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European Clean Energy Innovators to Get €100 Million

From left: Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the Commission for the Energy Union; billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and chair of Breakthrough Energy Ventures Bill Gates; European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, October 17, 2018 Brussels, Belgium (Photo courtesy European Commission) Posted for media use.

From left: Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the Commission for the Energy Union; billionaire co-founder of Microsoft and chair of Breakthrough Energy Ventures Bill Gates; European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, October 17, 2018 Brussels, Belgium (Photo courtesy European Commission) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 18, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knows that €100 million can fund a lot of climate-friendly, clean energy research by European innovators, so as founding chairman of a new investment fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Gates is collaborating with the European Commission to provide that support.

Under Gates’ leadership, Breakthrough Energy and the European Commission Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish Breakthrough Energy Europe (BEE), a joint investment fund to help innovative European companies develop and bring “radically new clean energy technologies” to market.

Breakthrough Energy Europe links public funding with long-term risk capital so that clean energy research and innovation can be brought to market more quickly and efficiently.

With a capitalization of €100 million (US$115.2 million), the fund will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy efficiency in the areas of electricity, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings.

Gates said in Brussels, where he met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, “We need new technologies to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Europe has demonstrated valuable leadership by making impressive investments in R&D.”

“The scientists and entrepreneurs who are developing innovations to address climate change need capital to build companies that can deliver those innovations to the global market,” said Gates. “Breakthrough Energy Europe is designed to provide that capital.”

Breakthrough Energy Europe is expected to be operational in 2019. Half the equity will come from Breakthrough Energy and the other half from InnovFin, risk-sharing financial instruments funded through Horizon 2020, the EU’s current research and innovation program.

InnovFin, EU Finance for Innovators, is a joint financing initiative launched by the European Investment Bank Group with the European Commission under Horizon 2020.

The agreement signed Wednesday supports the Commission’s desire to lead the fight against climate change and to deliver on the Paris Agreement, giving a strong signal to capital markets and investors that the global transition to a modern, clean economy is here to stay.

President Juncker said, “Europe must continue to take the lead in tackling climate change head on, at home and across the world. We must push for the modernization of Europe’s economy and industry in order to meet the ambitious targets put in place to protect our planet.”

“Pooling public and private investment in new, innovative clean energy technology is key to enabling long-term solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Juncker. “If Europe is to have a future that can guarantee the well-being of all its citizens, it will need to be climate-friendly and sustainable.”

The EU views itself as playing a decisive role in building the coalition of ambition making the adoption of the Paris Agreement possible in December 2015. is a global leader on climate action.

The Commission has already brought forward all legislative proposals to deliver on the EU’s commitment to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40 percent by 2030.

Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the Commission for the Energy Union, said, “The scale and speed of what is needed to reach our climate goals require innovative thinking and bold action. Not only is this new public-private investment vehicle being set up in record time, it will also serve as an example of us joining forces to accelerate breakthrough innovation in Europe.”

Beyond updating and strengthening its energy and climate legislation, the EU is developing enabling measures that will stimulate investment, create jobs, empower and modernize industries.

The Commission is currently working on a long-term strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gases. The proposal will be published in November, ahead of the UN’s annual climate summit in Katowice, Poland.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research, science and innovation, observed, “We are delivering on our commitment to stimulate public-private cooperation in financing clean energy innovation. The €100 million fund will target EU innovators and companies with the potential to achieve significant and lasting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

On the margins of the COP21 climate conference in Paris in 2015, Mission Innovation was launched as an international partnership to accelerate clean energy innovation and provide a long-term global response to climate challenge.

By joining Mission Innovation, 23 countries and the European Commission, on behalf of the EU, pledged to double their clean energy research and innovation funding to about $30 billion a year by 2021.

Also at the Paris summit, from which the Paris Agreement on climate emerged, a group of investors from 10 countries announced their intention to drive innovation from laboratories to the market by investing long-term capital at unprecedented levels in early-stage technology development in Mission Innovation participating countries. It was the genesis of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Featured Image: Renault’s electric car, the Zoe, in Sicily. Renault is supplying 200 Renault ZOEs for the rental fleet of Sicily by Car, a leading Italian car-hire firm. 2017 (Photo courtesy Renault) Posted for media 


Philanthropists Pledge US$4 Billion for Climate Change Battle

The Ferguson Fire burns in California's Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park. August 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region 5) Public domain

The Ferguson Fire burns in California’s Sierra National Forest and Yosemite National Park. August 8, 2018. (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region 5) Public domain

By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 24, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Philanthropic foundations from across the United States and around the world have just pledged $4 billion over the next five years to fight climate change – the largest climate-related philanthropic commitment ever made.

In a joint statement, the 29 contributing foundations said, “As climate philanthropists, we are committed to supporting the vast array of solutions required to tackle this global problem. We know that every moment, and every dollar, counts. Which is why we are proud to announce today the joint commitment of more than $4 billion over the next five years to combat climate change.”

“We know that it is only a down payment,” the philanthropists declared. “Everyone has a role to play—and philanthropy must be prepared to invest many billions more.”

The announcement, made at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on September 14, is a broad global commitment to accelerate proven climate and clean-energy strategies, spur innovation and support organizations everywhere working to protect their communities and the air they breathe.

“Philanthropists can and must work together as catalysts to engage governments, the business community and NGOs to accelerate progress on climate change,” said Nat Simons, co-founder of the Sea Change Foundation. “The multi-billion dollar commitment announced today is only a down payment. Together we’ll need to invest billions more. And soon.”

The contributing foundations are working to form new global coalitions of philanthropic investors focused on high leverage issues like sustainable land use. The goal is to demonstrate their viability and enable investors of all sizes and capacities to participate for maximum impact.

“Now, more than ever, philanthropy has to step up and go big. The health of our children, our communities, and our economic future literally depends on it,” write MacArthur Foundation executives Debra Schwartz, managing director, impact investments, and Susan Phinney Silver, mission investing director, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, in an article on the MacArthur Foundation website.

“If we are going to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, we can only afford to emit about another 600 Gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. At current rates, that will take about 14 years (or perhaps a decade longer if we aim for 2 degrees). In either scenario, urgent action is needed,” write Schwartz and Silver.

The $4 billion worth of investments will support an array of strategies, with an emphasis on those addressing the five challenge areas addressed at the Global Climate Action Summit – healthy energy systems, inclusive economic growth, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship and transformative climate investments.

“The value of these investment strategies are clear in three critical areas that benefit from philanthropic capital that can be flexible and risk-tolerant: renewable energy, energy efficiency in the built environment, and sustainable forestry and land use,” write Schwartz and Silver.

Over the past 20 years, the nonprofit sector, supported by philanthropists, have broadened access to low-cost, reliable wind and solar energy; designed policies that are revolutionizing the integration of a new generation of electric vehicles; and provided critical support to countries working to meet the requirements of the historic Paris Agreement on climate.

“Tackling global climate change requires partnership and collaboration, and philanthropy has an important role to play,” said Patricia Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“We’re proud to support efforts that are making incredible local progress around the world, but there’s so much more that needs to be done,” said Harris. “This landmark pledge is a key step to making even greater impact, together.”

The philanthopists say that by working together, sharing knowledge, welcoming new partners, and harnessing the actions of governments, the private sector and everyday citizens, the philanthropic community can be a catalyst in the fight against our world’s greatest threat.

Much of their $4 billion investment will support local organizations working on the front lines of climate change who are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting carbon sinks such as the Amazon rainforest. They want the funding to “propel the expansion of successful local efforts to solve the climate crisis and allow those most affected by the climate crisis to shape the solutions to it.”

“Each day brings new evidence of climate change affecting lives – from extreme weather events, to increased food insecurity, to tragic impacts on human health,” said Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

“We see the suffering that a steadily warming planet is causing to people around the world, but we also see hope,” Hampton said. “As philanthropists, we are committed to doing our part and to engaging on climate change like never before.”

“This initiative is a breakthrough, and very welcomed by civil society. Political leaders need to feel the pressure from their constituencies to prioritize action on climate change,” said Wael Hmaidan, executive director

the nonprofit Climate Action Network International. “By supporting a strong base of mobilizers, influencers and change agents in local communities around the world, this commitment can help accomplish that.”

Funders contributing to this effort include: Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bullitt Foundation, Sir Christopher Hohn and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, Grantham Foundation, Grove Foundation, Growald Family Fund, George Gund Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Ivey Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPB Foundation, KR Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Dee & Richard Lawrence and OIF, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, McKinney Family Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Oak Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pisces Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Sea Change Foundation, Turner Foundation and Yellow Chair Foundation.

The $4 billion from philanthropic foundations can accomplish a great deal, but it is not the only investment being made by the private sector to mitigate global warming.

Investors Fight Funding Shortfall

The Investor Agenda, also launched at the Global Climate Action Summit, will support investors in accelerating and scaling-up the actions that are critical to tackling climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement across four key focus areas: investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure, and policy advocacy.

Showcasing investor leadership on climate change will be used to inspire even more generous commitments and building on existing momentum.

Momentum is already evident, with 392 investors with US$32 trillion in assets collectively under management using The Investor Agenda to highlight climate action they are already taking and making new commitments.

To date, 120 investors are pursuing new and existing investments in low carbon and climate resilient portfolios, funds, strategies or assets such as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; phasing out investments in coal; and integrating climate change into portfolio analysis and decision-making.

“The emergence of The Investor Agenda reflects the mounting urgency among the global investor community to address the greatest challenge of our time through measurable and transparent actions,” said Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of Danish pension fund PKA with over $42 billion in assets under management, and chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.

At least 345 institutional investors with US$30 trillion in assets are urging governments to implement the Paris Agreement and enhance their climate policy ambitions by 2020. They are calling for: phase out of thermal coal power worldwide, greater investment in the low-carbon transition and improving climate-related financial disclosures.

Investor disclosure highlights the more than 60 investors committed to reporting in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommendations.

Corporate engagement highlights 650 investors with US$87 trillion in assets backing the Carbon Disclosure Project’s environmental disclosure request; and 296 investors from 29 countries with US$31 trillion in assets that are signatories to Climate Action 100+. This investor-led initiative engages the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters and asks them to limit emissions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), supports these investor actions.

“Investors are showing great leadership to promote climate action in multiple fronts. Their efforts to meet the shortfall in the financial resources required to deliver the Paris Agreement goals, and further building on engagement with high-emitting sectors are a valuable contribution,” said Espinosa. “Yet we believe many more opportunities exist.”


Featured Image:  Human encroachment of Kenya’s Mau Forest by local communities has degraded the forest. Members of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya pambio.org/green-print-project are planting trees to restore the Mau Forest, Kenya’s largest water tower and the region’s rainfall catchment area. September 20, 2018 (Photo by Antony Odhiambo / Global Landscapes Forum) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Maxim

COP23 Fertilizes Climate-Smart Agriculture

COP23LeadersHighLevel

COP23 leaders, from left: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa of Brazil; President Emmanuel Macron, France; Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji and COP 23 president; Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany; and UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the High-Level Segment of the conference, November 15, 2017 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, November 21, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – New commitments and initiatives in the agriculture and water sectors were announced as nearly 200 countries gathered at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) hosted by the government of Fiji in Bonn, November 6-17.

Delegates made concrete progress on turning the historic 2015 Paris Agreement into action on the ground across the world, ahead of next year’s UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

COP23 delegates aimed at motivating greater climate action by public and private stakeholders as the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, enables countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels.

About one degree of that rise has already happened, increasing the pressure on governments and the private sector to progress further and faster to cut the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.

For the first time in the history of UN climate negotiations, governments reached an agreement on agriculture that will help countries develop and implement new strategies to both reduce emissions from agriculture and build resilience to the effects of climate change.

“Agriculture is a key factor for the sustainability of rural areas, the responsibility for food security and its potential to offer climate change solutions is enormous,” said Christian Schmidt, Germany’s federal minister of food and agriculture.

Investing more quickly and broadly in agricultural climate action and to support the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions and protect people against climate change, sector leaders and experts said.

New COP23 initiatives include a US$400 million fund established by the Government of Norway and the corporation Unilever for public and private investment in business models that combine investments in high productivity agriculture, smallholder inclusion and forest protection.

The European Investment Bank will provide US$75 million for a new US$405 million investment program by the Water Authority of Fiji. The plan will strengthen resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment following Cyclone Winston, the world’s second strongest storm ever recorded, which hit Fiji in February 2016.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed up to free US$37.6 million of GCF grant financing in the US$243.1 million Saïss Water Conservation Project to make Moroccan agriculture more resilient.

The nonprofit World Resources Institute announced a landmark US$2.1 billion of private investment to restore degraded lands in Latin America and the Caribbean through Initiative 20×20.

“Climate change is a fundamental threat to the Sustainable Development Goal 2 that aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition,” said José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  at a high-level event on hunger at the conference.

“To achieve SDG2 and effectively respond to climate change, we require a transformation of our agriculture sectors and food systems,” he said.

According to FAO’s “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017” report, hunger has grown for the first time in over a decade, mainly due to conflicts and climate change. An estimated 815 million people are now hungry.

Extreme climate impacts come down hard on small-scale farmers and pastoralists as well as fishing and forest communities, who still provide the bulk of the planet’s food.

Supporting these communities with innovative solutions to reduce their emissions and protect their communities meets many of the objectives of every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Over 70 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. They are also the most vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition, natural resource scarcity, conflict, and climate impacts.

“The rural poor are part of a comprehensive response to climate change,” said da Silva. “They are key agents of change who need to be strengthened in their roles as stewards of biodiversity, natural resources and vital ecosystem services.”

Requests to direct more resources to the agriculture sector as a key strategy to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were made during Agriculture Action Day November 10.

“Countries now have the opportunity to transform their agricultural sectors to achieve food security for all through sustainable agriculture and strategies that boost resource-use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity and natural resources, and combat the impacts of climate change,” said René Castro, FAO assistant-director general.

In the livestock sector, for example, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

At COP23, the FAO released a new “Sourcebook on Climate-Smart Agriculture,” which recommends scaling up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, spurring public-private partnerships, strengthening a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue, investing in knowledge and information, and building capacity to address barriers to climate action.

The book features knowledge and stories about on-the-ground projects to guide policymakers and program managers to make the agricultural sectors more sustainable and productive, while contributing to food security and lower carbon intensity.

The COP23 meeting agreed that land needs to be managed in ways to increase soil carbon, particularly in grasslands, and that robust protocols for assessing and monitoring carbon stocks need to be developed with stakeholders.

Rehabilitating agricultural and degraded soils can remove up to 51 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, according to some estimates.

For the livestock sector, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

Tom Driscoll, director of conservation policy with the U.S. National Farmers Union, says, “Farming is one of the few professions with the ability to not only reduce ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, but to also remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. National Farmers Union supports policies and programs that maximize agriculture’s GHG elimination potential by offering value to farmers for either climate-smart or emissions-reducing and carbon-sinking production and conservation practices.”

Cap-and-trade programs, which limit ongoing emissions from major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, are one means of offering farmers value for climate-smart practices.

Cap-and-trade programs can drive emissions reductions where they can happen in the most cost-effective manner, and farmers can often achieve emissions reductions and sequester atmospheric greenhouse gases for less money than the emitters these programs primarily regulate, says Driscoll on the NFU website.

The state of California has implemented a cap-and-trade program that allows for the creation and transfer-for-value of offset credits that meet regulatory criteria. Regulated entities may meet up to eight percent of their triennial compliance requirements by purchasing these credits.

In California, each credit must be quantified using a compliance offset protocol approved by the California Air Resources Board. Currently, ARB will approve credits some U.S. farmers create by capturing and destroying methane from manure management systems.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), an organizer of COP23’s Agriculture Action day, announced that the Coalition will work in the next few years to create the conditions for greater agricultural climate action.

The voluntary partnership of more than 100 governments, intergovernmental organizations, businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations aims to help give countries the confidence to set realistic yet ambitious targets through the next revision of their national climate plans – the Nationally Determined Contributions.

“Agriculture is a large source of powerful greenhouse gases like methane and other short-lived climate pollutants but has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in our lifetime, that’s why we support and advocate for countries to improve their livestock emissions inventories,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the CCAC Secretariat.

CCAC partners signed onto the Coalition’s Bonn Communiqué which prioritizes initiatives to reduce methane and black carbon emissions from agriculture and municipal solid waste.

These initiatives support broader efforts to reduce air pollution, end hunger, and build sustainable cities and communities, while helping to limit global warming.

James Shaw, New Zealand Minister for Climate Change, said he was pleased with the Communiqué’s focus on agriculture as it was a large source of his country’s greenhouse gases.

“We hope this encourages partners to develop policies to reduce emissions from agriculture, while at the same time improving the productivity, resilience and profitability of farmers,” said Shaw.

Other agriculture-based solutions for addressing climate change were also presented at COP23. Discussions involved people from governments, civil society, the private sector, small scale and young farmers centered on livestock, traditional agriculture systems, water, soil, food loss and waste, and integrated landscape management.

Among the recommended actions and initiatives were to:

  • Scale up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, and use them in a catalytic manner. Climate finance flows continue to favor mitigation over adaptation, and focus overwhelmingly on energy systems and infrastructure. These imbalances should be addressed.
  • Incentivize public-private partnerships. Strong dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to ensure alignment between public policy and private sector investment decisions in agriculture and throughout the entire food system.
  • Strengthen a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue towards more integrated approaches to landscape management. This will require enhanced coordination of policy and climate action across multiple public and private entities.
  • Invest in knowledge and information. Additional analyses are needed to better identify the institutional barriers and market failures that are inhibiting broader adoption of climate-resilient and low-emissions agricultural practices in individual countries, regions and communities.
  • Build capacity to address barriers to implement climate action. Agricultural producers require additional capacities to understand the climate risks and vulnerabilities they face, and respond accordingly.

In the water sector, most national climate plans with an adaptation component prioritize action on water, yet financing would need to triple to US$295 billion per year to meet such targets, said experts at COP23.

“Sustainable use of water for multiple purposes must remain a way of life and needs to be at the center of building resilient cities and human settlements and ensuring food security in a climate change context,” said Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, president of the Women for Water Partnership.

The international water community co-signed what it called a “nature based solution declaration” to encourage the use of natural systems in managing healthy water supplies.

Around 40 percent of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2050, accelerating migration and triggering onflict, while some regions could lose up to six percent of their economic output, unless water is better managed, warned Verhoef-Cohen.

She said, “Involving both women and men in decision making and integrated water resources initiatives leads to better sustainability, governance and efficiency.”


2-DAY GRANT

Featured Image: G.H. MUMM champagne 2017 harvest in champagne vineyard near Verzenay, France, September 7, 2017 (Photo by Intercontinental Hong Kong) Creative Commons license via Flickr