and treatment. By focusing on measurable animal welfare outcomes, Organic Valley transcends traditional methods, employing cutting-edge trigger measures to reward farmers excelling in animal care and addressing issues proactively.

In 2022 alone, the cooperative engaged with over 4,000 farms and conducted more than 2,500 farm visits. Organic Valley’s family farms boast an average of 80 dairy cows, a staggering 3.5 times smaller than the industry average, prioritizing Annual Animal Care Check-ins and comprehensive audits every three years.

The report also unveils astonishing statistics: since 1988, Organic Valley farmers have prevented over 540 million pounds of chemicals — the equivalent weight of 360,000 adult blue whales — from polluting land, waterways, and food. Moreover, the cooperative has generously donated more than 19 million pounds of food in the past seven years and partnered with numerous organizations and nonprofits to bolster local communities across the nation.

“While I am new to Organic Valley, having started as CEO in January of 2023, I am excited about what the future will bring. The story of this farmer-owned cooperative is expanding to include the real impact of the farms of Organic Valley – from the way they care deeply for the earth and animals all the way to the future of carbon and climate action,” said Jeff Frank, Organic Valley CEO.

Organic Valley’s 2023 Impact Report stands as a powerful testament to the cooperative’s unwavering devotion to sustainable agriculture and organic farming practices. The Report focuses on three areas:

Care for People – While providing high quality organic food to the world is what we do, our impact on people’s wellbeing stretches far beyond the grocery aisles. Just this year, Organic Valley brought on 84 additional small organic family farms, making it possible for those families to keep farming for generations to come. We have also continued to show our dedication to the health of our employees both on and off the job.

Care for Animals – Over the years, we’ve become known for our outstanding animal care. This year, we’re happy to report that our average dairy herd size is 3.5 times smaller than the national average, with our dairy cows spending more time outside than 95% of the dairy cows in the U.S. Also, our farmers continue to forge ahead of the industry, coming up with new and innovative ways to provide excellent animal care.

Care for the Earth – Our dedication to farming in harmony with nature and combating the climate crisis is stronger than ever. Our dairy farms produce 24% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional farms, making Organic Valley America’s Low Carbon Dairy. They’ve also kept more than 540 million pounds of pesticides off the land since 1988—enough to cover Alaska and California combined.

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

Soil Wealth Areas Unlock Investing in Conservation and Regenerative Ag

Soil Wealth Areas Report from Croatan InstituteThe Croatan Institute recently released a report, Soil Wealth Areas: Place-based Financing for Conservation, Rural Communities, and Regenerative Agriculture, summarizing a USDA-funded, feasibility assessment regarding development of place-based financing districts in four regions: North Carolina, Northern California, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The project engaged with numerous place-based partners, 40 farms across 25,000 acres, and diverse groups of investors and stakeholders. The project addressed key issues related to regenerative agricultural investment, conservation finance, and access to capital and land, particularly for small and midscale farmers and farmers of color.

Soil Wealth Areas build upon the success of other agricultural districts, such as conservation districts and farmland protection districts. They are inherently place-based and locally governed by diverse groups of regional practitioners and stakeholders, including farmers, agricultural cooperatives, conservation and community-led organizations, value-chain businesses, food hubs, food and farming advocacy groups, food policy councils, and researchers. By being based in place, Soil Wealth Areas can better respond to local producers and entrepreneurs and help ensure that capital providers are aligned with the imperatives of ecologically resilient and socially inclusive food and agricultural systems.

As part of the North Carolina Soil Wealth Areas, for example, the project team facilitated a capital collaboration with Rural Beacon Initiative and Foodshed Capital, a community development financial institution (CDFI), which financed the conservation acquisition of heirs’ property in an historic Free Black community in Martin County. The farm is now implementing a regenerative transition focused on diversified agroforestry and regional food systems.

“As we assess the systems-scale change that is needed to begin addressing historic BIPOC land loss across the Southeast, flexible capital and creative technical assistance will be crucial to achieving real results. Our partnership with Soil Wealth Areas allowed the co-creation of a vision and strategic plan to secure appropriate, patient capital to finance the future of Free Union Farms,” says William J. Barber, III, Founder and CEO of Rural Beacon Initiative and Free Union Farms. “This step will allow us to accelerate the regenerative transition of our farm and serve as a case study on how a place-based model of collaborative capital coordination can help to address the on-the-ground realities to make communities more resilient. Self-determination for communities is the goal. Flexible capital is the first step.”

“We work on a daily basis with farmers and food businesses who need more access to funding and financing so they can make investments in their operations,” said Dr. Carla Norwood, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Working Landscapes, one of the project’s many place-based partners. “Croatan Institute’s Soil Wealth Areas are helping to create more diverse funding and financing options that can better meet these needs by aligning capital providers and producers in our network to drive catalytic impact in regenerative agriculture.”

“At Croatan Institute, we envision an equitable world where finance supports flourishing communities, vibrant places, and resilient regional economies,” said Dr. Joshua Humphreys, Croatan Institute President and Principal Investigator for this report. “Soil Wealth Areas provide a new way for us to help make that vision a reality in place. Based on over two years of collaboration with farmers, place-based partners, and aligned investors, this report outlines specific recommendations for unlocking new sources of capital to finance more regenerative land stewardship and more resilient rural places.”

Additional examples of how this initiative catalyzed change include:

  • Pilot transactions in North Carolina unlocked more than $725,000 in flexible loan capital and crowdfunding donations for farmers involved in the project. The NC team also piloted a Financial Health Investment Project (“FinHealth”) with two cohorts of farmers of color to provide the kind of financial technical assistance that Soil Wealth Areas will integrate into their operations. This includes financial health coaching, farm business planning, and capital access strategies.
  • In Wisconsin, the project team helped advance policy changes to the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program that now extends flexible, land-secured financing to farms making conservation improvements such as managed grazing and agroforestry.
  • On the West Coast, approaches to Soil Wealth Areas differed in California and Oregon. In CA, local leadership will need to drive efforts to coordinate place-based financing at the local level in collaboration with Resource Conservation Districts and aligned capital providers like CDFIs, impact investors, donor-advised funds, and other philanthropic investors.
  • In OR, a more cohesive, statewide dialogue about a Soil Wealth Area model emerged among a growing group of organic farming advocates, land trusts, capital providers, and BIPOC farming groups. The model would ideally be rooted in the state’s diverse agricultural regions.

Following this first phase, Croatan Institute is establishing a national Soil Wealth Community to share learnings about the development of Soil Wealth Areas and place-based financing opportunities. In North Carolina, a new implementation phase of Soil Wealth Areas has begun in coordination with place-based partners, such as Rural Beacon Initiative and Working Landscapes, which is leading a parallel USDA Climate-Smart Commodities project focused on regenerative agriculture and soil health among farmers working with regional food hubs across the state.

This initial $2.5 million feasibility phase of Soil Wealth Areas during 2020-2022 was funded by a $700,000 Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and $1.8 million in private-sector contributions from a wide array of project partners, investors, foundations, and aligned initiatives.

Download a copy of the report here. 


About the Croatan Institute

Croatan Institute is an independent, nonprofit research and action institute whose mission is to build social equity and ecological resilience by leveraging finance to create pathways to a just economy.

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Making Best Farming Practices Work for Investors

By Brian Zisk, Climate and Capital Media

This fintech dealmaker wants to restore America’s Great Plains by combining investors, land purchases, regen ag, renewable energy leases and the right boots on the ground.

Climate and Capital Media Featured NewsAmerica’s first great climate crisis was the “dust bowl” of the 1930s, a manmade environmental catastrophe that greatly eroded sections of the Great Plains in the United States. An insufficient understanding of the Plains ecosystem led to extensive deep plowing of 100 million acres of topsoil, displacing the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture during drought and high winds to grow large quantities of wheat to supply World War I.

The deprecation of the land has continued, but entrepreneurs and investors, including Bill Gates, see a growing opportunity to acquire land at a favorable price to generate substantial monetary & cultural value with renewable technology while regenerating the depleted soil.

Tim Luckow is the founder and CEO of the Colorado-based fintech startup Farm Holdings, which provides a flexible investment platform at the intersection of land restoration, regenerative agriculture, and clean energy production.

Veteran Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Brian Zisk spoke to him recently to find out more. 

Key points:

  • Farm’s projects are designed to match accredited investors with seasoned farmers and ranchers who want to expand and improve farmland to make a positive climate impact. Farm sets up investment deals through SPVs and earns its revenue by charging a fee.
  • One key to project success is undertaking initiatives projects is to co-locate clean energy development with grazing or farming operations.

Brian Zisk: Hi Tim. Thank you for taking the time to chat. Please tell us what you’re doing at Farm and why?

Tim Luckow: I started Farm out of an effort to try to restore as much land as possible and soon became obsessed with soil and soil erosion. We’re learning a lot about what you need to do to make regenerative agriculture work financially for investors, including partnering with farmers and ranchers around the collocation of clean energy with regenerative agriculture.

Brian: Are you the first to do this?

Tim: While we are not the first to address these issues, I think we’re doing it in a slightly different way.

Our model depends on partnering with great farmers and ranchers looking to expand, which I think is relatively unique to Farm Holdings right now. There are a lot of transition funds in agriculture saying, “You’re going from conventional agriculture to organic or regenerative agriculture, and we can help you with a three to five-year funding plan to get through that transition.

Brian: Please tell me about your deal structures. It’s not exactly a fund. Is it more like a series of investment syndicates?

Tim: We think of Farm as a platform.

At this point, we’re doing Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for specific deals for accredited investors. We’re building a track record of doing individual projects with individual operators. We are working to do multiple projects with each partner. So, when we do a project with somebody like Breadtree Chestnut Farms out in New York, it’s not just to do one project. It’s to expand with them for years to come.

On the other side, we’re building our investor network, and we’ve got a little bit over $100 million in expressed demand, mostly just through word of mouth, which is very exciting as it shows that the demand is there and that now it’s an execution game. We need to ensure that the projects we bring to investors are sufficiently attractive.

Brian: How much capital have you deployed to this point?

Tim: We’re just launching our first accredited projects right now.

We did a small parcel in southern Colorado early last year. We’re just now going out with one for Breadtree Farms, which is a $650,000 offering to expand their chestnut farms in New York. Next will be one with a group called Ranchlands, a $7 million offering for the 80,000-acre Paint Rock Canyon Ranch in Wyoming. We have about 10 projects in the works. These types of projects take a while to pull together but we’re moving faster with each one. As a startup, it’s all about finding the right people and projects to partner with and convincing them, and then figuring out how we do this better and more efficiently.

It’s not a pure carbon play by any means nor a pure real estate play. Farm is an ecosystem play as new markets come online, such as biodiversity credits, ecosystem services, and business lines like that. 

Brian: What are you looking for in a partner? What are the parameters that would allow you to work with them?

Tim: The first is a strong track record on the operator side.

Many of these folks have over a decade of working in the space with these practices. We’re looking for leaders in their local community, folks who employ many people in that community. folks who have gotten creative to survive over multiple decades. We’re interested in people aligned with our vision who want to restore landscapes, not just looking for a perfect ranch in perfect condition.  

Brian: How about carbon credits? Are they substantial enough to significantly affect the finances of your projects?

Tim: We think of carbon credits as an additional revenue stream rather than a primary one.

We have looked at many carbon projects on their own and as parts of other projects and couldn’t make the numbers work where carbon was the primary revenue stream.

From an investor standpoint, it is tough as there are a lot of assumptions and very long timelines, especially not knowing the value of carbon credits far down the road.

Brian: So where does the additional revenue come from?

Tim: While we’re looking at projects where the primary revenue stream tends to be lease payments and revenue shares from an agricultural operation, we’re even more interested in energy leases.

A clean energy lease from a wind or solar developer can be 10x the price of an agricultural lease.

Farm’s original idea was to go buy large swaths of land and co-locate clean energy with regenerative agriculture, and what we’ve found working with agricultural operators is they are extremely open to that. Something similar has already happened historically multiple times, during the oil and gas booms, etc. Drive around Colorado, where I live now, and you’ll see oil and gas rigs on the corner of farmland most of the time.

Brian: When people invest, they want the best financial return. Do you project competitive financial returns, or are people backing Farm projects more for the additional environmental benefits?

Tim: While much of our investor community comes from an environmental standpoint, we care deeply about making the returns competitive.

We target 8%+ on our projects. With land appreciation and joint ventures, we believe we can get there. Other platforms in this space have pretty significantly outperformed their target returns. That is our hope over time, for regenerative agriculture to be a good investment, especially if you have an ownership stake in the land.

Brian: Does this investment require taking a new look at how you value land?

Tim: Yes. There are misaligned incentives at this point.

We are working on deal models where our operating partner has equity in the land, which will be important over time. Overgrazing is the classic example of where you lose value in these sorts of projects. When you’ve got a land manager with no equity stake in the land, and their entire livelihood depends on the weight of their cows, they have the cows eat as much grass as possible. They’re not thinking about the value of the land. They’re just thinking, “How will I feed my family this year”? As soon as they have a stake in the land value, it becomes a question, “is it worth me grazing that portion of land beyond this point? Is the value of keeping the land healthy worth more than that?” I believe this dynamic is underrated right now. Once folks understand and share part of the upside, it becomes an expansion game.

Brian: What do you charge for managing the investment?

Tim: We’re basically doing a percentage of invested capital and an annual management and reporting fee.

We’re justifying the 1% annual fee by planning to do a lot of work around natural reporting in addition to financial reporting. That’s part of where the impact angle comes back in. It’s going to be really interesting to see as concepts like natural capital grow. We want to be in that space. We want to work with natural capital firms and models, and there’s a lot of untapped value in the land and these landscapes when you apply that lens.

Brian: How do you balance the factors? For instance, this seems like it would be a very advantageous model for solar farms, but from my understanding, they basically strip-mine the land.

Tim: That definitely happens sometimes, though not always.

Some concepts like Agravoltaic are growing in the West right now, where you’re grazing sheep or goats around solar. They’re showing that if you do solar panels a little bit higher, you can actually provide shade and run cattle under them.  

Brian: Do you share practices regarding how people can best manage land?

Tim: Regenerative practices need more of a megaphone than secrecy.

A lot of them are known, and a lot of them are hard to implement. It’s hard to manage the landscape properly, and there are a lot of variables. There are a lot of ways that things can backfire. The aim is to build a land network and then enable younger farmers to access to the land network without risking an entire project.

Brian: What do you find most interesting that I haven’t asked? Is there anything that you’d love to try to get across about what you’re doing?

Tim: A land network that can be optimized over time will be incredibly valuable.

There’s so much complexity, and every landscape has differences. Once you’re gathering data continuously and seeing what works and what doesn’t, and what works together, you can make better use of it. Hundreds of millions of acres have zero- or one-use today that could be repurposed with a better climate and soil and biodiversity perspective.

The Value of Partnership. Beyond just the land, I get really excited about partners enabling each other. We’ve had an agro-forestry group benefitting from having cattle and bison ranchers in the network because then they can plant trees on that range land. They can’t justify an entire project based on this alone, but this is a nice little additional revenue stream. There can be a carbon revenue stream, and some can add shade and value to the property.

We have a variety of solar developers who are enabled by access to the grassland’s acreage. What gets really interesting is called behind-the-meter use. It sets up the opportunity for another lease next to an energy project and to use that electricity before it hits the grid. It could be an indoor farm, crops or crypto. You could charge your electric tractors.

Brian: What’s gating Farm from massive success? What would you do if you could blow through one thing that was blocking you?

Tim: It would make it easier for anybody to invest in these projects.

We’re currently offering under the 506c JOBS Act, and that’s why I can talk about some of this stuff. My dream for Farm is that anybody can use it like a stock trading app and invest in these projects. All of a sudden, you are looking at your land and natural capital values next to stocks and assets like that, and regenerative land is an asset class that should be in that group.


Article by Brian Zisk, who is a seed investor in and advisor to Chia Network, the eco-friendly cryptocurrency of the future being developed by Bram Cohen. He was the Head of Market Development for Chia Network prior to the network launch. Brian is a founder of BuzzMakers, Inc., which has produced 19 SF MusicTech Summits, 7 Future of Money & Technology Summits, and the Maui MusicTech Experiment. He is a co-founder of the SF MusicTech Fund. Additionally, Brian is a Board Member Emiritus and Co-Founder and of the Future of Music Coalition and has been a Board Member and/or Strategic Advisor for a wide variety of tech companies and non-profits.

Article reprinted with Permission as part of GreenMoney’s ongoing collaboration with Climate and Capital Media.

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Regenerative Ag Sustains & Revives Local Communities

By Tracey Ryder, Edible Communities

Tracey Ryder Edible CommunitiesI believe that excellent storytelling has the power to change lives and that it is the emotional, human connection to others that makes us care, that effects change and that illuminates the humanness of others to a point we can’t ignore. And this simple concept is the foundational pillar of the work Edible Communities has done for the past two decades and continues to do.

With 75 community-based, food-focused magazines throughout North America and an annual audience of 20 million readers, I can no longer count the number of stories we’ve published that have literally changed lives. About 18 years ago, I was visiting a cheesemaker with the publisher of one of our magazines. The publisher was writing a story about a young woman who was hand pulling fresh mozzarella cheese and the photographer was busy taking photos. At some point during the interview, the cheesemaker said: “I don’t think you should publish this story about me. I’m probably going to be out of business by the time it’s in print. I’ve sold all the shares I can sell in my business and I’m just not making it.” The publisher responded: “Just hang on until the story comes out. I really believe it will help you.” I’m happy to report that all these years later, the cheesemaker is thriving, and her business did not fail. This is just one of the hundreds of times I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the power of honest, authentic storytelling in action.

But what we don’t talk about often enough is the other side of the storytelling equation, which is the sparks that are ignited when readers engage with a story that makes them take action and make change.

The very best phone call I can receive at our office is one that goes like this: “I’ve lived in this community my whole life and I had no idea we had all of these amazing people here.” That is the kind of awakening the Edible Communities magazines make possible. We write stories about local farmers, fishers, food producers, winemakers, craft brewers, food and agriculture organizations, and you, dear readers, take notice and act. And it’s not the purely transactional call to action advertisers want you to take, but rather, you buy local because it supports your neighbors, your kid’s schoolteacher who is making jam on weekends or your community leader who is trying to feed the homeless more nutritional foods.

It’s the very symbiotic exchange that happens between writer, reader and subject that makes us care — and more importantly — makes us feel connected. As the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer so eloquently writes in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, “All flourishing is mutual,” and I could not agree more. Moreover, when that flourishing happens between members of a community, it is even more powerful.

Regenerative Parallels

When it comes to flourishing at the agricultural level, regenerative agriculture has become a hot topic over the past few years. While it is more recently trending, our Edible Communities network has seen it implemented at the local, grassroots level since we started writing more than 20 years ago. Regenerative agriculture offers an alternative approach that prioritizes both food production and environmental stewardship. Our work addresses this daily and seeks to find solutions.

In a way, the local, independent magazine network we have created from one small newsletter out of Ojai, California, has a lot of parallels to what makes regenerative agriculture smart and sustainable.

Edible Communities – From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up 

A seed won’t grow unless you plant it in soil that is already fertile and ready to nourish new life. We have found this to be true in the communities where our magazines are planted. Our magazines are only successful if the region and community they serve are willing and ready to uplift and support the stories and companies that are in the pages.

Regenerative agriculture depends on biodiversity to ensure a healthy environment for cultivation, and that mix is very much dependent on what region of the country, elevation and weather conditions are present. In the same way, each of our magazines is incredibly unique and thrives on the diversity in growers, purveyors, chefs, restaurants, policy advocates and readers who make up the community. The stories told in the pages of Edible Bozeman are entirely different than those in Edible South Florida, but they relate to and with their readers and their community.

Like with agriculture, it takes water to grow, and with a media network, it takes a village to ensure we are filling each other’s buckets with new ideas, encouragement, mentorship, motivation and sometimes a simple helping hand. Our network is a community within a community, and every member helps fill and carry buckets for their neighbors when needed.

Adopting regenerative agriculture is not the easy way, but it is the right way. It is not a way to get rich quick. It takes someone who is passionate about the work they are doing and what they are contributing to their community and to future generations — it’s a long-term investment. I see this passion daily in the efforts of our editors and publishers to continue telling important stories.

Edible Communities - Future Flourishing

Future Flourishing

Today, most of the news we see is highly charged with differing opinions and divisiveness. Media outlets are owned by media moguls who are more about advertisers’ dollars than honestly reporting the news. Regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, you’re not getting the honest story. Independent media outlets are being challenged to the utmost today — between supply chain issues and drastically increased costs — yet we need them more than ever.

In the same way, “big ag” is dominating with its dollars and pushing food based on value, not values. The work being done to prioritize regenerative agriculture practices is immense, but we still need to get food on the table for a growing population.

The only way to help essential ideas flourish is to continue talking about them, continue reminding each other what is important and continue supporting those people doing the work to get us there.

Whether it’s your local Edible magazine or any other independent media, I hope you will support it. These outlets play a crucial role in this realm by promoting transparency, accountability and education and by advocating for sustainable practices that protect the environment, support local economies and promote social justice.

We really are all connected, from the ground up. And in this crazy post-pandemic world, we need connections more than ever. And what could be better than remembering, each and every day, that all flourishing is mutual… 


Article by Tracey Ryder, co-founder and CEO, Edible Communities — the nation’s largest media company dedicated to the sustainable food movement, which has allowed her to build an extensive network of relationships with mission-driven brands and their founders for over 20 years. Edible Communities currently publishes nearly 80 titles across North America and won the Publication of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation. Edible Communities reaches 20 million readers each year. In 2022, the company celebrated its 20th anniversary. 

Ryder has been a marketing and communications consultant for food and agriculture companies for the past three decades and has a deep understanding of consumer trends and brands. Today, she works with several companies creating custom publications, websites, and marketing materials, and is a trained chef and recipe developer. She is a regular speaker at conferences and events on various topics relating to independent media, food and agriculture.

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

Signup to receive GreenMoney's monthly eJournal

Privacy Policy
Copyright © GreenMoney Journal 2023

Website design & development by BrandNature

Global Events Calendar

View All Events


26sepAll Day27The ESG Forum 2023 - virtual

26sepAll Day29Greenbuild International Conference and Expo – DC

27sepAll DayESG in Fixed Income Global Series 2023 - NYC