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
This Saturday, February 24, 2018 we’re participating in a panel discussion on Mitigation and emerging solutions for addressing the climate change issue, along with a number of other speakers.
The event is from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Great Hall at Cooper Union (30 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003), with limited seating, so please RSVP or sign up for the live stream link at MillennialsWorld.org.
Here’s the current program and list of speakers for the event:
Voices of a Generation – February 24, Event Speakers
Welcome: Joyce Freeling, President Millennials World
Keynote Panel: The World Millennials, Their Children, & Grandchildren Could Live In
- Sophie Kivlehan, Granddaughter, Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist
- James Hansen (Video) on the Science of Warming
- Nicole Crescimanno, Columbia University, Rising Sea Level
- Andrew Herrera, Ramapo College, Harsher Weather
- Annaisabele DeJesus, Heat Waves & Health
- Ariana Freitag, The Cooper Union, Deforestation, Species Extinctions, Ocean Acidification
- Sophie Schneider, The Cooper Union, Food Insecurity
- Anastasia Caulfield, Ramapo College, Climate Refugees
Actions: Fee & Dividend (Citizens’ Climate Lobby) – Children’s Trust Federal Law Suit
Mitigation & Solutions Underway – Developed World/Developing World
- Miriam Horn, Environmental Defense Fund, Author & Film Maker
- Jonathan Cloud, Director, NJPACE, Financing Renewable Energy for Communities
- Toby Cumberbatch, Founder, Center for Sustainable Engineering, Art and Architecture – Materials, Manufacturing and Minimalism (SEA2M3)
Pathways to Sustainability – Promise for the Future – The World Millennials Can Change
Students from Columbia University, Earth Institute:
- Sarah Ann Burns, Harnessing Natural Sources of Energy
- Megan Ross, Urban Sustainability
- Andrea Christina Ruiz, Regenerating Forests, Sustainable Food Production
- Miriam Nielsen, Communicating the Value of Sustainability to Society
- Jesse Thorson, The Need for New Narratives
A New Social Compact – Shift to Long-Term Thinking & Responsibility to Successor Generations
Art & Design Charrette – Transforming Statements in Graphics (Millennial Visions)
- Mike Ryan
- Patrick Schlitzer
- Danny Castillo
Announcement of Step-into-the-Future Social Media Competition
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.
CRCS will be moving in several new directions this year, which we think will be of interest to a wider audience than just those of us interested in financing clean energy. We’ve been focusing more on communities in the past year, and on the values and vision that led to our mission, to assist local communities and neighborhoods to become more resilient in the face of the widening impacts of a changing climate.
We are proposing to work with one or two towns in New Jersey on their revitalization and self-renewal. Culture actually holds the key to greater local resilience, alongside the physical transformation of communities into eco-communities. And organization is what’s needed to transform culture. We are planning to create “civic cooperatives” that will lead these communities into a positive self-generating future. Many communities are today experiencing decline, or struggling to ignite a self-renewal, within the broader context of the need for a world for a world that shifts carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. The cooperative model has proven itself to be more enduring, more beneficial, and often more valuable to communities than the conventional marketplace business model.
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.”
The theme of this year’s New Jersey PACE Summit is “PACE: what’s possible for New Jersey?” The subtitle gives part of the answer: “Resiliency • Clean Energy • Jobs”— these are the major elements of the story, that will be explored at the conference. And there’s more to it as well — PACE can provide regenerative community benefits, support new technologies, and foster new approaches to the global challenges of our times.
PACE, which stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” is redefined in NJ’s new amending legislation to include “the purchase, lease, or installation, or any combination thereof, of renewable energy systems or the energy produced by such systems, energy efficiency improvements, water conservation projects, flood resistant construction projects, hurricane resistant construction projects, storm shelter projects, or safe room projects, undertaken by property owners on properties within a municipality.”
Posted in Carbon Pollution, Climate Change, CO2 Mitigation, Community, CRCS, Energy, Events, Global Issues, New Jersey, News, NJPACE, Sustainability
Steve Welzer, EcovillageNJ.org
There is a featured article today on the editorial page of the New York Times about how cohousing might be a desirable option for single people. It ends, though, by saying: “. . . homes that combine privacy with community and sociability . . . that combination sounds pretty attractive for anybody . . .”
The article should have mentioned that there is no such option, yet, in the whole New York metropolitan area! That’s why we’re confident that, if we can get our ecovillage built, there will be considerable demand to purchase units and become part of such a unique community.
Here are excerpts from the New York Times article:
While many single people are quite happy to live alone, it’s not always easy. When Kate Bolick first lived in her own apartment, she said, “it felt unbelievably exciting to be simply living by myself and master of my own domain. But then maybe at around the seven-year mark it started to feel kind of repetitive and lonely.”
CRCS and New Jersey PACE Executive Director Jonathan Cloud will be one of the speakers at the NJ Appleseed event on “Embedding Sustainable Development & Land Use into Public Policy” on March 23 at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, NJ. The day-long event, featuring Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop along with a line-up of other prominent speakers, will address a variety of timely issues related to sustainable development in New Jersey:
Development in New Jersey is a hot-button issue, with strong feelings on both sides. Some believe it is out of control, and cite strip malls springing up almost overnight, and mass numbers of townhomes covering the once-pristine suburban hillsides. Others argue that development brings jobs and other tangible benefits, and is key to the State’s economic future. Like it or not, development in New Jersey is here to stay. But can development be a force for good? Can we lessen the environmental impact, or better yet, reinforce overall sustainability and resiliency in New Jersey communities, create more affordable homes for our citizens, and stabilize neighborhoods? At this New Jersey Appleseed Public Policy Forum we will explore efficient and ethical land use policies, discuss private sector concerns and ways to address opposition, focus on how implementing ‘green’ can impact the bottom line, look at the ways that affordable housing can help create sustainable, safe, and strong communities, and examine strategies to reduce risk from new policies, among other important issues.
What we’re doing fits within the framework of “whole systems development.” It is made possible by the new levels of human coordination and communication in the digital age — what some people have called the emergence of “the global brain” — and by the possibility of pragmatic and sustainable solutions to human problems.
We are, in our own way, an expression of the most significant event so far in the course of human history, where we graduate to a new level of integrity, responsibility, and interrelationship with ourselves, with other species, and with the universe as a whole. If we’re aware of it, if it’s happening here, it’s likely also happening in many other places and contexts on the Earth. But it’s significant either way: whether we’re leading or joining the parade does not matter as much as the fact of our participation and our stand.
We have a number of ideas that we want to contribute to society, and we want that contribution to be recognized and rewarded in a way that’s proportionate to the value that’s created, so we’ve come up with the idea of a Contribution Economy. This economy would be fueled by an alternative global currency, Commons Credits (CC), awarded according to rules established and continuously updated by a collaborative of the best minds of our era.