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
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.
PACE and PACE/Alternatives are both emissions-reduction and economic development strategies—prime examples of regenerative financing—building an economy that is efficient, renewable, and sustainable over the long term, in contrast to what we now realize is an unsustainable, profoundly damaging, and ultimately self-destructive world economic system. Programs like PACE, NICCE & DREEM that invest private sector money in upgrading the efficiency and resiliency of our building stock are foundational for a regenerative economy. In the coming year, we will include local implementation strategies that we believe will leverage these tools to generate and keep wealth in the community.
Growing Our Team
We’re pleased to welcome two new collaborators, Jill Sydor and Stu Fox in operations, project management, administration and management roles that greatly expand our skills, capabilities, and reach. Meanwhile, Gus Escher, our long-time Director of Finance, has taken an economic development position with Greater Trenton, a nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization of the state’s historic capital city (which has for many years been a poster child for urban decay).
Our Sponsored Initiatives
Our fiscally sponsored projects, Ecovillage NJ (EVNJ) and Ecovillagers Alliance (EVA), made quantum leaps forward this year. EVNJ spawned several new cohousing developments in the region, following an over-subscribed and very successful “how-to” workshop with industry guru Chuck Durrett. And now, we’re meeting monthly at the Princeton Integral Yoga Community Center. It’s great to have a home base and we’re excited about the partnership. Ecovillagers Alliance (EVA) is incubating an ecovillage neighborhood in Lancaster, PA. They are piloting legal structures and contracts they’ve developed to facilitate the implementation of an alternative model to co-housing through Community Land Cooperatives (CLCs), based on collective ownership and a unique tenant-owner model that allows for renting, not just buying into an ecovillage.
We also launched a new website devoted to the development of a Green Economy for New Jersey, based on the work of Board Member Matt Polsky and his students, and have published a number of articles at GreenEconomyNJ.org (as well as at several other sites, including DeadRiverJournal.org, WorldthatWorks.org, and PossiblePlanet.org).
* New InterCreditor Clean Energy (NICCE) and Deed-registered Renewables and Energy Efficiency Measures (DREEM). For more information on these financing innovations, please visit www.RegenerativeFinancing.org and contact us if you are working on clean energy or resiliency projects. For more information on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), see www.NewJerseyPACE.org.
On the global front, Dr. Delton Chen has presented a new economic hypothesis that justifies a policy for a Global Carbon Reward. The policy includes revised central bank mandates and a new currency exchange mechanism for funding carbon abatement and carbon sequestration projects. The value of the global reward for carbon will rise in response to the risk of climate disaster—making decarbonization projects more financially attractive and increasing our control over the global carbon balance. (Details at Global4C.org.) Next year, in 2020, the policy will be launched as the Living Systems Economy (LSE). Watch out for a public webinar with Stanford University’s Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB). Also, watch out for the launch of livingsystemseconomy.org, a new website devoted to the approach. Please consider supporting this policy project for resolving the climate crisis and regenerating the planet.
Please donate, and contact us if you can offer support as a university, institute, corporation or foundation to sustain Dr. Chen’s work, to support the testing of this new, potentially game-changing economic theory, and to help us bring this solution to the attention of policy makers and the general public.
Our Broader Purpose
At the broadest level, then, we are working on multiple initiatives to help “turn the ship around,” to build a regenerative economy and to pilot new financial structures that support the new opportunities that this transition brings. In collaboration with others, we at Possible Planet are pushing on the sorts of financial levers that we believe will ultimately enable us to change direction, slowing the inertia that is built into the extractive economy and changing course in time to avoid widespread catastrophic failures.
We invite you to support us in expanding our efforts and activities in response to the urgency of our global situation. We are at the beginning of a “great transition” to a sustainable human future, and we believe that we have a unique role to play. We will have a lot more to say about this, and plan to continue to create opportunities for collaboration, contribution, and cooperative enterprise through Possible Planet.
Telling Our Story
In response to the urgency of the situation it is also becoming increasingly important for us to tell our story, to share the vision that animates our programs, and ask for the community’s support in developing further solutions for a clean economy. We’re a different kind of nonprofit. We’re at the forefront of financial innovation for clean energy and resiliency, while keeping our eye on the larger goal, which is to restore, protect, and maintain our biosphere. We have the resources, the knowledge, and the ability to wreck the Earth completely—or to turn it into a Permaculture Garden of Eden.
We stand for the possibility of an enduring human future. As Victor Hugo stated, ideas are more powerful than armies, and nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.
This is what we invite you to embrace, support, and contribute to—taking a stand for coming through this period of converging crises as a better species, capable of creating a better world. One way that you can do this is by making a significant donation to support Possible Planet.
An Opportunity to Grow through Contribution
This is ultimately what led Victoria and me to make a $5000 donation to the Hunger Project, in 1985 as a young couple. We were challenged to invest in making an idea real in the world, and while we have not yet ended hunger, the Hunger Project has made the possibility of ending hunger on the planet one that is no longer dismissed as implausible or too idealistic.
We know from personal experience the power of our own philanthropic giving and are eager to share with you the profound impact that supporting this cause can have in your own life. I promise that it will make a difference to the world as well as to you personally. When the history of this critical period is written, future generations will point to those who embraced in their own lives the possibility of a different future. We cannot avert global catastrophe without global systems change, and what we need to sustain that reality is a profound personal transformation in our relationship with our own habitat.
I invite you become a part of this historic turning, this shift from the old world of corporate greed and irresponsibility to a new world of unlimited possibility, interconnectedness, and achievement.
Collaboration, Cooperation, and Community
Together we can create a new economy, a new culture, and a new possibility for human being. Together we are the crew and passengers of Spaceship Earth, the eyes and ears and awareness of the living universe, on a journey more fantastic than that anyone has ever imagined. As several major scientists have said, the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. At the very least, what we know is that we have inherited this Earth, this extraordinary self-sustaining island of life whirling through the vast reaches of space, and that we are now responsible for managing it wisely and passing it on to future generations. The Earth, as astrobiologist David Grinspoon has pointed out, is now in human hands. We have both the ability and the responsibility for keeping our planet’s life-support systems at peak performance, not faltering and beginning to break down. There is a fundamental shift in perspective once we can embrace this, such that every issue shows up as an opportunity for positive action.
How we can make this difference in the larger world is through communication, conversation, contribution, and taking action. We invite you to explore with us solutions for a sustainable future, to invest in expanding our projects and initiatives, and to join our growing fellowship of “Possible Planet Pioneers.”
Here’s where you can support us: http://possibleplanet.org/supporting-our-work/