The Climate Crisis and What We’re Doing About It
Financing the Transition to a Regenerative Economy
With the Aim of Restoring the Climate and the Earth
Download PDF version of our year-end letter here
Executive Director’s Year-End Letter 2019
“Being alive right now means rethinking boundaries, pushing on the walls of your imagination. It means feeling around in this world for another one.” (Dan Zak, “Everything is Not Going to Be Okay: How to Live with Constant Reminders that the Earth Is in Trouble,” Washington Post)
Dear Friends and Supporters,
2019 has been a pretty tumultuous year for us, including both substantial achievements and disappointing setbacks. The good news is that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation is on its way in New Jersey, with both the Legislature and the Governor endorsing some version of this long-awaited financing tool. We expect PACE to be operational in 2020, and it could be as early as first quarter.
The first version of PACE legislation was introduced and passed into law in 2011; unfortunately it was flawed, and the Christie Administration took advantage of these flaws to block any meaningful action. Our organization, operating as New Jersey PACE, has been seeking to amend this law for more than seven years, during which time we co-authored at least three prior versions that were rejected. While in retrospect it seems unreal, there were good reasons to believe that PACE could be implemented in each of these years, despite the resistance of the banking industry and of the Governor’s staff at the time.
Evolving and Expanding the PACE Model
But since PACE is still not available in New Jersey (and many other jurisdictions), we continue to seek demonstration projects for the two alternative clean energy financing approaches that we have developed in partnership with structured finance experts, including a major NJ social impact investment fund. Once successfully piloted, these “PACE/Alternatives,”* as we’ve called them, including our New InterCreditor Clean Energy (NICCE, pronounced “nice”) and Deed-registered Renewables & Energy Efficiency Measures (DREEM), will provide commercial property owners anywhere in the US with access to PACE-like financing, regardless of whether PACE is allowed in their jurisdiction.
Posted in Climate Change, Cohousing, Community, Contribute, CRCS, Energy, G4CM, Global Issues, New Jersey, News, NJPACE, Nonprofit Activities, Regenerative Development, Sustainability, Transformation
CRCS (our full legal name is Center for Regenerative Community Solutions, a NJ Nonprofit Corporation) is now also Possible Planet, and the larger part of our work is maintained and updated at www.PossiblePlanet.org. Apologies to several who have left feedback here but have not received an answer. (I have just discovered these entries, and plan to respond to them.)
Much of what is retained here is of archival interest only. But everything we’re now working on has grown out of the thinking and action, reflected here, about the development of solutions that help to strengthen the regenerative capacity of communities. We have principally focused on innovative financing methods for the transition to a clean economy, an economy that is sustainable over the long term, restores rather than damages the Earth, and provides a better living environment for everyone. This led us to initially concentrate on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), and create New Jersey PACE as an alternate identity, and subsequently on the development of “PACE Alternatives” that don’t require state legislation or municipal approval but can be done within existing contract law.
Along the way, we acquired three other projects as a “fiscal sponsor,” projects that represent further approaches to creating a more livable, healthful, and self-sustaining future. Two are related to the development of cohousing and ecovillage neighborhoods, Ecovillage New Jersey, and the Ecovillagers Alliance. The third is a global monetary policy proposal, to address the risk of a catastrophic shock to financial and economic systems (and the concurrent damage to the planet’s life support systems), called Global 4C (which stands for “complementary currencies for climate change”). The basic proposal is to issue a monetary reward for carbon sequestered or abated anywhere in the world, to anyone able to demonstrate that they are reducing emissions or withdrawing carbon from the atmosphere. Issuing such a reward requires only a very modest expansion of the money supply, accompanied by the creation of a greatly expanded economic sector devoted to cleaning up the mess we’ve already created. Currently we’re working on a case study to demonstrate how this can be done in the field of regenerative agriculture, working with various combinations of rock dust, biochar, and compost, to develop the most effective ways of sequestering CO2 in the soil where it supports the natural growth of the crops and livestock we need to survive.
What this leads to more broadly is an examination of what’s needed, ecologically, and how to invest what we need to get there. Financing ecosystem restoration, clean energy, and sustainable human habitation are all aspects of this that offer almost unlimited opportunity for a new generation of businesses, cooperatives, and community financial institutions to create sustainable growth, i.e., economic growth that restores, strengthens, and maintains natural systems instead of trashing them. So follow us, and join us, at PossiblePlanet.org.
Posted in Carbon Pollution, Climate Change, CO2 Mitigation, Cohousing, Community, CRCS, Energy, Events, G4CM, New Jersey, Nonprofit Activities, Regenerative Development, Sustainability, Transformation
We’re in the processing of “re-branding” ourselves as Possible Planet (www.possibleplanet.org, of course). So what does this re-branding mean, and why are we doing it?
By “we” we mean here the Center for Regenerative Community Solutions, our 501(c)(3) umbrella entity under which we house a number of our own and others’ projects. These include not only global and local projects, but pretty much also every level in between. So not only are we concerned with what’s needed for “A Possible Planet” (the title of our forthcoming book), but we’re also working on Possible New Jersey (www.possiblenj.org) and Possible Bound Brook (www.possibleboundbrook.org) as examples of the application of what is really the paradigm-shifting model behind Possible Planet.
A paper entitled “Global 4C: World Monetary Union for Climate Change Mitigation,” by Delton B. Chen, Jonathan Cloud, Joel van der Beek, has been posted to the site of the 2015 Earth Systems Governance in Canberra, Australia, December 14-16. Focusing on the potential for using an innovative method of financing carbon mitigation and sequestration, the paper examines the basis for addressing economically the multiple challenges facing the planet, and the underlying causes of the failure of markets to incorporate the “externalities” that are now beginning to harm all of us.
As the paper notes at the outset,
“The future viability of our civilization is in serious doubt because of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) , chronic degradation of ecosystems , and risk of nuclear war . These harms and risks are related to unchecked economic growth, fossil fuel usage, resource consumption, and militarization. Civilization is evidently in need of systemic change to avoid collapse and to build restorative networks .”
The paper offers a more complete economic framework for environmental management, and a new public policy for climate mitigation that has not yet been considered under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was not discussed at COP21 in Paris. The paper offers a roadmap to strong decarbonization of the global economy, even when orthodox policies are unable to deliver due to political delay.
The ESG conference, subtitled ‘Democracy and Resilience in the Anthropocene,’ is the 6th in a series of conferences on Earth Systems Governance, aimed at fostering “a better understanding of the vital questions of legitimacy, accountability, transparency, and democracy” in finding a way to be responsible for the vitality of a living planet. Previous conferences have been held in Amsterdam (2009), Fort Collins (2011), Lund (2012), Tokyo (2013) and Norwich (2014).
You can download the conference program here: ESG_Canberra_Program_Final_Web.
The Global4C proposal, for which CRCS serves as policy host, will be featured as part of a panel on “Green Economies, Consumption & Growth.”
Our main focus at this point is building out New Jersey PACE, an open-market platform for commercial PACE deals anywhere in the state. The critical amending legislation (A2579/S1510) passed at the end of June; we are now waiting for the front office review and the Governor’s signature. In the meantime we reviewing and revising parts of our web presence to make them more accessible and self-evident. We anticipate a significant backlog of projects once the law is signed, and we want to make the process as easy as possible for everyone to understand and implement.
At the same time, CRCS as an engine of change is continuing to evolve new projects – some our own, built on or around the PACE model; and some from others, such as Dr. Delton Chen’s Global4C project, which is attracting worldwide attention. We’re gradually getting into various models of “fiscal sponsorship” for organizations and projects that we see as compatible with or related to our mission. In most cases — such as our Regenerative Cohousing initiative — our goal is to bring these projects in-house, under our own umbrella; but in a couple of instances we may support fledgling organizations until they get their own IRS exemption.
Finally, we’re exploring further opportunities for individuals to profit from the transition to renewable energy — from the bulk purchase of green energy, the installation of solar with no upfront cost to the property owner, to the use of PACE in underserved communities and distressed neighborhoods. Stay tuned.
Hosted by CRCS, Dr. Delton Chen has unveiled a new web site — www.Global4C.org — explaining his proposal to use a new global complementary currency to reward carbon mitigation and sequestration. The proposal was recognized in last year’s MIT Climate Colab contest, and is explained in detail on the web site. Some notes on the project:
- The idea for the Global 4C Mitigation proposal was initiated by Dr. Delton Chen in June 2013 at Al Gore’s Climate Reality workshop in Istanbul, Turkey, and was conceived on the intuition that a new currency should be developed to globally finance greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Dr. Chen devised the theoretical framework while traveling in Eastern Europe and Central America in 2013.
The climate deal fleshed out in Lima, Peru, is that all countries can set their own climate goals [1,2,3]. But will this be effective in preventing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions? Very unlikely, writes Delton Chen (Geo-Hydrologist, Civil Engineer):
During the past 250 years of industrial and technological revolution, the primary catalyst for innovation and the fundamental driver of economic growth has been the availability of fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil and gas). To avoid extremely dangerous climate change, the global economic system must be re-organised at a fundamental level, and the new order must include a social transformation that grows exponentially; otherwise the required mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be too slow to avoid a climate catastrophe.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was put into effect in 1994, and civilisation officially acknowledged that it was ‘addicted’ to fossil fuels. The ultimate aim of the UNFCCC is to prevent “…dangerous human interference with the climate system”. The recent UNFCCC’s meeting in Lima, Peru, provides the latest update on civilisation’s de-carbonisation program, but the results of the Lima meeting signify global action will be further delayed given that nations are only obliged to make voluntary commitments.