Tag: Impact Investing

Ecofin strives to make a positive impact without compromising returns-by Brent Newcomb

Ecofin Strives to Make a Positive Impact Without Compromising Returns

By Brent Newcomb, Ecofin

Brent Newcomb of EcofinWho We Are

Ecofin is a sustainable investment firm that’s passionate about striving to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns while making a true impact on the environment and society.

Our roots date to the 1990s as a London-based boutique advisory firm focused on water and energy infrastructure. In the early 2000s, Ecofin began managing money as a utility-focused investment manager and by the end of the decade, was awarded an environment-related mandate from a large Scandinavian sovereign wealth fund.

In 2018, we sought a partner to help fuel our growth, including in the US. We ended up merging with Tortoise, an essential asset investment firm, which had begun shifting its strategic focus to sustainability in 2016. What we found was a shared vision that sustainable investing does not compromise performance to make an impact. Moreover, we shared a view that we are experiencing a sustainability revolution with decades of growth ahead of us, along with exponential impact to the environment, society and in communities.

When we joined Tortoise in 2018, we retained the Ecofin brand as a platform for our products, which now includes all of our sustainability-oriented strategies. Today, Ecofin is the result of a deliberate process between 2016 and 2018 to bring together experts and world-class investors with decades of experience in sustainable investing. Our team invests in both private and public market strategies across the following major themes: climate action, water and social impact.

What makes us different and is the source of our strength, is our talented team. This is demonstrated in our performance and in our perspectives on the future, which aligns with our devotion to the sustainability revolution and our commitment to investments that help solve pressing global challenges, while creating compounding wealth opportunities for our clients.

What We Do

We are a sustainable specialist dedicated to climate action, social impact and water.

First, climate action is the drive to reduce emissions, and includes both the energy transition and waste transition.  This means conventional categories such as solar, wind, hydro and batteries, in addition to the electrification of transport, energy efficiency, waste-to-value (recycling) and waste-to-energy (cleaner fuels such as renewable natural gas).

EcoFin Turbine-2 - GreenMoney

Second, our investments in social impact focus on providing access to quality education, particularly the underserved population, as well as affordable housing and equal access to healthcare and sustainable communities.

Third, our water investments endeavor to help provide access to clean water and improve water scarcity and sanitation.

Across all themes, we focus on companies and assets that we believe provide investors with the opportunity to compound wealth and preserve capital, while providing a social good.

Why We Do It

Some of the world’s most pressing challenges have been given newfound attention. The devotion to these issues is the bedrock of the Sustainability Revolution. These are long-term secular themes and structural changes occurring on a global scale. We believe we are in the early stages of a multi-decade tectonic shift. The consequences of these changes are shifts in how we make basic decisions, how we consume resources and how we live on the planet. The shift in behavior is also re-shaping the investment landscape.

After decades of debate and procrastination, in our view, it is now clear these forces of change are irreversible and here to stay, strengthened by demands from multiple generations. The power of these forces makes sustainable investing a GARP-like strategy (Growth At a Reasonable Price), and in some cases, tech-like, in which companies’ growth potentials and valuations are misunderstood. They have aggressive growth prospects where value is not appreciated.

Reverse,Vending,Recycling,Machine.,Recycling,Machine,That,Dispenses,Cash.,Man
Reverse vending recycling machine – a recycling machine that dispenses cash

Addressing societal and environmental challenges can be a highly profitable business. This is part of the conscious capitalism philosophy that businesses should operate ethically while pursuing profits. Many companies are growing their top and bottom lines and benefitting from rapidly improving growth prospects, multiple expansion and lower cost of debt. Moreover, the expanding pool of ESG capital is bringing greater awareness and receptivity to their stocks. In addition, we think these companies will have better access to talent, and be less exposed to certain regulatory risks and the risks posed by environmental and social variables. The companies that are dedicated to sustainable practices – and providing transparency – have been attracting lower costs of capital and experiencing the early stages of a “sustainability premium”.

Key Drivers of Growth

Three key bills are before Congress that could have a significant impact on the energy sector: The Build Back Better, Green and Clean Future Acts.  Of course, others may well emerge. One of the biggest objectives of the Biden administration is to commit America to a Zero Net Carbon goal by 2050 and to attach some meaningful near-term targets and opportunities to achieve that. Specifically the White House wants 100 percent decarbonization of the utility system by 2035.

These bills will undoubtedly take multiple twists and turns, but with control of the White House and Congress we think it is highly likely some form of these bills will pass. Wealth creation with adding new sources of energy to the system over the past 100 plus years has been bigger than you can calculate. But it was all carbon. Now we’re decarbonizing and we have options because of technology.  We have the will because people, governments and corporations know it’s worth their time.

Looking to the Future

The case for a return-oriented approach to sustainable investing has become clear. The impact of addressing sustainable issues, from climate change to racial and social justice, has become a compelling investment case and, just as important, not factoring these issues represents an investment risk. Societies desire to accelerate the transformation to greener, decarbonized and more sustainable economies. These powerful and secular forces can generate substantial wealth creation and compelling risk-adjusted investment opportunities for both companies and investors for the many decades to come. Ecofin is up for the challenge of striving to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns to investors, while also making a positive impact on society.

 

Article by Brent Newcomb, President of Ecofin.  Mr. Newcomb joined the firm in 2014 and is a member of the Executive Committee and Ecofin Development Committee and serves as President of Ecofin. He is a member of investment committees for various Ecofin investment strategies as well as Tortoise Essential Assets Income Term Fund. Previously, Mr. Newcomb worked for GCM Grosvenor where he focused on portfolio management. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago Booth School Of Business.

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

The Second Wave of Sustainability is Health and Wellbeing

By Sam Adams, VERT Asset Management

Kilroy Realty’s Columbia Square Residence Tower: First apartment rental project to achieve WELL Multifamily Residential Certification

For health and wellbeing in buildings, a wellness certification for a building was a luxury a year ago. Now some consider it a must have, and a way to encourage workers back to the office.

Sam Adams-VERT Asset MgmtWe humans typically spend 90 percent of our time indoors. Perhaps that’s why many us are somewhat complacent about buildings. We generally assume they are safe places to be. The pandemic changed all that. Suddenly, our attention is on whether our immediate environs can make us sick. We are asking questions about air quality, surface cleanliness, and even elevator capacity.

We have known buildings can make people sick for quite some time. The World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term Sick Building Syndrome or SBS in 1986. SBS occurs when occupants experience headaches, allergy-like symptoms, or feel dizzy after spending time indoors. Poorly maintained office buildings are estimated to impact 20 percent of workers. Improvements to air quality, reductions in air pollutants, and better ventilation can reduce symptoms by 70 percent.

SBS is not just a ventilation issue. A building’s stored supply of fresh water can reach unsafe levels of bacteria if the water system is not well maintained, leading to illness and even Legionnaire’s disease.1 Professor Joe Allen’s book, Healthy Buildings, identifies the nine foundations of a healthy building — ventilation, air quality, health, moisture, dust and pests, safety and security, water quality, noise, lighting and views. They are derived from 40 years of scientific evidence on the factors that drive better health and performance for a buildings’ occupants.

9 Foundations of a Healthy Building-VERT Asset Mgmt.2

People, Planet, or Profit?

Buildings consume 40 percent of global energy and create 30 percent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.2 Being the energy hogs that they are, it was perhaps logical for the early focus of ESG investors to be on energy use reduction. It was also an easy return on investment. Reduce the energy use, reduce the utility bill. That’s good for the planet, and good for profit too. But what about the people?

A healthy workforce is a more profitable one. Healthier workplaces see less employee absenteeism, less sick days, and less employee turnover. Improving workspaces so people are more productive isn’t as easy as changing an incandescent light bulb to LED. But it’s not as hard as we might imagine.

The 3-30-300 rule

This rule of thumb describes a company’s costs for utilities, rent and payroll — all measured per square foot, per year.

A company renting office space for $30 a square foot can typically expect the utility bill to be a tenth of that, or $3. The payroll for the employees occupying that space is on the order of $300 per square foot.

Where then to focus effort?

  • 10% saving on utilities nets 30 cents.
  • 10% drop in rent saves 3 dollars.
  • 10% boost in worker productivity adds $30 dollars of value.

Companies are now beginning to focus more on the potential gains from investing in worker productivity.

The World Green Building Council published reports in 20143 and 20164 that summarize the dozens of studies that link sustainable workplace design to employee health, well-being and productivity. Case studies highlight the increases in productivity from various improvements:

  • Individual temperature control: +3%
  • Improved ventilation: +11%
  • Better lighting: +23%
  • Access to natural environment: +18%

WELL and Fitwel Building Certifications

Traditional green building certifications like LEED and BREEAM have been around for over 25 years with a primary objective to reduce environmental impacts. WELL and Fitwel are newer certifications—both less than ten years old—that focus on occupant health and well-being. Both certifications complement the requirements in a LEED or BREEAM certification, but include more health-focused requirements such as active workstations, proper lighting, low VOC materials, and layouts that promote worker interaction and even hydration. The Fitwel certification process is less onerous than the WELL version — it is both cheaper and an easier to attain. The WELL certification requires on-site verification and is more globally recognized. Building owners pursue the different certifications for different types of projects.

In June 2020 the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), administrator of the WELL certification, created the specialized WELL Health-Safety rating in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Just 9 months later, over one billion square feet of space had enrolled to be rated. The rapid adoption of this safety rating illustrates how companies are committing to healthier spaces all around the world.

Investing in Health and Well-Being

Forward-thinking real estate companies are investing in upgrades and certifications to make their buildings more attractive to tenants looking for health and wellness. They are banking on employers choosing healthier spaces for their next office lease, and that residents will be looking for these features in their living spaces. Leaders include:

  • Empire State Realty5, owner 10 million square feet of rentable space across 14 office properties including the iconic Empire State Building, is the first commercial portfolio in the US to achieve the WELL Health-Safety rating across its entire portfolio. They have also Fitwel certified 6 of their NYC properties to date.
  • Kilroy Realty6 owns 55 properties up and down the West Coast and have more Fitwel certified projects than any other firm in the world, totaling over 43% of their portfolio. They also achieved the world’s first Well certification of a residential rental project, for Columbia Square in Hollywood, CA.
  • Dream Office REIT7 in Canada, has earned the WELL Health-Safety rating for 25 of its buildings, representing 87% of their gross leasable space.
  • Australia’s Charter Hall Group8 was one of the first organizations in the world to achieve a WELL Portfolio Score by certifying properties across their organization.
  • “Fitwel Champions” are companies using Fitwel at a portfolio scale. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) making the grade include Alexandria Real Estate Equities9, Boston Properties10, Vornado11, and AvalonBay12.

The Covid-19 crisis has focused the attention of ESG investors on the S pillar (social) more so than ever before. The green building movement is routinely classified under the environment pillar because of the attention paid to energy efficiency. While green building certifications always required health and safety for occupants, the emergence of these new specialized wellness ratings demonstrate the elevation of S toward equal partner in the E, S, and G triumvirate.

 

Article by Sam Adams, CEO and co-founder of Vert Asset Management. He also chairs the Investment Research Group. Sam leads the development of new products to help make sustainable investing easier for investors. He has been a featured speaker on sustainable investing at financial advisor conferences in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia. Prior to launching Vert, Sam spent almost 20 years working at Dimensional Fund Advisors. He started Dimensional’s European Financial Advisor Services business and led it for 10 years. Sam was part of the team that created Dimensional’s first ESG strategies, the Sustainability Core funds that are offered in the US. He also led the development and launch of Dimensional’s Global Sustainability Core Fund in Europe.

Sam has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MBA in Finance from the University of California, Davis. Sam is an avid mountaineer and cyclist, and is very passionate about the environment. He lives in Mill Valley, CA with his wife and three children.

 

Footnotes and Sources:
[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Legionella. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/about/causes-transmission.html
[2] United Nations Environmental Programme (2015). The Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme.
[3] World Green Building Council (2014). Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter.
[4] World Green Building Council (2016). Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in the Green Offices.
[5] Empire State Realty is 0.18% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[6] Kilroy Realty is 0.78% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[7] Dream Office REIT is 0.04% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[8] Charter Hall Group REIT is 0.16% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[9] Alexandria Real Estate Equities  is 3.57% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[10] Boston Properties is 1.80% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[11] Vornado is 0.85% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.
[12] AvalonBay Communities is 3.02% of the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund (VGSRX) as of March 31, 2021.

 

The Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund only holds publicly traded REITs. Fund holdings and sectors are subject to change at any time and should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security.

Mutual fund investments involve risk. Principal loss is possible. Investors should be aware of the risks involved with investing in a fund concentrating in REITs and real estate securities, such as declines in the value of real estate and increased susceptibility to adverse economic or regulatory developments. Investments in foreign securities involve political, economic and currency risks, greater volatility and differences in accounting methods. A REIT’s share price may decline because of adverse developments affecting the real estate industry. REITs may be subject to special tax rules and may not qualify for favorable federal tax treatment, which could have adverse tax consequences. The Fund’s focus on sustainability may limit the number of investment opportunities available to the fund and at time the fund may under perform funds that are not subject to similar investment considerations.

The Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The statutory and summary prospectuses contain this and other important information about the investment company, and may be obtained by calling 1-844-740-VERT or visiting www.vertfunds.com . Read carefully before investing.

The Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund is distributed by Quasar Distributors, LLC.

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

Why a Cooperative Model for Clean Energy Financing Couldn't Miss-by Blake Jones-Clean Energy CU

Why a Cooperative Model for Clean Energy Financing Couldn’t Miss

By Blake Jones, Clean Energy Credit Union

(above) The Howard Family and their solar PV system

Blake Jones-Clean Energy CUIn 2017, Clean Energy Credit Union (“Clean Energy CU”) received its federal charter and became the first “thematic,” online-only, federally insured depository institution with an exclusive focus on clean energy lending. Since then, Clean Energy CU has experienced tremendous success and is influencing both the banking and clean energy sectors. To say that “the time was right” for Clean Energy CU would be an understatement. Understanding its right-out-of-the-gate success requires a look at the underlying market conditions that necessitated its launch.

In the early 2000s, growth in the clean energy sector was driven by improvements in costs, technological innovation, government policy, and public opinion. This growth, however, was outpacing the availability of financing that many consumers and homeowners needed to pursue their clean energy projects. For example, upfront costs for residential solar electric systems, residential geothermal systems, and other green home improvements would typically land in the $10,000 to $50,000 range.

Of the 5,000+ credit unions and 5,000+ banks in the USA, only a handful were paying any attention to the sector. As a result, consumer financing options were typically limited to, and dominated by, VC-backed “fintech” companies such as Mosaic, Sungage Financial, and Dividend Finance, resulting in a dearth of competition to drive down borrowing costs. In contrast, all other segments of the clean energy value chain were laser-focused on reducing costs as rapidly as possible. Financing was the weak link that needed to catch up, and the cheapest form of consumer financing generally comes from federally insured depository institutions (i.e. banks and credit unions), so their entrance into the sector was sorely needed.

Against the backdrop of the clean energy economy were burgeoning concepts like impact investing, conscientious consumerism, and purposeful careers. In that evolving, impact-economy landscape, the need for an “impact banking” or “sustainable banking” option was plain to see. Even so, there were a surprisingly limited number of options for consumers to choose from such as Self-Help Credit Union, Amalgamated Bank, and Beneficial State Bank. Widespread awareness had yet to be raised that where you deposit your money was as important as how you earned, invested, and spent it.

By 2014, there was high, unmet demand for affordable clean energy loans juxtaposed with the dire needed to spark an “impact banking” movement. It was then that a group of volunteers, comprised mostly of clean energy professionals and cooperative enthusiasts, convened to address these needs. Upon learning that credit unions are, by definition, not-for-profit and member-owned cooperatives, they saw that the path forward was not actually a stockholder-beholden bank model whose mission would be subordinated to profit-maximization motives, but rather what would become Clean Energy CU.

The operating model is built entirely around the belief that everyone should be able to participate in the clean energy movement—whether as a user, an investor/depositor, or both.  Clean Energy CU offers a much-needed value proposition: member deposits will earn a competitive interest rate, be federally insured, and be used exclusively to help others pursue their clean energy or energy-saving projects via market-leading, custom-tailored loan terms.

In early 2018, after a three-year federal charter application process, Clean Energy CU opened its virtual doors. As a federally chartered credit union, it is tax exempt and deposits are federally insured, thereby giving it the lowest possible cost of capital. As a cooperative, it is democratically owned and governed by its members, and the primary reason for its existence is to serve its mission and members. An online/mobile-only services platform eliminates the need for expensive brick-and-mortar branches – and their associated overhead – and helps lower operating costs. Its focus on clean energy lending enables critically important market expertise, awareness, and adaptability.

Thapa family solar PV system
The Thapa Family and their solar PV system

Services were initially limited to savings accounts, clean energy CDs, and an array of clean energy loan products (e.g. e-bikes, EVs, solar electric systems, and geothermal systems). Philanthropic support that included a $1M grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2019 provided a substantial springboard. To date, over 4,500 clean energy loans totaling over $70M have been funded for members throughout the country without a single delinquency or default. Clean Energy CU continues to grow rapidly, and its services now include checking accounts, debit cards, IRAs, and Money Market accounts. Next, Clean Energy CU is planning to offer green home mortgages, credit cards, and clean energy loans to businesses and nonprofits.

Nida and Shahaan and their Tesla EV-Clean Energy CU
Nida and Shahaan with their Tesla EV

Clean Energy CU is also helping 45+ other credit unions learn about clean energy lending via “loan participations.” By selling portions of its loan pools to other credit unions, Clean Energy CU is able to lend far beyond what its start-up balance sheet would allow. Participating credit unions are able to invest their excess cash, diversify their loan portfolios, and gain experience with an exciting new asset class. Seeing firsthand how well these loans perform on their own books helps other credit unions to convince their own boards and regulators that clean energy loans are more valuable and less risky than previously thought, partly because they inherently save borrowers money (e.g. in the form of lower utility bills and fuel costs) which then increases the borrower’s ability and motivation to make their loan payments. In turn, this encourages more credit unions to do their own clean energy lending, thereby spurring competition and driving down financing costs to fund the rapidly growing clean energy movement.

Importantly, Clean Energy CU is committed to JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion). With over half of its members from low-income census tracts, the National Credit Union Administration recognized it as a “low-income designated credit union” in 2020. Loan programs are under development to favor underserved demographics by offering discounted loan terms to low-to-moderate income borrowers and prioritizing both BIPOC populations and those vulnerable to pollution. As a precursor to these new loan programs, Clean Energy CU recently announced a new program with fellow cooperative, Organic Valley, to offer discounted loan terms to help its membership of organic family farms use clean energy, save energy, and save money.

Clean Energy CU may be the first of its kind, but it won’t be the last. New fintech companies and banks with similar goals are popping up like Aspiration, Climate First Bank, and Atmos. Clean Energy CU aims to help grow the clean energy movement and disrupt the entire retail banking sector which is receiving increased pressure to stop its fossil fuel lending and help finance climate change mitigation. With all that it has achieved in just its first three years of operation, we’re incredibly excited about what Clean Energy CU will accomplish next.

  

Article by Blake Jones, co-founder and volunteer board chair of Clean Energy Credit Union. Blake is also a co-founder of three other cooperatives: (1) Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative; (2) Amicus Solar Cooperative, a purchasing cooperative; and (3) Kachuwa Impact Fund, an investment cooperative and impact investing fund.

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

Future 500s Force for Good Forecast 2021-Sustainability and Stakeholder Trends

Future 500’s Force for Good Forecast 2021: Sustainability and Stakeholder Trends

Our indispensable sustainability and stakeholder trend tracker

Force for Good 2021 Report from Future 500--GreenMoneyEach Spring, we publish the Force for Good Forecast, our team’s signature annual report. We do so to help corporate leaders navigate and lead on the year’s most notable social and environmental advocacy trends.

It’s the kind of report you’d usually find behind a paywall, but we provide it for free. Why? When we launched this report a decade ago, we saw a need to elevate corporate awareness of stakeholder engagement and embed it across a company’s business functions. We knew then that it was more than a “nice to have.” Today, it is critical to business success. Plus, it’s a concrete way for us to advance our mission of building trust between unusual allies––like business leaders, activists, and philanthropists––to advance business as a force for good.

Here’s a taste of this year’s lineup:

Resources Shift to Racial Justice
A rising group of activists are gaining influence, attracting funding, and changing the environmental movement’s expectations.

The Renewed Urgency for Biodiversity
Companies and governments have repeatedly fallen short on protecting flora and fauna. Will this time be different?

Will Chemical Recycling Get Cancelled?
Industry is banking on it to close the loop but activists aren’t buying the hype. Can a solution be reached before the technology is thrown to the curb?

Standardizing ESG Disclosures
Mandatory climate risk disclosures are on the horizon. This is the year to ensure they work for you.

Building Electrification
With the transportation rapidly decarbonizing, advocates are turning their attention to another major fossil fuel guzzler: homes and offices.

Reckoning With a K-Shaped Recovery
Income inequality was a simmering issue long before “social distancing” entered our vocabulary. Will the pandemic make it stakeholder capitalism’s first proving ground?

What is Net Zero, Really?
Even heavy emitters are committing to balance their carbon budget. But stakeholders want to know how you’ll decarbonize before they offer applause.

From Community Relief to Resilience
As compounding crises begin to outstrip local capacity, advocates increasingly expect companies to help fill the void.

Can Companies Help Rescue Democracy?
Escalating political polarization is unraveling democracy. CEOs are speaking up like never before, and stakeholders are taking note.

Download the Report

Future 500 has taken our best shot at these trends, but we don’t always call them right. As always, we welcome your feedback. To stay engaged with our work as we provide further analysis into these critical issues, check out our Corporate Affinity Network, or subscribe to our newsletter for regular insights from the Future 500 team.

 

Future 500 is a non-profit consultancy that builds trust between companies, advocates, investors, and philanthropists to advance business as a force for good. Based in San Francisco, we specialize in stakeholder engagement, sustainability strategy, and responsible communication. From stakeholder mapping to materiality assessments, partnership development to activist engagement, target setting to CSR reporting strategy, we empower our partners with the skills and relationships needed to systemically tackle today’s most pressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges. Want to learn more? Reach out any time.

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

Giants of Social Investing-John Streur and Jack Robinsion by Bruce Piasecki

Giants of Social Investing: John Streur and Jack Robinson

New book by Bruce Piasecki

We live in a time of social unrest, when the ability to listen deeply and resolve matters of import are often lost in wheel spinning. Over the last five years, after my bestseller Doing More with Less: The New Way to Wealth, began introducing me to an array of incredibly interesting money managers, and social leaders, I wrote five short biographies to chronicle and to dramatize in everyday language the origins, ambitions, and results of these exemplar lives, sort of what Freud, Churchill, and Emerson did in far better ways in prior decades. But I used them as my models to capture the essence of these lives and their social contributions.

Curiosity led me to investigate these lives of social consequence. Although this book is about money and its social impacts, it is not simply about money-making; it is about becoming like Ben Franklin all over again,— inventive, diplomatic, supportive of others, and about social value.

Why a book about the John Steuer, CEO of Calvert Investments? And why a book about Jack Robinson, the founder of Winslow Investments (meaning Win Slow), and eventually the Vice Chairman and portfolio lead at Trillium Investments? These folks have made their clients rich, as they have influenced the bigger fish on Wall Street.

These two “giants” are recognized by Bloomberg, the SEC, and the investment community as leaders in mainstreaming Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) into the capital markets.

In fact, leaders in ESG now at Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Brown Advisory have been mentored by these giants. This goes well beyond the letters of intent stated these days by Blackrock’s Larry Fink, as these universal owners do not differentiate the kinds of winners before Jack and John.

I focused my attention on people who I felt served the greater fabric of society in ways that were often overlooked by mainstream praise. I have been fortunate enough to interact with interesting people throughout my firm’s 42 years, and am thrilled to introduce you to them. This excitement brought me to writing about sustainable fashion icon Eileen Fisher, expert on social cohesion Linda Coady, and now this exciting new release regarding our two friendly “Giants of Social Investing”.

What is ESG Investing?

Readers of GreenMoney know what ESG and social investment entails. But what does it look like from those originating the push? It is in a way getting into their characters that matter most. While John Steuer has plenty of issues he still wants to fix in world markets, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new appetite under the Biden Administration for ESG data, what he has done to date matters. While Jack Robinson has watched ESG go from nothing to a third of all dollars in deals, he is not done with this battle as he is deeply focused on climate change investments. Now.

In my book, Giants of Social Investing, I argue that recognizing ESG trends is recognizing success in capital markets.

The book offers you insights into two exemplar lives. Jack Robinson and John Streur helped build the social impact investment world over the last thirty years, changing the very nature of capital markets. While they are both Americans, their influence in this study is shown to be global, reaching the largest Pension Funds in Japan and others on each continent. You see this ESG movement in the behavior of the major credit worthy institutions like Standard and Poors, where S&P purchased specialty researchers like TruCost to keep up to the trends first noted by Robinson and then Streur. There are now, on Bloomberg, over 30 followers to Jack and John listed in this Giants book. For those looking for grounds for hope in the search of social equality, diversity and responses to climate change and clean energy challenges, this book explains how their life work has helped investors discern reliable firms in clean energy, social inclusiveness and the social need for mobility past the combustion engine.

More on John Streur and Jack Robinson

My company was recently honored by Mr. Robinson spending four hours with us. We heard about his genesis, his career trajectory, and his advice. Over the course of those two Web Ex days we not only learned a great deal from Jack, but also from everyone in the audience. If you want the summary slides of the discussion with 70 investment heads, contact me at Bruce@ahcgroup.com, but first arrange for a qualifying discussion thru Marti Simmons, Marti@ahcgroup.com.

If you are interested in joining us for our four-hour conversation with John Streur, scheduled for this September, contact marti@ahcgroup.com for more information on how to RSVP.

Next Steps…

Giants of Social Investing is available for purchase on Amazon and at- https://store.bookbaby.com/book/giants-of-social-investing

Internationally, it is available at www.bokus.com.

Amazon has a fine description of the book here, and you can preview some of book there as well. I invite you to comment on these themes on my Medium entries at- https://brucepiasecki.medium.com

 

Article by Bruce Piasecki  Piasecki has written 16 books since his 1990 Simon and Schuster book. He and his wife have also recently announced their annual $5,000 award, The Bruce Piasecki and Andrea Masters Annual Award on Business and Society Writing. For more information see here or email AWARDS@ahcgroup.com. If under 36, please submit for this Award by August 1, or sooner. For a look at Bruce’s management firm, ACH Group. Inc go here.

“This book offers clear-eyed portraits of two successful and intriguing major world investors. We have seen this kind of penetrating case work before in Emerson, Freud, and Churchill. These profiles offer the immediacy of oral history, the hard-won knowledge of lived experience, with direct quotes from the major investors. This covers world history as their investments influence the over 5,000 companies their careers have influenced.”  

–Paul Grondahl, Director of The New York State Writer’s Institute, and author of this history of Erasmus Corning.


Announcing the Bruce Piasecki and Andrea Masters Award on Business and Society Writing

 

 

Additional Articles, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Calvert Impact Capital Invests in Sunwealth for Solar Access, Energy Savings and Jobs-GreenMoney

Calvert Impact Capital Invests in Sunwealth for Solar Access, Energy Savings & Jobs

Loan finances community-based solar for nonprofits, municipalities and businesses

Clean energy investment firm Sunwealth recently announced a $2.9 million loan from Calvert Impact Capital  to support Sunwealth’s solar access work. Sunwealth will use Calvert Impact Capital’s financing, together with $4.3 million in tax equity investment from private investors, to support 18 solar projects on the rooftops and parking lots of nonprofit organizations, multi-family apartment buildings, houses of worship and commercial office buildings in communities underserved by traditional renewable energy financing. These community-based solar projects will generate enough electricity to power over 300 homes annually, and will provide Sunwealth’s solar customers with $3.8 million in lifetime energy savings. Calvert Impact Capital’s loan will also help catalyze additional investment in Sunwealth’s innovative solar financing model.

Sunwealth brings critical capital to the commercial solar market – supporting solar projects ranging in size from 5 kilowatts to 1 megawatt on building rooftops and parking lots. The company partners with local solar developers and installers to design and construct these projects, which deliver solar access and long-term, meaningful energy savings to building owners and to low- and moderate-income households through community shared solar agreements. Sunwealth helps investors like Calvert Impact Capital put their money to work in these community-based projects, building portfolios that contribute to a more diverse and inclusive solar economy while delivering strong, stable and predictable financial returns.

Calvert Impact Capital’s loan supported projects across five states, including:

  • A 37-kilowatt installation on the rooftop of a multifamily apartment building owned by Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), a nonprofit community development corporation in Brooklyn, NY. This system, installed by Solar Energy Systems, will allow FAC to provide building tenants with $240 in annual savings
  • Two rooftop solar installations totaling 204 kilowatts for the YMCA of Greater Hartford. These systems, installed by Greenskies Renewable Energy, will provide the nonprofit organization with close to $400,000 in lifetime energy savings.
  • A 340-kilowatt system on the roof of Auburn High School, in Auburn, MA. Installed by ACE Solar, this system will provide the school district with $682,000 in lifetime energy savings.

“Investors are looking for proactive solutions to climate change and inequality, two of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Kevin Fanfoni, Director of Investments at Calvert Impact Capital. “Sunwealth’s model offers both: reducing carbon emissions and delivering solar access and savings to underserved markets, while supporting green jobs and revenues for local small businesses. We’re proud to partner with them to build a more equitable and inclusive renewable energy future.”

“For over a generation, Calvert Impact Capital has helped make impact ‘investable,’” said Jon Abe, CEO of Sunwealth. “They’ve set the standard for investments that deliver social and environmental as well as financial returns – and made those returns accessible to all investors. They’re a key partner as we look to decarbonize, decentralize and democratize our clean energy economy.”

Calvert Impact Capital would also like to thank their pro-bono counsel Jonathan Wilcon and Fannie Law at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP for their dedication and support on this transaction.

 

About Sunwealth

Sunwealth is a clean energy investment firm working to change who has access to renewable energy by changing the way we invest in it. Combining deep experience in solar development and finance with roots in community and impact investing, Sunwealth invests in diverse commercial solar projects delivering clean energy and energy savings to communities while providing strong financial returns to investors and community partners. Since 2014, the company has invested over $50 million in more than 400 community-based solar projects nationwide; the company has delivered targeted returns to investors for 25 quarters with no defaults. In 2021, Impact Assets named Sunwealth to its IA50, a leading list of impact fund managers. 

About Calvert Impact Capital

Calvert Impact Capital invests to create a more equitable and sustainable world. Through their products and services, Calvert Impact Capital raises capital from individual and institutional investors to finance intermediaries and funds that are investing in communities left out of traditional capital markets. During its 25-year history, Calvert Impact Capital has mobilized over $2 billion of investor capital. Calvert Impact Capital also offers loan syndications, where they originate, structure, and administer loans for institutional and accredited lenders seeking environmental and social impact. To date, Calvert Impact Capital has syndicated and/or administered more than $300 million of capital for impact-oriented transactions. 

Under no circumstances is the information contained herein to be considered an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any financial product. Investments are offered only via definitive transaction documents and any potential investor should read such documents carefully, including all the risk factors relating to the investment, before investing.

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Domini 2020 Impact Report-GreenMoney

Domini 2020 Impact Report: Opportunities for Positive Change in a Challenging Year

Domini Impact Investments LLC, a women-led impact investment firm, has recently published the Domini Funds 2020 Impact Report, which highlights how investors came together to harness the power of finance to build a better world—despite the world 2020 delivered.

In particular, the report underscores 2020’s most crucial topics — our climate crisis, the novel coronavirus pandemic, and racial and gender inequality. Each of these pressing themes is presented in context with how Domini sets its investment standards, puts its position as an investor to work for positive change, and invests to build vibrant communities. “Impact is when what’s ideal becomes what’s real,” says CEO Carole Laible. “This report is our reality.”

Key Impact Highlights:

To find out more about these initiatives and highlights, download our report.

 

About Domini Impact Investments LLC

Domini Impact Investments LLC is an SEC-registered investment adviser specializing exclusively in impact investing. Domini serves individual and institutional investors who wish to create positive social and environmental outcomes while seeking competitive financial returns. Domini applies social, environmental and governance standards to all its investments, believing they help identify opportunities to provide strong financial rewards to its fund shareholders while also helping to create a more just and sustainable economic system.

 

Before investing, consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Contact us for a prospectus containing this and other information. Read it carefully. The Domini Funds are not insured. You may lose money. Shares of the Domini Funds are offered for sale only in the United States.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The Domini Funds are not bank deposits and are not insured. Investment return, principal value, and yield will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. You may lose money.

The Domini Impact Equity Fund is subject to certain risks including impact investing, portfolio management, information, market, recent events, and mid- to large-cap companies risks. The Domini Impact International Equity Fund is subject to certain risks including foreign investing, emerging markets, geographic focus, country, currency, impact investing, and portfolio management risks. The Domini Sustainable Solutions Fund is subject to certain risks including sustainable investing, portfolio management, information, market, recent events, mid- to large-cap companies and small-cap companies risks. The Domini International Opportunities Fund is subject to certain risks including foreign investing, geographic focus, country, currency, impact investing portfolio management and information risks. Investing internationally involves special risks, such as currency fluctuations, social and economic instability, differing securities regulations and accounting standards, limited public information, possible changes in taxation, and periods of illiquidity. These risks may be heightened in connection with investments in emerging market countries.

The Domini Impact Bond Fund is subject to certain risks including impact investing, portfolio management, style, information, market, recent events, interest rate and credit risks. The value of your investment will fluctuate with changes in interest rates and could decline if an issuer’s credit rating falls, it goes bankrupt or it fails to pay, or otherwise defaults on payments of interest or principal. The Domini Impact Bond Fund currently holds a large percentage of its portfolio in mortgage-backed securities. During periods of falling interest rates, mortgage-backed securities may prepay the principal due, which may lower the Fund’s return by causing it to reinvest at lower interest rates. Some of the Domini Impact Bond Fund’s community development investments may be unrated and carry greater credit risks than its other investments. Potential risks related to the Bond Fund’s investments in derivatives include currency, leverage, liquidity, index, pricing and counterparty risk. TBA (To Be Announced) securities involve the risk that the security the Bond Fund buys will lose value prior to its delivery, that the security will not be issued, or the other party to the transaction will not meet its obligation, which can adversely affect the Fund’s returns. The reduction or withdrawal of historical financial market support activities by the U.S. Government and Federal Reserve, or other governments/central banks could negatively impact financial markets generally and increase market, liquidity and interest rate risks which could adversely affect the Funds’ returns.

DSIL Investment Services LLC (DSILD), Distributor, Member FINRA. 5/21

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2021 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Sustainability Leaders

2021 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Sustainability Leaders

Their dreams are bright: Walkable, equitable cities. Clean energy for Native American communities. Planet-healing fast food. Circular outdoor gear. Decarbonized buildings. Electrified mobility. That’s only a sampling of the ambitions of the sixth class of the GreenBiz 30 Under 30.

Our honorees for 2021 are intrepid startup founders, tenacious corporate innovators and determined public servants. The corporations among them include Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Foodstuffs, Gensler, Google, Ignitis Group, National Grid, Starbucks, Unilever and UPS. Other professionals in this group work at values-driven brands, such as Amy’s Kitchen, East West Tea Company, REI and Timberland. Still others are driving sustainability at nonprofit organizations and consultancies.

All combined, this year’s cohort reports to offices in 12 nations across six continents, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Lithuania, New Zealand and Rwanda. In the United States, they hail from 15 cities, from Albuquerque, New Mexico to New York City — and several emigrated to the U.S. in childhood.

In addition, most of the honorees find the time to exercise global citizenship beyond their day jobs, mentoring youth, hosting a podcast and launching peer networking groups. Some have helped with disaster relief. Others have lost their own homes to natural disasters.

The GreenBiz 30 Under 30 candidates for 2021 were nominated by GreenBiz readers and community members around the world and selected by the GreenBiz editorial team. We’d like to express our appreciation to the World Business Council for Sustainable Business and Net Impact for helping to cast a global net for this year’s nominees.

Our 30 Under 30 Honorees list follows (in alphabetical order) Read about each of these innovators here.

 

Zack Angelini, 29, Senior Environmental Stewardship Manager, Timberland; Malden, Massachusetts

Vartan Badalian, 28, EV100 Program Manager for North America, The Climate Group; New York City

Mayane Barudin, 27, Regional Director and Tribal Liaison, Vote Solar; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Brock Battochio, 28, Co-Founder & Lead Engineer, Planetary Hydrogen; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stacia Betley, 29, Sustainability Integration Manager, Amy’s Kitchen; Petaluma, California

Briana Buckles, 29, Sustainability Manager, East West Tea Company; Eugene, Oregon

Maria Eduarda Camargo, 24, Founder, Pantys; São Paulo, Brazil 

Haseena Charania, 29, ESG Communications Strategy Supervisor, UPS; Atlanta

Morgan Collins, 28, Head of Sustainable Finance, Starbucks; Seattle

Chris Dowd, 26, Strategic Partnerships, Social Impact, Google; San Francisco

Francesca Goodman-Smith, 27, Transform Program Leader, Fight Food Waste Co-op Research Center; Brisbane, Australia

Ghislain Irakoze, 21, CEO and Founder, Wastezon; Kigali, Rwanda

Adrienne Johnson, 29, Associate Engineer, Point Energy Innovations, San Francisco

Jamario Jackson, 29, Senior Community Planner, TransForm; Oakland, California

Lina Khan, 29, Senior Sustainability Specialist and Global Design Resilience Practice Area Leader — Government + Defense, Gensler; San Francisco

Erik Landry, 29, Climate Change Specialist, GRESB; Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bonia Leung, 28, Sustainability Consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM); London

Laurence Lloyd Lumagbas, 29, Sustainability and Strategic Risk Advisory Services Manager, Deloitte Southeast Asia; Taguig City, Manila, Philippines

Akshay Makar, 27, Founder and CEO, Climatenza Solar; Delhi, India

Marta Misiulaityt, 29, Sustainability Manager, Ignitis Group; Vilnius, Lithuania

Alex Mitoma, 28, Environmental Specialist Associate, Port of Long Beach; Long Beach, California

Sripriya Navalpakam, 27, Sustainability Manager for North America, Unilever; New York City

Taylor Price, 29, Manager of Global Sustainability, AptarGroup; Charlotte, North Carolina

Yangshengjing “UB” Qiu, 27, Partnership Development Executive, Green Monday; Shanghai

Brittany Regner, 28, Assistant Vice President, Environmental and Social Risk, Credit Suisse; New York City 

Elisabeth Anna Resch, 28, Advisor, Global Impact Initiatives, United Nations Global Compact; Santiago, Chile

Harold Rickenbacker, 29, Manager, Clean Air and Innovation, EDF; Washington, D.C.

Yashi Shrestha, 28, Director, Science and Research, Novi; Los Angeles

Dawnielle Tellez, 29, Senior Sustainability Analyst, REI, Seattle

Cassandra Vickers, 27, Clean Transportation Product Developer, National Grid; Boston

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Organic Valley Launches Clean Energy Fund for its Farmers-GreenMoney-June 2021

Organic Valley Launches Clean Energy Fund for its Farmers

New Cooperative fund offers nation’s most farmer-friendly renewable energy loan program.

Organic Valley logo(above) A Wisconsin Organic Valley member farm with Solar panels installed. Courtesy of Organic Valley

Advancing its commitment to regenerative farming systems, Organic Valley is partnering with Clean Energy Credit Union (“Clean Energy CU”) to launch the Powering the Good Loan Fund to provide the best loan terms for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with renewable energy and efficiencies. The program is first of its kind for both cooperatives, pioneering a unique clean energy loan fund for over 1,700 farmers across the country.

To accelerate energy improvements, Organic Valley and Clean Energy CU will roll out a $1 million fund with plans to expand. As the nation’s largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley pulls carbon out of the air through regenerative practices like rotational grazing, while also working to reduce carbon emitted wherever possible.

“Organic Valley leads on renewable energy. We have been 100% renewable powered in our owned facilities since 2019, and now we are going a step further,” said Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO. “We are focused on a whole systems approach to renewable energy, and I’m excited to debut this energy loan fund. From the farm to the shelf, I see renewable energy playing a bigger role in organic food. We are providing farmers a means to reduce their energy costs and become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Farmers who participate in this loan fund contribute to a healthy, regenerative future for the next generation.”

Kirchoff recently spoke about renewable energy as a guest speaker at the Agri-Pulse Ag and Food Policy Summit.

Loans supplied to Organic Valley farmers through Clean Energy CU will be used for:

  • Solar electric systems to offset farm energy consumption
  • Farm energy efficiency improvements such as plate coolers, VFDs, LED lighting, insulation, ventilation and more
  • Geothermal systems and ground-source heat pumps for farm heating and cooling.

This is a great example of cooperation among cooperatives to pursue our aligned missions,” said Blake Jones, Volunteer Board chair of Clean Energy CU. “Organic Valley is already helping to protect the environment through regenerative and organic farming practices, and now they’re going one step further by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for their farmer-members. In addition to the environmental benefits, we’re also excited about helping family farmers throughout the USA to lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently owned farms.”

The two cooperatives are experienced with advancing renewable energy and are now combining forces to accelerate renewable energy installations on farms across rural America.

 

About Organic Valley

Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Founded in 1988, the cooperative represents nearly 1,800 farmers in 34 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and achieved $1.1 billion in 2019 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, egg and produce products. As a leader in pasture-based, regenerative organic farming, Organic Valley works with nature, not against it. For more information visit – https://www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also @OrganicValley on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Clean Energy Credit Union

Clean Energy Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial services cooperative that focuses exclusively on providing loans for clean energy and energy-saving projects such as electric vehicles, e-bikes, solar electric systems, geothermal heat pump systems, and other green home improvements. Clean Energy Credit Union is an online/digital-only and federally chartered credit union that serves its members throughout the USA. For more information visit – https://www.cleanenergycu.org

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Can We Pay Farmers to Store Carbon Emissions - by Marcello Rossi-CCM

Can We Pay Farmers to Store Carbon Emissions in Their Fields?

By Marcello Rossi, Climate & Capital Media

CCM Featured news for GreenMoney readersModern agriculture releases carbon into the air. But a new generation of startups is paying farmers to put it back into the ground.

Simply cutting CO2 emissions is not enough, says the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To slow global warming, we need to actually remove carbon from the sky. But how?

But as companies turn to the latest carbon-capture technologies, one low-tech solution has been gaining ground: Carbon farming, or regenerative agriculture, an approach rooted in millennia-old techniques that can pull carbon from the air and put it back into the soil. A new generation of startups is connecting carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to use regenerative techniques to offset it.

Paying Back the Carbon Debt

Plants are natural carbon sponges, absorbing CO2 during photosynthesis. But plowing and tilling oxidizes the soil, in turn releasing more CO2 than crops can naturally consume, causing what scientists call this imbalance “soil carbon debt.” A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that 12,000 years of agriculture has stripped away 8% of the earth’s carbon. Scientists estimate that adds up to a soil carbon debt of 133 billion tons.

Carbon farming relies on methods that allow crops to absorb more CO2 than is being released. These include no-till cultivation, in which the residue of previous harvests is left behind rather than being tilled away; cover cropping, in which a carpet of vegetation protects the soil; and rotational grazing, in which livestock only graze in one section of pasture at a time, allowing the rest of the field to regenerate.

These techniques have been around for thousands of years, but using them to fight global climate change is a relatively new phenomenon, and governments and nonprofits are beginning to incentivize farmers to adopt them. Montana-based nonprofit Western Sustainability Exchange runs a carbon payment program for ranchers in the state, and this year the state of California will award more than $22 million in grants to aspiring carbon farmers.

As in so many other areas of the environment, innovation has yielded a promising strategy. Creative investors are creating a new industry that connects carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to capture it.

Creative investors are creating a new industry that connects carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to capture it.

One standout is the Boston-based Indigo Ag, which has developed a marketplace in which companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint can purchase offsets from farmers. At launch, farmers will earn $15 per ton sequestered. Indigo Ag’s Terraton Initiative aims to fund enough regenerative agriculture to soak up one trillion tons of atmospheric carbon—roughly the same amount humans have emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Indigo Ag vice president Ed Smith says the Terraton Initiative already involves thousands of growers working more than 18 million acres of farmland. “Using farmlands to capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide is the only solution I know of that already exists, is affordable, and can be rolled out on a global scale,” he says.

Seattle-based social enterprise Nori is another startup investing in agriculture-based carbon offsets. Christophe Jospe, the company’s chief development officer, says it plans to use a blockchain-backed platform where carbon-emitters seeking to reduce emissions can pay farmers directly for the carbon they sequester. Nori won’t charge listing fees; farmers will get 100% of the value of the carbon removal, about $15 per ton. Initial outcomes are promising. During a pre-sale earlier this year, a Maryland farmer earned $115,000 for offsetting roughly 8,000 tons of carbon. More than 150 farmers working 500,000 acres are involved in the program, and Nori is planning another sale for later this year.

Another market backed by a consortium of food and agriculture giants that includes General Mills, McDonald’s, and Cargill, is currently running a pilot program that is scheduled to expand across the United States in 2022. Beyond the U.S., AustraliaCanada, the U.K, and France have existing or planned markets for agricultural-based carbon offsets.

Unknowns and challenges

Yet as millions of dollars flow into regenerative agriculture markets and initiatives, there remain doubts about whether the approach will actually deliver meaningful emissions reductions and slow climate change.

Global farmlands have the capacity to absorb and store billions of tons of carbon in the soil annually.

According to a report published last by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, global farmlands do have the capacity to absorb and store billions of tons of carbon in the soil annually. But getting there is a complicated process that depends on what happens on hundreds of millions of farms working with varying types of soilclimatic conditions, and a range of other variables, not all of which are clearly understood by scientists.

Gauging soil carbon variations is another issue. Recent technological advancements have helped bolster the credibility of soil carbon measurement, yet existing methods cannot accurately establish whether one particular farm is actually decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

These uncertainties compound the well-documented challenges in establishing reliable carbon offset programs. Studies have shown that such schemes, like cap-and-trade programs adopted by the E.U. and California, can vastly overestimate reductions, paying participants vast sums for carbon cuts that may never occur. Critics also argue these programs can provide large polluters with a massive loophole for emitters, allowing them to claim declining emissions while refraining from taking serious action to transition away from fossil fuels.

Environmental groups, investors and scientists are enthusiastic about innovative carbon capture processes in agriculture.

Environmental groups, investors, and scientists are enthusiastic about innovative carbon capture processes in agriculture, and the best way to sustain these new programs, says Gilles Dufrasne, a policy officer at Brussels-based Carbon Markets Watch, is to involve and connect local and national policymakers in a global effort that includes rigorous regulation, communication and transparency. “We need our policymakers and legislators to resist wishful thinking and establish rigorous rules and processes that deliver actual greenhouse gas reductions rather than shifting pollution around,” she argues. “But it takes cooperation and political will to do so, and I see very little of both today.”

The sad question: When will governments and political leaders embrace the imperative of cooperation in cooling the planet?

 

Article by Marcello Rossi, a science and environmental freelance journalist covering climate change and the human impact on the environment. His works appeared in National Geographic, The Economist, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, Nature Climate Change, Smithsonian, Outside, Quartz among other publications.

Article reprinted with permission. GreenMoney Journal and Climate & Capital Media have a strategic partnership. 

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