TBLI Weekly - October 3rd, 2024


TBLI Weekly - October 3rd, 2023

Your weekly guide to Sustainable Investment

This week's TBLI event:

Dr. Astrid J. Scholz is co-founder of Armillaria, a systems lab for equitable economies. Armillaria and its partners are building global, distributed, democratic infrastructure for mobilizing the knowledge, people, and capital required to solve today’s wicked problems (see https://trillions.global). Astrid leads Armillaria’s impact finance practice, and is a key contributor to its innovation liquidity and participatory governance work streams.

In this TBLI Talk we'll discuss:
  • What if we made impact finance responsive to the needs of entrepreneurs and communities living on the frontlines of the polycrisis we are facing?
  • Applying humanity centered design and Design Justice principles, we can reimagineer entire capital ecosystems to identify the most powerful interventions that help unlock capital to scale transformative solutions
  • We’ll talk about case studies around closing the racial wealth gap in the United States; fostering the ownership economy; Islamic finance; food sovereignty; and marine conservation.

TBLI Better World Prize voting deadline - October 31st

Vote for the TBLI Better World Prize & receive a free pass to any upcoming virtual TBLI event
send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the event you wish to attend

TBLI Retreat 2023 was a great success

We are very inspired by our last TBLI retreat in the magical Glen House castle in Scotland that we organise a new get together for 6-9 September 2024.

Save the date This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to join!

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Through our Capital Connect service, TBLI researches potential investors and make introductions to the most appropriate investors using our CRM system with curated selections and introductions. Capital Connect offers a direct way to tap into TBLI’s 25-year-old network of impact investors and reach your ideal potential investors through our matchmaking algorithm.

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Abandoned Lands: A Hidden Resource for Restoring Biodiversity


By: FRED PEARCE - YaleEnvironment360

Abandoned farmland has been increasing, with a billion acres — an area half the size of Australia — lost globally. Ecologists are increasingly pointing to the potential of these lands and of degraded forests as neglected resources for rewilding and for capturing carbon.

Gergana Daskalova was nine months old when she was taken in by her grandparents in their small village in Bulgaria. It was soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and her parents had left for the city after the closure of the village’s state-run collective farm.

She grew up in a countryside emptying of people and with large areas of farmland lying abandoned. She eventually left too, traveling abroad and forging an academic career as an ecologist. But she never forgot her home village, where her childhood saw an ecological transformation paralleling the social one. As people left Tyurkmen, in Plovdiv province in southern Bulgaria, nature returned with a vengeance.

“Over the last three decades, I have seen Tyurkmen change as houses were abandoned, gardens engulfed by vegetation, and birds like pheasants and hoopoes became a more common sight than people,” she says. “The brambles are so thick, stepping on them feels like a trampoline. Looking back, it was these changes that inspired me to study ecology.”

But while most ecologists prefer to study pristine places, Daskalova has become one of a rising group of researchers focusing on the previously neglected ecology of abandoned land. She believes these neglected and often despised new wildernesses could be a crucial part of the planet’s salvation. If only we noticed and tended them, she says, they offer great opportunities for meeting both climate and biodiversity targets.

Abandonment, she says, is a “silent driver of biodiversity change. Yet there is still so much we don’t know about its imprint on the planet.” From her current research base at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, Daskalova is working to change that, both globally and back home, where Bulgaria is a case study in the impact of population decline.

In the past 35 years, the country has seen the fastest decline in population of any country in the world — a 28 percent drop. Most of that exodus has been from the countryside, where for the past two years Daskalova has been researching 30 Bulgarian villages, including Tyurkmen, to chart in detail how nature is colonizing the abandoned land.

The scale of recent global farmland abandonment is a staggering and still largely untold story. We are used to seeing humans colonize nature. In the tropics that continues. But elsewhere the reverse is happening. Globally, an area of land half the size of Australia, around a billion acres, has recently been relinquished, Daskalova and Johannes Kamp of the University of Göttingen in Germany reported in Science in May.

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Type of storm that drenched New York is up to 20% wetter due to climate crisis

By: - The Guardian

Rapid attribution study finds storm 10-20% wetter after city experienced a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours on Friday

The unmistakable influence of the climate crisis helped cause New York City to be inundated by a month’s worth of rain within just a few hours on Friday, scientists have warned, amid concerns over how well the city is prepared for severe climate shocks.

A new rapid attribution study, released by scientists in Europe, has found that the type of storm seen on Friday is now 10-20% wetter than it would have been in the previous century, because of climate change.

Flash flooding soaked large parts of the US’s largest city, turning roads into rivers, following intense rainfall that broke records. John F Kennedy international airport measured 8in of rainfall in one day, the most since records began, while Brooklyn received a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours. People had to be rescued from swamped basement apartments, subway and bus services were canceled and sewage backed up in overwhelmed pipes.

Climate scientists have stressed that such pounding rainfall is a symptom of a warming planet, with a hotter atmosphere able to hold more moisture that is then unleashed in torrential downpours.

“Human-driven climate change plays a dual role, both intensifying these storms and warming the atmosphere,” said Davide Faranda, a scientist at the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace in France. “Deeper storms yield more intense phenomena, while a warmer atmosphere can accommodate a greater amount of rain.”

Tommaso Alberti, a researcher at Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, said that the extreme event that hit New York “aligns with climate change projections”. He added that while natural variability can deliver major storms, “human-driven climate change is the primary driver, underscoring the urgent need for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts”.

Global heating has fueled contrasting extremes in rainfall across the US. While much of the arid south-west has faced prolonged drought – punctuated by occasional disastrous flooding events – the US north-east, including New York, has seen a significant increase in heavy rainfall. The amount of precipitation falling in heavy events in the region has increased 55% since the 1950s, a federal government analysis has found, with climate change the main cause of this.

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How Utilities Might Decarbonize And Avoid A Climate Breakdown

By: - Forbes

Tony Pan came to the United States from Taiwan in 2004 to study physics at Stanford University before getting his Ph.D. in the same subject area from Harvard University. Now, the 37-year-old is the chief executive of Washington State-based Modern Hydrogen, making energy cleaner and cheaper with a formula endorsed by a former U.S. energy secretary and Microsoft Founder Bill Gates.

We’ll get into that in a moment. But utilities have invested in and bought the technology — a potentially humongous market in the pilot phase. The chief executive says it will go commercial in 2025 and gradually scale up.

“Right now, it is like TeslaTSLA +0.6% in 2008,” CEO Pan told me in a virtual interview. “Utilities are the target audience, which serve millions of customers — residential and business. They have pressure to reduce carbon emissions. Otherwise, they could do nothing. They want to switch to hydrogen because it burns cleanly. It is about decarbonization — quickly and at scale.”

The company, founded in 2015, has raised $100 million from the Gates Frontier, NextEra EnergyNEE -9%, and National Grid Partners.

It uses methane pyrolysis to decarbonize natural gas, which is abundant and cheap in the United States. That process splits the hydrogen and the carbon. In other words, natural gas is 80% hydrogen, and the focus is on removing the one pesky carbon atom. The technology heats natural gas to 1,000 degrees Celsius without oxygen.

That allows Modern Hydrogen to crack the natural gas and decarbonize it, thus isolating the carbon atom — not burning it and sending it to the atmosphere. That avoids 10 gigatons of CO2 yearly. Public and private enterprises have invested millions of dollars in this technology, which former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz applauds. It’s called turquoise hydrogen because it mixes blue and green. Blue hydrogen occurs when the carbon is captured and buried, and green hydrogen refers to using wind or solar power to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

Importantly, Modern Hydrogen takes the isolated carbon — a substance that looks like chimney soot — and sells it to manufacturers. That means the technology does double duty, helping to justify the cost. Instead of combusting fuel and trying to capture and bury the CO2, the company has found a use for it in asphalt.

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Report claiming net zero will cost UK trillions retracted due to ‘factual errors’

By: - The Guardian

Rightwing thinktank Civitas mistakenly cost onshore wind power 10,000 times higher than reality and claimed bill would be £4.5tn

A report that hugely overestimated the cost to the UK of reaching net zero emissions has been retracted by the rightwing thinktank that published it.

The Civitas pamphlet published on Thursday claimed to offer a “realistic” estimate of the cost – £4.5tn – and said “the government needs to be honest with the British people”. However, factual errors were quickly pointed out after publication.

The most serious error was the confusion by the report’s author, Ewen Stewart, between power capacity in megawatts (MW) with electricity generation in megawatt hours (MWh). As a result, he presented an unrealistic “£1.3m per MWh” figure for the cost for onshore wind power. The true number is more than 10,000 times lower at about £50 to £70 per MWh. Another error was mixing up billions with trillions.

A statement on the Civitas website said: “This report has been taken down from the website because it was found to contain factual errors, it is undergoing revision and a fresh process of peer review. A revised report will be released when this process is completed.”

This statement replaced an earlier one in which Civitas said the report’s problems were limited to only two paragraphs: “There has been criticism on social media of two paragraphs of this report, where capacity and output are confused. These paragraphs will be amended and updated. The author is happy to acknowledge this and correct the report. The fact remains that we are facing a huge bill for net zero that is many times more than official estimates.”

The erroneous Civitas estimate of the cost of meeting net zero is far higher than the figure produced by the government’s official adviser, the climate change committee (CCC), which said that reaching net zero would require net investments of £1.4tn by 2050.

However, the CCC also found that reaching net zero would generate savings in the form of lower fossil fuel bills worth £1.1tn, resulting in a net cost of £0.3tn. The Civitas report did not reference the Office for Budget Responsibility’s 2021 conclusion that “unmitigated climate change would ultimately have catastrophic economic and fiscal consequences”. Stewart wrote in 2021 that human-caused warming is a “contested theory”.

The report followed Rishi Sunak’s recent climate speech, in which he called for an “honest” approach to net zero that ends “unacceptable costs” and changed policies in order to slow the pace of the UK’s climate action. The Civitas report was covered by the Sun, the Times, Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Spectator. By Monday the Express had removed its article, while others had added footnotes but kept the pieces online.

Prof Jim Skea, the new chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost climate science body, said on Monday that taking a slower route to net zero emissions by 2050 will worsen the climate crisis.

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In Michigan, not-so-sunny prospects for solar farms


Fearful they will lose their small town vibes, some communities say no to solar.

Michigan isn’t known for sunny weather. Yet in recent years, it’s seen a strong push for solar energy — including in Traverse City, the largest community in northern Michigan. Along the M-72 highway, rows of huge solar panels gleam in the sun, covering about 30 acres of grassy field.

In the shade underneath the panels are sheep.

This is called “solar grazing,” where livestock are placed on solar installations to keep vegetation in check. Sheep have grazed at the site for the past three summers, eating grass and depositing droppings along the rows of panels.

Bart Hautala, operations manager for Heritage Sustainable Energy, said hosting some 30 sheep is a win-win: Sheep eat the grass, and that prevents foliage from shading the panels.

“It’s a multiuse land now,” he said. “It’s environmentally friendly. We’re helping out a farmer. He’s got more space to put more sheep.”

But across the state and the country, similar collaborations between farmers and companies have faced roadblocks.

Solar power is central to the nation’s transition to renewable energy, including in Michigan, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. Reaching that goal will require a lot of land, and some solar companies, researchers, and farmers are trying to use land for both agriculture and renewable energy — a practice called agrivoltaics. But local opposition has hampered those efforts, and solar advocates say Michigan is a prime example of how townships can slow renewable energy development.

This debate is playing out around the country, as people grapple with what a transition to clean energy actually means. A May 2023 report by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University found that across 35 states, there are 228 local restrictions strong enough to stop projects. That opposition has grown steadily, up 35 percent from the year before. And local restraints severely restrict renewable development, according to a 2022 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Michigan exemplifies the tension between solar and local concerns. Since townships decide where renewable energy projects are located, residents have a lot of say and many have placed moratoriums on solar and wind. The Sabin Center found that as of last May, 26 local Michigan governments had delayed or blocked utility-scale developments, the most of any state in the study. It didn’t compare restrictions to the number of existing projects, but 118 wind and solar projects are already operating or under development, according to the state. As more are proposed, much of the focus is on the relationship between solar and farmland.

“Michigan has the most restrictive measures when it comes to siting solar on agricultural land,” said Matthew Eisenson, who authored the May report. “There’s a lot of apples to oranges, but I think Michigan just has the most activity on this issue of anywhere.”

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