Search Results for 'Rural Development'

Community-​​Based Electric Micro-​​Grids Can Contribute to Rural Development: Evidence from Kenya

We clarify the mechanisms through which rural electrification can contribute to rural development. Through a detailed case study analysis of a community-based electric micro-grid in rural Kenya, we demonstrate that access to electricity enables the use of electric equipment and tools by small and micro enterprises, resulting in significant improvement in productivity per worker (100–200% depending on the task at hand) and in a corresponding growth in income levels in the order of 20–70%, depending on the product made. Access to electricity simultaneously enables and improves the delivery of social and business services from a wide range of village-level infrastructure (e.g., schools, markets, and water pumps) while improving the productivity of agricultural activities. We find that increased productivity and growth in revenues within the context of better delivery of social and business support services contribute to achieving higher social and economic benefits for rural communities. We also demonstrate that when local electricity users have an ability to charge and enforce cost-reflective tariffs and when electricity consumption is closely linked to productive uses that generate incomes, cost recovery is feasible.

Methodology for Monitoring Sustainable Development of Isolated Microgrids in Rural Communities

Abstract: Microgrids are a rapidly evolving and increasingly common form of local power generation used to serve the needs of both rural and urban communities. In this paper, we present a methodology to evaluate the evolution of the sustainability of stand-alone microgrids projects. The proposed methodology considers a composite sustainability index (CSI) that includes both positive and negative impacts of the operation of the microgrid in a given community. The CSI is constructed along environmental, social, economic and technical dimensions of the microgrid. The sub-indexes of each dimension are aggregated into the CSI via a set of adaptive weighting factors, which indicate the relative importance of the corresponding dimension in the sustainability goals. The proposed methodology aims to be a support instrument for policy makers especially when defining sound corrective measures to guarantee the sustainability of small, isolated microgrid projects. To validate the performance of the proposed methodology, a microgrid installed in the northern part of Chile (Huatacondo) has been used as a benchmarking project.

US, China [can] cooperate on green energy in rural areas

For the original click here, or navigate to China Daily:  

US, China cooperate on green energy in rural areas

By MINGMEI LI in New York | Xinhua | 
Innovation in rural area-green energy development and boosting collaboration between the United States and China in science and technology are being emphasized at a "smart village" forum. More than 50 experts, professors, local entrepreneurs, environmental and social organizations from many countries are participating in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Smart Village Forum (ISV) in Shanxi province on Sunday and Monday. Participants in the forum, titled "Green Low-Carbon and Smart Village", discussed environmental governance topics such as achieving energy transition, using advanced technology to assist poverty-stricken regions globally in accessing affordable and clean energy, improving energy efficiency, and promoting green and sustainable development. A new demonstration project in Changzhi, a city in southeast Shanxi province, was featured at the forum, showcasing the current progress and practical results achieved by ISV. The project has effectively incorporated solar photovoltaic power and clean-heating technologies and products for residents. The ISV working group has partnered with leading Chinese and international higher-education institutions to create energy models and projects suited to specific local conditions in other cities such as Chongqing, Gansu and Heilongjiang. Daniel Kammen, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and energy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and his laboratory, have worked closely with scholars and students from Tsinghua University, Chongqing University and North China Electric Power University to research renewable energy conservation and intelligent models from an academic perspective. 1cf2cd7e6576ee0cecd9c39c6eb4a1f7 "We develop mathematical models of the grid. There's lots of interesting physics. There's lots of interesting science. My partnerships in China have been very productive," Kammen told China Daily. "Low-cost solar, better batteries and smart sensors. We build models that become real. My laboratory is very much based around not just basic science, but also the mission of decarbonizing the power grid and making our economy green. "Just like the tensions that existed between the Soviet Union and the US over politics and geopolitics in the '70s and '80s, one lesson that I think scientists learned on both sides, both in the Soviet Union and in the US, is that we need to keep the scientific channels open," he said. Kammen said that science cooperation and exchange are important at this moment. "The US and China are the G2. I like to say we are the G2 of energy, the two biggest consumers of energy and the two biggest polluters in terms of greenhouse gases," he said. "There is no climate solution unless the US and China find ways to work through their differences." "This is a technology exchange and a global need. We are working on clean energy under climate change and fulfilling the need for decarbonization," said Xiaofeng Zhang, the vice-president of ISV and president of Global Green Development Alliance. The ISV has extended its efforts not only within China but also across diverse regions, including Africa, Latin America, South Asia and North America, with the primary focus on delivering eco-friendly and cost-effective energy solutions to underprivileged communities who have limited access to environmental resources. "We are doing more than only energy transferring, but also internet, electrical machinery, telecommunications and telemedicine. We introduce all of these based on the community's needs," said Rajan Kapur, the president of ISV. "We ask the community what they want to do, and based on that, we tell them what technology might be appropriate, what technology can be locally sourced." ISV is also collaborating with Chinese local companies and organizations. "It is also a business-development cooperation, because when you take technology and introduce it into society, you cannot just drop it over there," he said. "The capacity does not exist to use the technology; the infrastructure does not exist. So we also help with the business modeling, the governance of the enterprises that get set up," he said. Kapur said that what they are trying to do is to have a long-term impact, and ISV has not only created scientific and business models in those regions but also has deployed supportive equipment for more than 20 or 30 years. He emphasized that ISV's ultimate objective is to ensure affordable and clean energy access for 1 billion people worldwide through technology and cooperation between the US and China. Additionally, ISV expects to leverage its resources to assist local communities and businesses in achieving sustainable economic growth and regionwide improvements. "What we should remember is that it is advancing technology for all of humanity," Kapur said.

Feb. 21, 2018 — RAEL Seminar: Jit Bhattacharya, will speak on “Solar Home Systems 2.0: How cleantech & fintech are changing African rural electrification”

Jit-Bhattacharya-horizontal Mr. Jit Bhattacharya has been Chief Technology Officer at Fenix International Inc. since July 2017. Mr. Bhattacharya served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Mission Motor Company until 2014 and previously served as its Chief Operating Officer. He has more than 10 years' of experience in energy storage systems and product development. Prior to accepting the role with Fenix, he worked as a Senior Manager in the special projects group at Apple.  Jit is a Berkeley alum and a former co-chair of BERC.

Best, Dennis V.

Dennis has focused his career on technology and sustainability policy in emerging and developing economies. His research interests include technology and innovation policy and impacts to resource and rural development, technology transfer and the political economy of land use management. He has led programs with the Paris based International Energy Agency, as an official of the OECD, working with emerging economies on energy technology policy and contributing to the Agency’s analysis of energy, environment and climate policies (specifically working collaboratively with China and other transition economies in exploring long-term clean energy options, including advanced bioenergy, carbon sequestration and negative emissions systems.) Prior to living in Berkeley, he spent five years in France, and seven years in Beijing, China – advising government and industrial clients on sustainability and technology deployment initiatives. He holds a BA in political science (international relations) and a concentration in East Asian studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Kirubi, Charles

Gathu Kirubi, brings strong analytical skills and demonstrated management experience cutting across renewable energy, rural development and micro-finance. Aside from holding a PhD in Energy & Rural Development from the University of California Berkeley, a premier institution in the field, Kirubi brings to Solar Transitions over 10 years  experience in innovation and leadership in designing and managing rural energy projects in East Africa. In 2001, Kirubi won the prestigious Ashden Award in recognition of "leadership and innovation in pioneering the start-up of a revolving fund credit scheme that supports schools and micro-enterprises with energy efficient wood stoves in Kenya. In addition to consulting on energy and microfinance with a number of organizations including UNDP, Arc Finance, E+Co, and Faulu-Kenya, Kirubi is also a Lecturer at the Environmental Sciences Department, Kenyatta University, Nairobi,where he teaches courses on energy, technology, and sustainable development. His main interests in the project are the linkages between rural access to electricity and income generating activities, including small and medium size enterprises.

Elon Musk says ‘population collapse’ is a bigger threat than climate change. Is he right?


Elon Musk says 'population collapse' is a bigger threat than climate change. Is he right?

At the Cannes Film Festival this summer, many attendees reveled at the "Top Gun" reboot, a throwback to the past. But on the sidelines a smaller crowd witnessed something more solemn: the possibility of a dark and tragic future. "Plan 75," a film by Japanese director Hayakawa Chie, explores the potential dangers of her country's aging society, where nearly one-in-three people are currently 65 or older. Set in a near-future dystopia, the film depicts a nation whose healthcare and pensions systems have become so overburdened by the elderly that the government aggressively markets a policy to pay for final bucket list items and then euthanize anyone over 75. While technically the stuff of science fiction, demographers say the film arrives at a time when humanity really is aging. The global fertility rate has decreased by half since 1960. In countries responsible for 85% of the world's gross domestic product – the United States, Germany, Japan, even China and India – births have fallen below the “replacement rate,” meaning that unless offset by immigration, population will begin to decline as older generations depart. The United Nations calculates the world population will now peak in 2084, before starting to fall by the century's end.
An elderly man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Japan is the world's oldest country, with 3-in-10 people over the age of 65.
An elderly man walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. Japan is the world's oldest country, with 3-in-10 people over the age of 65.
In a world where economies are designed around growth and social systems depend on the young supporting the old, forward thinkers are beginning to wonder what comes next. Consider Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and business magnate, now most prominent among their ranks. “Population collapse due to low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming,” Musk wrote on Twitter this summer. “Mark these words.” But is he right?

Population concerns are nothing new

For centuries, humans have pondered the ideal size of humanity. But experts warn such efforts usually end in folly, and that our species has within its grasp solutions to prosper whether populations rise or fall. “It's up to us and how the world responds,” said Lauren Johnston, a professor at the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre and economic demographer. For much of the last few centuries, those fretting about overpopulation have had the spotlight. In 1798, English scholar Thomas Malthus published an influential essay that laid out an idea known as the “Malthusian trap,” which holds that population growth inevitably exceeds food and other resources, leading to famine and poverty. The work inspired anxiety in England and helped lead to the first national census of England, Scotland and Wales. Such concerns echoed loudly in 1968, when Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich and wife Anne Ehrlich published "The Population Bomb," a book that predicted global famine leading to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people within decades. But most experts say such predictions have not come to pass. Particularly in the past 50 years, a “Green Revolution” in agriculture has used new farming methods to reap more calories per acre of land, leading world hunger to decrease even as the population doubled. Although studies show such practices have created additional problems – driving water pollution, contributing to climate change, and perhaps even decreasing the nutritional value of food – Johnston points out that many nations are now facing the opposite of starvation. “In most countries there has been a sufficiently productive response to population growth that there hasn't been a famine,” Johnston said. “Now there's obesity.”

Underpopulation on the horizon?

As concern over having too many mouths to feed has waned, an opposing one has risen: too few people to work. That's an especially obvious worry in China, which infamously implemented a one-child policy in 1980 to address exponential population growth projections. Its current population of 1.4 billion remains the world's largest. But realizing the aging trajectory of its society, in 2016 China eliminated the policy and has also limited pensions and social programs for the elderly, Johnston said.
Chinese children hold flags during a rehearsal prior to the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 Beijing Summit on Sept. 3, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Chinese children hold flags during a rehearsal prior to the opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 2018 Beijing Summit on Sept. 3, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Many other nations are or soon will be facing similar challenges. To maintain a steady population without immigration, a nation has to achieve a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman, experts say. But the fertility rate is just 1.7 in China and Brazil, 1.5 across the European Union, and 0.8 in South Korea, the lowest of any country, according to the World Bank. The rate is 1.6 in the United States, where the population is still rising only due to longer lifespans and immigration, which is projected to outpace natural births by 2030. Globally, it's primarily African nations like Nigeria, where the fertility rate is 5.2, that are contributing to population growth. But as those nations develop, some experts expect fertility rates to fall as well, contributing to the possibility of unprecedented global population decline. “There's never been anything close to a parallel,” Johnston said. Some experts are ringing alarm bells on what that could mean for societies. In their book "Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival," economists Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan warn of mounting fiscal crises, "as medical, care, and pension expenditures all increase in our ageing societies." Nations could wind up burning the candle at both ends: as a higher percentage of people become retirees they require more public resources, while at the same time the taxable working population shrinks. Problems could be exacerbated as rates of Alzheimer's and other costly elder illnesses increase, while labor shortages create inflationary pressures. As countries face these challenges, their societies and politics could destabilize. "Our view of the future is not encouraging, but it is coherent and plausible," Goodhart and Pradhan write.

So Musk is right?

Not so fast, says Daniel Kammen, a professor of sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley and former Science Envoy to the U.S. State Department. While aging societies do pose possible challenges in the future, Kammen says the world is facing a current full-blown crisis right now: climate change. And adding more people to the Earth's population will only further complicate humanity's lagging efforts to fight global warming, experts say. “There's no ideal number, but certainly I would say there are too many people on our planet for our current lifestyle,” Kammen said. Kammen believes the entire conversation about population is a red herring, a view commonly held among population experts. Instead, he says the focus should be on whether or not countries are wisely using resources. That's when the wealth of nations like the U.S., and not their population, come into focus. A study in the journal Nature Sustainability this year found that the world's wealthiest 10% of people produce 47% of its carbon emissions, compared to just 10% of emissions for the entire bottom half of the economic ladder. To put it another way, World Bank data shows the average Nigerian's carbon footprint is 0.6 metric tons each year. With the globe currently emitting about 34 billion metric tons of CO2 annually, that means it could currently support 58 billion people if they had a Nigerian carbon footprint. On the other hand, the average American uses 14.7 metric tons of CO2 each year, meaning the world could support just 2.3 billion people if everyone had an American footprint. The same effect can be seen within countries. While many Americans believe that population-dense cities hold the most blame for carbon emissions, work from Kammen and his colleagues show the carbon footprints of urban Americans are actually substantially less than rural residents, with suburban residents surpassing both. That's true both on a per capita basis and in total: about half of U.S. carbon emissions come from suburban settings, while less than a third come from urban. Ultimately, Kammen said, the question is how to reduce resource footprints, especially in wealthy nations. The smaller they get, the more people the planet can support. “While it sure seems like there are a lot of people on our planet, our individual impact is much more measured by the ways in which we amplify or minimize our footprint,” Kammen said. “If you make it about population, you avoid how critical our patterns of consumption are.” Experts also say the challenges of population decline are not insurmountable. Johnston says it will come down to smart planning and cooperation. If populations do peak and fall, governments can mitigate the repercussions by sharing resources more equitably. That will likely include sacrifices among the older generations. Not with their lives as "Plan 75" depicts, but through higher retirement ages and adjustments to pensions and benefits. Other experts note that it may be possible to maintain productivity levels with fewer people, through increased education or even possibly with the assistance of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and automation. In the end, people of working ages may also need to sacrifice in the form of higher taxes. But such a future will inevitably look different than the world we live in now, and Goodhart and Pradhan warn a lot will be riding on whether or not societies accept such changes. "We doubt that politicians, facing rising health and pension costs, will be prepared or able to raise taxes enough to equilibrate the economy via fiscal policy," they wrote.

Population 'cures' can be worse than population collapse

While population decline comes with challenges, experts warn that attempts to reverse course are often at best ineffectual, and at worst hateful and destructive. After all, they note, the basis of population decline is personal freedom. Reiner Klingholz, a population researcher and author based in Germany, notes that smaller families and a more developed lifestyle often go hand-in-hand. As a society becomes wealthier and more educated, its fertility rate invariably falls. That's particularly tied to women's education and empowerment. When women become more educated, both professionally and on sexual reproduction, they are presented with life choices beyond homemaker and often choose to have less children, experts say. Development also brings increased wealth, which creates societies that are overall healthier and happier, even if the fertility rate is lower. “Look at Sweden and Denmark,” where fertility rates stand at 1.7, Klingholz said. “People are very happy in these countries.” Also troubling: Concerns about population decline often boost xenophobia. In the United States, "Great Replacement Theory" – an unfounded conspiracy that political leaders are intentionally replacing white Americans with non-white immigrants –   has moved from extreme right-wing circles into mainstream discourse. Perhaps nowhere is this tension more apparent globally than in Hungary, where the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is now offering about $30,000 and a raft of subsidies on homes and cars for Hungarian families with at least four children, while opposing new immigration. “Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender,” Orban said in 2020. Such rhetoric stands in stark contrast to most economists, who according to Goodhart and Pradhan, value immigration as a tool to offset population decline and boost a country's workforce and productivity. Attempts to instead fix population decline through economic policies like tax incentives often fail due to the ties between women's empowerment and lower fertility rates, said Per Espen Stoknes, director of the BI Centre for Sustainability and Energy at the Norwegian Business School. “Men can't tell women how many children they should have,” Stoknes said. “It's not really about the issue of (resources). It's really about what kind of life do women want for themselves?”

A happier future?

Johnston says that in the end, population decline doesn't have to be a crisis. Ultimately, as with climate change, it comes down to wise resource allocation. If humanity can cooperate and efficiently distribute resources through immigration and economic policies, it could build a world with where people are fewer but more educated, and in which productivity and ingenuity still flourish. But that's a big "if." “It might be so much healthier if there's a smaller population overall, but much more cooperation,” Johnston said. “If China goes from 1.4 billion people to 800 million, but people go from peasants to middle class, how on Earth is that going to be a bad shift?” Kyle Bagenstose covers climate change, chemicals, water and other environmental topics for USA TODAY. He can be reached at or on Twitter @kylebagenstose.

How data-​​driven research partnerships deepen energy access across supply chains

For the GreenBiz article, click here.

Offgrid Box in the field

An unpacked “Box” in the field, providing power for water filtration and clinic electrification. Photo by Sam Miles

Access to reliable, affordable and clean energy is increasingly recognized as the "golden thread" tying together and enabling many other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Despite progress over the last decade in making solutions to energy poverty more accessible to the more than 800 million people currently without electricity (and the many more with intermittent or unaffordable energy) many gaps remain. In particular, the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted supply and demand for energy, both of which are necessary to meet SDG 7. At the same time, transitioning to more renewable energy-based electricity systems requiring battery storage, whether in emerging markets or developed ones, will require massive amounts of mineral resources with significant human and environmental footprints. A paper published by USAID in late 2021underscores the urgency of addressing mining in the context of the green energy transition: Recent global studies predict demand increases of up to ten times current production levels for minerals like cobalt, graphite, and lithium. No matter the mix of alternate energy sources the world turns to, the mining sector will be a key player in the years ahead. To meet the ambitious goal of universal modern energy by 2030 — while grappling with the consequences of critical minerals demand growth — harmonized policies, coordinated investment and innovative research are urgently needed. Equally or even more important, however, are the understudied and undersupported partnerships that can catalyze and scale these efforts to make SDG7 both a lifeline and a means of economic empowerment and equity. The Congo Power alliance represents one such innovative coalition approach. Initially launched by Google's Supplier Responsibility team in 2017 to reinforce responsible minerals trade and expand economic opportunity through clean energy, the initiative supports communities committed to the responsible sourcing of minerals that are ubiquitous in electronics and historically tied to conflict and human rights abuses. This mineral trade focuses on tungsten, tin, tantalum, gold and cobalt, making this issue particularly critical in the African Great Lakes Region, where much of the world’s supply of these minerals’ stock lies underground.
A graphic of the Africa Great Lakes region

The African Great Lakes region includes Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Republic of South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. Image courtesy of Google, USAID

As part of its overarching sustainability strategy, Google committed to maximizing our use of finite resources, which includes supporting in-region programs that reinforce responsible supply chains, and increasing the use of recycled materials. These program commitments are also part of meeting the expectations of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which mandate that all publicly traded companies complete due diligence on their supply chains, and report on those measures. In line with these commitments, the Congo Power team has invested in 14 community projects since 2017 and has brought a broad group of stakeholders along. On a Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) delegation with the U.S. State Department in late 2019, for example, Google, Nokia, Intel, Apple, Global Advanced Metals, USAID, U.S. Department of State, GiZ, the Responsible Business Alliance and RESOLVE visited the Idjwi Island minigrid and spent time with the Panzi Foundation’s Denis Mukwege discussing the intersection of human rights and responsible sourcing in the region. As a result of that trip, the Congo Power team focused on building a deeper relationship with the Panzi Foundation and put community health clinics at the center of addressing power, gender, energy equity along with reinforcing responsible supply chains. The team also continues to expand collaborations with conservation areas such as Garamba National Park, which is deploying clean power systems to support local economic activities (both mining and non-mining) in ways that reduce threats to the park's conservation and biodiversity goals.
Four artisanal gold miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a site visited by the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade delegation in 2019.

Four artisanal gold miners in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at a site visited by the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade delegation in 2019. Photo Credit: Alyssa Newman

The program’s launch highlighted the importance of deep relationships between development partners, consumer brands and NGOs with deep in-country operating expertise, such as GivePower and Resolve. This multi-sector approach is critical for drawing in further "downstream" conglomerates whose customers increasingly demand end products made with responsibly sourced materials. This strategy has successfully brought on some of the world’s largest manufacturers to the alliance’s commitment to responsible sourcing. Intel has funded two additional phases, and other partners are in the process of making funding commitments. The alliance collaborates with platforms such as Cobalt for Development (BMW, Samsung, BASF, GIZ, Volkswagen, Good Shepherd International Foundation and others) and the Fair Cobalt Alliance(Tesla, Fairfone, The Impact Facility and others) to reinforce mutual objectives in responsible sourcing, and support organizations that are working on the ground. Beyond public and private partners, academia plays an important role within this consortium. Through a collaboration with the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab (RAEL) at the University of California, Berkeley, the Congo Power initiative explores how innovative energy solutions can improve livelihoods and resilience across communities in East and Central Africa. Previously funded research has explored the intersection between energy poverty and conflict, the evolution of real-time monitoring of decentralized energy systems, operating models for mini-grids in urban informal settlements, the impact of solar-home-systems on energy, gender and social justice, and frameworks for understanding community participation’s role in mini-grid projects. This is just the beginning, however. Many questions remain for the RAEL/Congo Power collaboration to uncover in improving the delivery of sustainable and appropriate energy solutions across the various supply chains that constitute the lifeblood of vulnerable communities around the world. Chief among the initiative’s research ambitions is developing a deeper sense of how to make $1 of investment in renewable energy "go further." Benchmark impact metrics for innovative energy projects are lacking in the empirical literature, particularly for mini-grid technologies, increasingly recognized as the least-cost way to electrify hundreds of millions of those without power. Developing and documenting enabling partnerships also offers a key resource for nations, businesses, multinational aid / development organizations and civil society to interrogate potential solutions and scale up winning concepts that can help meet goals set in the Paris Climate Agreements and other SDGs. Fundamentally, such a private-public-academic partnership boils down to exploring what kinds of impact — described both quantitatively and qualitatively — different energy delivery models can achieve across institutional and geographical scales. And beyond the evaluation of impact: Which narratives can most effectively communicate these insights into actionable support for promising solutions and their developers? Guided by such academic research questions, these partnerships are able to fund implementation partners as well. Nuru, Equatorial Power and OffGridBox are three such partners in East and Central Africa, whose operations are providing critical insights into key techno-economic and operational challenges to scaling energy access. These organizations have a wide and diverse footprint. Nuru builds and operates mini-grids across remote, rural, and urban areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Their principal installation is one of the largest mini-grids in Africa, supplying more than 1,800 customers through a 1.3 megawatt solar-hybrid installation in peri-urban neighborhoods in Goma, DRC. Congo Power supported Equatorial Power’s very first installation mini-grid, a 20 kilowatt-peak (kWp) installation on Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu (separating the DRC and Rwanda) supplying over 300 connections, including several small-to-medium enterprises. OffGridBox has deployed one of its 3.4 kWp containerized power and water installations in Walikale (a mining center in eastern DRC), with more than 80 identical such deployments around the world.
OffGridBoxes (“Boxes”) ready for deployment at the Rwandan headquarters.

OffGridBoxes (“Boxes”) ready for deployment at the Rwandan headquarters. Photo by Sam Miles

To gain deep yet broad insights into the challenge of strengthening the "golden thread," RAEL researchers within the Congo Power alliance aim to be both methodical yet practical in developing research themes from these initial project foci — particularly important given the challenges of doing in-person research through a pandemic. One theme that consistently emerges through and across such projects is the importance of "productive" uses of electricity — most simply defined as the ability of electricity users to generate additional income on the basis of improved energy access. When, where and how are informal artisans, entrepreneurs and laborers able to convert renewable electricity into improved economic outcomes for themselves, their homesteads and their communities? These questions have proven particularly challenging to answer, despite over two decades of scholarship describing productive uses of electricity as a cornerstone underpinning the financial sustainability, and thus scalability, of energy access solutions with high upfront investment costs and low margins. RAEL researchers have brought novel evaluation approaches to tackle this problem, including live-monitoring of electricity consumption of productive use pilots across the region, geospatial and remote sensing techniques leveraging satellite imagery and machine learning, as well as piloting new power quality and reliability measurement methodologies for evaluating the state of electricity for health services, including cold storage, through collaborations with infrastructure-monitoring startup nLine. Many important questions beyond how to catalyze income generating uses of electricity remain, however. Does street lighting reduce crime in remote villages or rapidly urbanizing environments? Can decentralized energy solutions bridge the gaps in Africa’s vaccine cold chains? How can project funders best collaborate with private sector implementers, NGOs, and policymakers to optimize the impacts of a given energy project, targeting outcomes as disparate as supply chain traceability, productive end uses, conservation or women’s empowerment?
Public street lighting provided by Nuru in a community near Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Public street lighting provided by Nuru in a community near Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Esther Nsapu 
These and many other research questions will guide RAEL researchers as the Congo Power initiative continues to gain momentum and partners. A much wider consortium of partners, however, is still needed to confront the magnitude of the challenges ahead, and data-driven research is critical to harness the disparate perspectives, resources and objectives such a big tent approach entails. For corporate sustainability professionals, joining coalitions such as Congo Power is one way to connect many distinct pieces of the challenges that lie ahead: confronting climate change by supporting cleaner energy production in communities at the very start of their supply chains, tackling the human rights implications of exponential demand growth for minerals required for electronics infrastructure including renewable energy equipment and battery storage technologies, and ensuring the equitable distribution of potential benefits from the global energy transition are distributed equitably. No one company or organization can move the needle on their own, but it is increasingly clear that shareholders, consumers, employees and regulators are placing greater responsibility on global brands to step up to the challenge. Partnerships such as Congo Power provide a clear pathway for private-public partnerships to explore and support cutting-edge projects, technologies and infrastructures, guided by the most recent empirical evidence of impact. With rigorous, intersectional and actionable research guiding such a powerful coalition of committed partners, a truly just energy transition is possible. Editor's note: Serena Patel (MIT), Hilary Yu, Joyceline Marealle (both UC Berkeley) and Alyssa Newman (Google and UC Berkeley) also contributed to this article.
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Now we are cooking with gas: How interdisciplinary solutions and local outreach can light a fire under clean stove adoption

This piece by Annelise Gill-Wiehl and Daniel Kammen is featured in The Beam #11 – Power in People. Subscribe now to read more on the subject.
  “Each time [the local workers] visit, we gain strength from that. To refill [LPG cylinders]. To continue on,” says Bibi Matunda (or Grandma Fruit as the old woman is kindly nicknamed) at a focus group with a few other families in the Community Technology Worker Pilot Program. In Tanzania, where our research is based, 96% of the population [1] relies on “unclean” fuels, and the effects of biomass burning and indoor air pollution contributes to 20,000 deaths [1]. Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) is one of the truly clean cooking fuels based on emission criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Although LPG is a fossil fuel, there is a net climate benefit to a large-scale switch to LPG for household fuel due to increased efficiency, as well as the benefit of transitioning away from the methane emissions caused by wood burning. Despite a wave of many African countries setting goals for increased or exclusive LPG use, LPG programs face common barriers to adoption of the clean fuel, which include a lack of education/need for household training, household safety concerns and the prohibitive cost. We looked for analogies in other sustainable development fields that overcame barriers in behavior change and the need for community transitions. Specifically, we turned to the literature on Community Health Workers – local individuals who link their underserved communities to health systems. Despite the existence of established and proven interventions to improve community health, local health systems are too fragmented to scale up these interventions. This weak infrastructure, combined with the shortage of over 4 million health care professionals and the high cost of training doctors, presented a need for a local worker to fill this health care void. A Community Health Worker (CHW) was implemented at the village level to provide individual care that was effective, culturally appropriate, and economical. The WHO defines CHWs as “members of the communities where they work, should be selected by the communities, should be answerable to the communities for their activities, should be supported by the health system, but not necessarily a part of the organization, and have shorter training than professional workers” [2]. The public health community has overwhelmingly demonstrated that CHWs can increase community development and access to health services. We therefore decided to investigate whether a similar model – a Community Technology Worker (CTW) – could be introduced to aid in the adoption of clean stoves. This work was piloted in Shirati, Tanzania, a town of ~50,000 on the edge of Lake Victoria, near the Kenyan border. Kubwana and Michire are two sub-villages in Shirati. Kubwana is a larger, electrified trading area with the regional hospital, small shops, and unofficial vendors selling vegetables, fruit, and charcoal. Michire is closer to the lake and has a smaller trading post without grid electrification – some shops have a single solar panel.  A local NGO, ReachShirati, helped identify trusted community members, Mary from Michire and Nayome from Kubwana, to each start with 15 households. The local LPG company, Mihan Gas, was brought in to provide a day long safety training to supplement the manuals and explanations we provided on the LPG stove. The women then taught the families how to use the gas stove and provided educational and safety pamphlets in the native language that were supplemented with pictorial content for those who cannot read. They promised to always be available for questions or concerns. Mary and Nayome would check-in weekly with the households to conduct a short survey to gauge fuel use, but more importantly, they continue to provide support and encouragement to the families. After a year of surveys and rounds of interviews, the results show that roughly 80% of families report sustained, regular refilling of LPG cylinders. This is a relatively high rate of adoption compared to other LPG and improved biomass cookstove interventions.
© Annelise Gill-Wiehl. The CTW received training on the gas stove, enabling them to empower their community and their own household to confidently use gas safely.
© Annelise Gill-Wiehl. The CTW received training on the gas stove, enabling them to empower their community and their own household to confidently use gas safely.
  A CTW does not remove all barriers to gas adoption. Economic difficulties and cooking materials stand in the way of full adoption. However, these results do suggest that a CTW does mitigate many of the obstacles through education and maintenance support. To further bolster the effectiveness of the CTW model and encourage families to refill their LPG cylinder, we are continuing to conceptualize with other disciplines, specifically economics and microfinance. The research is attempting to expand and offer households an opportunity to opt into a savings bank option to promote accountability and a formal financial mechanism.  
© IDEO & Clean Cooking Alliance. The available cookstoves in Tanzania range from wood to charcoal, kerosene, LPG, and electric. The upfront costs increase from free to 50 USD as you climb this “energy ladder.” The variability in income creates challenges for rural households to afford the lump sum of a gas cylinder, which often prevents their adoption of this option.
© IDEO & Clean Cooking Alliance. The available cookstoves in Tanzania range from wood to charcoal, kerosene, LPG, and electric. The upfront costs increase from free to 50 USD as you climb this “energy ladder.” The variability in income creates challenges for rural households to afford the lump sum of a gas cylinder, which often prevents their adoption of this option.
  Our work is not the only clean cooking initiative to reach across disciplines and innovate to reach the world’s poor. There are many prominent ventures on the horizon in clean cooking, such as pay-as-you-cook SmartGas from Envirofit and Inyeryeri’s firewood pellet stove – one of the few biomass stoves to meet the Tier 4 Emission Criteria set by the WHO. These enterprises are combining disciplines with IT & computer science, mechanical engineering, and economics. This cross-disciplinary work is crucial to attack the most pressing environmental and global health issues. As we face a warming climate and growing health implications from the burning of biomass, it is all the more important for the sustainable development community to work together and lean on new ideas and identify proven bright spots, even those from different disciplines. We cannot look for solutions in silos; rather, we must reach out across disciplines and topics to achieve a sustainable future. We must not forget to incorporate the most important aspect from both CHWs and CTWs – the human contact of local outreach. In theory, reach and scale are easily and quickly attainable even without physical visiting. However, even companies like Envirofit, who pursue large-scale cookstove deployment mostly through IT-based communication, admit that “while investing in training resources increases costs, it also increases adoption”[3]. The advantage of this model for cooking over an IT-based solution (i.e. text message education or reminders) is the flexibility and resilience inherent to a human-led initiative. Human workers can respond and adapt to the specific issues of the household and provide helpful advice; an automated text message is easily ignored and cannot adapt to specific circumstances. Households are more likely to adopt improved stoves if they have had prior exposure to a trusted individual or organization promoting the product. Additionally, these local trainers could be utilized to solve other community problems, such as water and sanitation technology or mini-grids. An interdisciplinary solution can be employed to solve a multitude of disciplinary problems. The focus group reiterated the importance of community between the CTW and the households. For example, one woman said, “we have become friends, we greet each other, you find out what the problem is and you help. If there is a problem, we find a solution.” As the women of Shirati support each other within this program, so should the fields in sustainable development. Beyond an expanded study that couples this model with a savings bank as mentioned above, this work could become a strong private-public partnership. Mirroring the CHWs in Tanzania, LPG companies could coordinate their village LPG dealers with local governments to adopt this model, empower their communities from within, and work towards clean fuel adoption for decades to come. Community-based outreach and interdisciplinary solutions are invaluable in the effort to provide access and ensure adoption of clean energy for cooking and beyond. Sources [1]    Clean Cooking Alliance, “Tanzania,” 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 30-Oct-2019]. [2]    G. Health, “Community and Formal Health System Support for Enhanced Community Health Worker Performance A U.S. Government Evidence Summit FINAL REPORT Content,” 2012. [3]    Envirofit, “COOKING IN ONE MILLION KITCHENS: Lessons Learned in Scaling a Clean Cookstove Business,” 2015.

A Green Stimulus to Rebuild Our Economy: An Open Letter and Call to Action to Members of Congress

A Green Stimulus to

Rebuild Our Economy

An Open Letter and Call to Action to Members of Congress

If you agree with us, please click here to sign onto our letter.

As a nation we face three converging crises: the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; the climate emergency; and extreme inequality.

Unemployment is rising at the fastest rate since the 2008 crash, and could eventually reach 20% — twice as high as the Great Recession. We needimmediate and sustained intervention to protect people’s health and economic well-being, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. We must also begin planning our economic recovery in a way that protects us from the impact of climate change and lifts up workers and frontline communities.

Many other groups are focused on the emergency stimulus package to stabilize our economy, on preventing harm in an equitable way — which we fully support — so this letter focuses on the longer-term challenge of jumpstarting economic recovery and transitioning to a more sustainable economy. The question isn’t whether we will next need a major economic recovery stimulus, but what kind of stimulus should we pursue? In response we, climate and social policy experts in academia and civil society, have developed a menu of solutions that would collectively comprise a Green Stimulus.

The United States confronts the danger of an economic stimulus that restores — or even deepens — our reliance on fossil fuels. This danger comes from explicit proposals to bail out the fossil fuel sector and roll back workers’ rights, and also from generic general stimulus policies that do not take climate into account. Indeed, infrastructure spending as usual — e.g. highway expansion — will lock in more carbon pollution for decades. We can avoid these problems by crafting a recovery that accelerates the creation of a 21st century green economy.

Thus, we propose an ambitious Green Stimulus of at least $2 trillion that creates millions of family-sustaining green jobs, lifts standards of living, accelerates a just transition off fossil fuels, ensures a controlling stake for the public in all private sector bailout plans, and helps make our society and economy stronger and more resilient in the face of pandemic, recession, and climate emergency in the years ahead. This stimulus should be automatically renewed annually at 4% of GDP per year (roughly $850 billion) until the economy is fully decarbonized and the unemployment rate is below 3.5%. A Green Stimulus would make short-term interventions, restructure political and economic power towards workers and communities, and build toward deep long-term change.

Most of the physical work proposed here cannot begin immediately. We must focus on halting the spread of deadly illness. However, we can do all the preparatory work now to make green projects “shovel ready.” Right now, legislative action as well as planning work, done safely through online channels, including public debate and consultation, can ensure that physical projects can commence as soon as it is feasible to restart major in-person work across the economy.

This preparatory phase must include building up capacity within existing federal, state, and local government agencies (and chartering new ones as necessary) to help manage the implementation phase of this stimulus. In the weeks ahead, the government will undoubtedly pass further stimulus measures. At each step, we must push for that stimulus to be green.

Our proposal for a Green Stimulus is aligned with the “5 Principles for Just COVID-19 Relief and Stimulus,” as put forward by over 300 environmental, justice, labor, and movement organizations: (1) Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions; (2) Provide economic relief directly to the people; (3) Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives; (4) Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises; and, (5) Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

Additionally, our proposal is grounded four key strategies, cutting across industrial sectors and bureaucratic domains:

  • Create millions of new family-sustaining, career-track green jobs in clean energy expansion, building retrofits and sustainable homebuilding, local food economies, public transit maintenance and operations, electric appliance and vehicle manufacturing, green infrastructure construction and management, local and sustainable textiles and apparel, and partnering with existing pre-approved apprenticeship programs to bring more low-income and workers of color into good union jobs;
  • Deliver strategic investments — like green housing retrofits, rooftop solar installation, electric bus deployment, rural broadband development, and other forms of economic diversification — to lift up and collaborate with frontline communities, including communities of color, Indigenous communities, low-income communities, communities that have suffered disinvestment, and communities that have historically borne the brunt of pollution and climate harm;
  • Expand public and employee ownership by leveraging existing public agencies and assets (including public transit agencies, local housing authorities, public school districts, and electric co-ops), taking equity stakes in companies receiving substantial direct investment (including the airline, fossil fuel, and cruise industries), and conditioning strategic aspects of the stimulus package on worker self-determination measures and cooperatives; and,
  • Make rapid cuts to carbon pollution consistent with keeping global warming as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the climate science tells us is required to limit further climate breakdown, and protect salaries, benefits, and retirements of fossil fuel workers.

Below, we outline a menu of practical policy interventions that align with these principles and strategies. Many of these interventions could be implemented by state and local governments and would benefit from immediate, purposeful planning and preparation, nearly all of which could be done remotely (including mass public procurement, targeted bridge loans and other emergency financial instruments, and expanded tax credits and rebates for high-priority sectors). The menu includes:

1. Housing, Buildings, Civic Infrastructure, and Communities

2. Transportation Workers, Systems, and Infrastructure

3. Labor, Manufacturing, and Just Transition for Workers and Communities

4. Energy System Workers and Infrastructure

5. Farmers, Food Systems, and Rural Communities

6. Green Infrastructure, Public Lands, and the Environment

7. Regulations, Innovation, and Public Investment

8. Green Foreign Policy

This is an inflection point for our nation. This is a pivotal moment to put tens of millions of Americans back to work, building a healthy, clean, and just future. It is heartening to recognize the very broad range of technologies and policy tools at our disposal to ensure that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic can also dramatically improve the living standards of those most in need — a majority of Americans, in fact.

Moreover, a Green Stimulus agenda is broadly popular, as shown for instance by Data for Progress’s polling around the Green New Deal and green industrial policy. Their latest polling finds majority support for a trillion-dollar investment in green technology. And it finds majority support among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents for a range of public green investments — from renewable energy, to electric buses, underground high-voltage transmission, electric minivans and pickup trucks for rural and suburban areas, smart grid technology, retrofitting buildings with an emphasis on low-income housing, and battery technology.

Finally, we have the opportunity to learn from and improve on the inadequate 2008–2010 stimulus that resulted in a sluggish recovery and centered firms and companies instead of workers. We need a bigger stimulus, more investment in low-carbon projects, and more immediate relief for Main Street. Now is the time to begin the political debate, and legislative work to pass Green Stimulus policies to create jobs, lift up communities, and tackle the climate emergency as we rebuild the economy.

The co-authors of this letter, and endorsing signatories, are listed below, after our policy menu. We call on Members of Congress to consider and carry forward these policy ideas in this forthcoming and any future stimulus packages, to ensure addressing current public health crisis doesn’t exacerbate the climate crisis.

A Green Stimulus Policy Menu


  • Massively expand the federal Weatherization Assistance Program to cut utility costs and eliminate homes’ carbon emissions, fund state-level equivalent programs, and provide grants to community-based weatherization programs to scale up local efforts, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Place moratoria on electricity, gas, and water shutoffs and late fees and reconnect those disconnected prior to the crisis, and rental evictions. Suspend rent and mortgage payments, without fees, and with potential to forgive payments. This will protect the most vulnerable, from some of the immediate effects of the recession and provide indirect income support to communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities.
  • Expand funding to and beneficiaries of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, (LIHEAP), while green retrofits are underway. Change eligibility to 200–250% of federal poverty line, thus increasing program beneficiaries. Work to make enrollment automatic based on tax credits, and expand outreach to households that may not have anyone who files.
  • Repeal the Fairthcloth Amendment and infuse funds into the National Housing Trust Fund (eg, $50 billion in year 1, $100 billion year 2, $150 billion in year 3) for no-carbon mixed-income social housing, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Double tax-credits for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit affordable housing construction, mandate zero-carbon standard for operational carbon (building operations), and a low-carbon standard for embodied emissions of building materials. Fund union apprenticeship programs in communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities.
  • Pass and funding the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, to begin immediate public housing retrofits that improve living conditions, create tens of thousands of union jobs for public housing residents and other, nearby low-income workers, and create a new mass market for green building materials.
  • Commence immediate public procurement of building materials and appliances to retrofit public housing, federally funded Indian housing, and all relevant government and military buildings. Offer states, cities, and other public agencies the ability to join these heavily discounted bulk purchase orders.
  • Invest in dramatic improvements to housing conditions throughout Indian Country through healthy, sustainable retrofits, creating thousands of jobs in those communities.
  • Fund school retrofits across the country, with priority for Title 1 schools. Remove fossil fuels, install heat pumps for heating and cooling, and remove all toxic and unhealthy materials including lead, mold, and asbestos, and create tens of thousands of jobs. Increase funding for wraparound services and to make school year-round resiliency hubs for their communities, including by providing disaster relief services.
  • Establish a federal green and equitable housing fund, to partner with municipalities that invest in rent-controlled housing for low-income citizens near transit hubs.
  • Ensure government-funded construction projects take sea-level rise into account. Restore the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, and, unless required for national security, do not build any new federal buildings within 3 feet of the historic 100-year coastal flood elevation.
  • Require states to adopt most advanced current building energy codes, reach codes (e.g. “Zero Code”), and local land use and zoning reforms (e.g., the abolition of parking minimums and single-family zoning) including the provision of competitive, supplemental funding for state and local governments that adopt these reforms. Green building grants should include funding to hire staff in state and local government to internally manage the planning and implementation.
  • Enact federal zoning regulation reform to facilitate construction of both dense and affordable housing, with a priority to building near public transit, to ensure new social housing is located in walkable and transit accessible-neighborhoods.
  • Develop a subsidy and loan regime to support decarbonizing the building energy use, which would also cut utility costs for homes and businesses, and spur US manufacturing of more affordable, and efficient electric heat pumps, heat-recovery ventilation units, energy-efficient lighting, and building controls.
  • Develop a subsidy and loan regime to support decarbonizing construction materials and increasing the carbon-sequestration potential of our building stock through increased use of carbon-smart forestry, engineered-wood/mass timber, low-carbon concrete, fossil fuel free insulation materials, and increased use of plant-based build materials made from agricultural wastes and waste fiber streams, such as hempcrete, compressed strawboard, wood fiberboard insulation, etc. This would support American manufacturing, forestry and agriculture sectors.
  • Develop a national green rental subsidy program that provides incentives to landlords for passing the savings accrued from solar and energy efficiency on to tenants (i.e., rentals free of utility charges).
  • Implement a green mortgages program through all federally backed mortgage lending that includes an incentive program of 50 basis point reduction in mortgages for zero carbon emissions homes and 25 basis points for zero carbon emissions-ready homes.
  • Fully resource ($10 billion) the Public Housing Operating Fund to ensure residents employed in management and on-site jobs are protected, ongoing green retrofit and maintenance contracts are fulfilled, and that local housing authorities are fully prepared to meet their obligations to their communities.
  • Provide new funding through the National Endowment for the Arts, Smithsonian, and other federal cultural institutions to support out-of-work artists, designers, and other makers.
  • Create a Climate Justice Resiliency Fund to ensure our infrastructure and communities are protected from the unavoidable impacts of climate change. Begin with a national survey to identify areas with high vulnerability to climate impacts, public health challenges, environmental hazards, and other socioeconomic factors. Create grants for communities to fund projects to safeguard vulnerable groups from extreme weather and other environmental harms. And establish an Office of Climate Resiliency for People with Disabilities within the fund to meet specific needs of people with disabilities.


  • Provide direct transfers to local transit authorities to ensure they remain solvent, well-maintained, and ready for active service when the pandemic recedes. Local transit authorities are existing, publicly-owned and operated entities managing trillions of dollars worth of capital infrastructure, employing thousands of workers, and they simply cannot be allowed to fail.
  • Create thousands of new construction jobs by investing in projects that incentivize densification, including Equitable Transit Oriented Development with an emphasis on affordable housing, through the USDOT.
  • Revive the Partnership for Sustainable Communities interagency initiative to align local, place-based economic stimulus projects administered by the USDOT, HUD, and EPA.
  • Create thousands of new jobs by offering grants and no-interest, no-match loans to local transit agencies and municipal governments to complete their backlog of shovel-ready ADA-compliance and Complete Streets projects. All disruptive roadway work should be paired with upgrades to sanitary sewer systems and other utilities whenever possible.
  • Provide grants and loans to local transit agencies and school boards to fund the purchase of electric railcars and engines and electric buses and electric school buses, with the goal of ending all diesel bus purchases by 2025. This must also include targeted investment to support electric bus and railcar manufacturing capacity within the automobile industry in the United States.
  • Create a “Fix It First” mandate for infrastructure and public works projects, as outlined here, requiring all new USDOT funding and financing be directed towards the maintenance and repair of existing roadways, bridges, and other projects. This also includes upgrading commuter rail lines to meet Positive Train Control standards and installing dedicated bike and bus lanes.


  • Provide grants and no-interest loans to develop and accelerate US manufacturing of electric buses (including school buses), electric pickup trucks, electric cars, and other electric vehicles; and, energy-efficient electric appliances.
  • Create a federal fund to support formation of worker cooperatives aligned with the goals of rapid decarbonization, such as solar panel installation, regenerative agriculture, urban community gardens, and larger-scale urban farming.
  • Implement a Green Durable Goods policy to ensure continued production of essential green products, via massive infusion of federal funds into electric appliance, vehicle, etc. manufacturing. Use direct government purchase of high volumes of green goods to drive increases of green capacity during economic slowdown, as done during the Second World War. Give priority to manufacturers who partner with pre-approved union apprenticeship programs.
  • Create a cash for appliances program, funded at least $1 billion, modeled on the Obama stimulus measure, but mandating recycling of all old appliances with a particular focus on preventing HFC leakage.
  • Create a public option for electric vehicles, appliances, and other durable goods procurement. All other governments, co-operatives, and non-profit entities would be eligible to place individual orders through this mass federal procurement, with grants and no-interest loans to support their purchases through the Department of Commerce.
  • Create a “feebate” program to transfer a pollution surcharge to those who purchase cleaner products. Include a low-income carbon credit so that individuals making within 200% of the federal poverty threshold and in rural households receive 2x or 4x the benefit for the purchase of energy efficient models.
  • Create an expansive Women in Cleantech (WiC) training and entrepreneurial support program through the Small Business Administration.
  • Provide new opportunities for disadvantaged American green entrepreneurial training and start-up grants through the Small Business Administration.
  • Provide just transition benefits for all workers in fossil fuel industries, including five years of wage replacement for displaced workers, housing assistance, job training opportunities, health insurance coverage, pension support, and priority job placement for displaced workers. Provide early retirement support where appropriate.
  • Provide tax revenue replacement support for communities impacted by the cessation of extraction and use of fossil fuels.
  • Identify and invest in economic diversification strategies for fossil fuel regions by fully funding the project backlog at the Appalachian Regional Commission, Great Lakes Commission, and Delta Regional Authority and creating similar projects in other fossil fuel regions.
  • Provide new funding to support opportunities for low-income women to pursue advanced training, new sustainable technologies, and formation of worker cooperative businesses in women’s traditional industries, including textile and apparel.


  • Create a national clean energy standard through the EPA that applies to all power providers including rural electric cooperatives, climbing steeply to 100% carbon-free energy by 2030.
  • Restore the clean energy tax credits and offer a direct incentive to businesses, nonprofits, municipalities, tribes, and low income community members, extending the credit to energy storage so renewable energy sources can provide firm, reliable ‘baseload’ energy.’
  • Make all clean energy tax credits (including for consumers) immediately deployable; for consumers they should be immediate and refundable rebates, particularly investing in distributed and community renewable energy to build community wealth and resilience.
  • Make regulatory changes to accelerate the environmental review process for clean energy, storage, high voltage transmission, charging stations, and other low-carbon infrastructure projects, inspired by recent reforms in New York State Government, while respecting Indigenous sovereignty and ensuring no sacrifice of public safety.
  • Provide a revolving fund through a joint Department of Energy and Treasury initiative to acquire and/or purchase fossil fuel firms that are going bankrupt in order to decommission assets and provide a just transition for affected workers and communities.
  • Require a rapid phaseout of fracking and offshore and onshore oil and gas drilling, end new extraction, and end fossil fuel exports, in conjunction with the rapid expansion and unionization of clean energy generation.
  • Protect the right of clean energy workers to unionize their workplaces, and incentivize worker ownership in the sector.
  • End all fossil fuel subsidies and redirect the funds to help directly-impacted workers and communities in the energy transition.
  • Authorize Treasury, federal agencies, and other federal lenders to forgive all government-held fossil fuel debt of rural electric coops and municipal utilities.
  • Provide grants and no-interest, no-match loans to all electricity co-ops contingent on rapid decarbonization including implementation of battery storage technology at distribution and end-user levels.
  • Provide substantial finance to support the development and deployment of community-shared solar programs, which may work in tandem with the Department of Energy’s technical assistance program for community solar.
  • Plan and fund rapid decarbonization of Tennessee Valley Authority and other federally-owned power supplies, and provide logistical and financial support for a mandated decarbonization of rural electricity cooperatives and public power.


  • Strengthen organic standards and reform agricultural subsidies so that federal support goes to small producers who make investments in their communities and the environment.
  • Re-staff and fully fund the USDA and EPA science offices, and the network of agriculture extension offices, to quantify carbon reductions. Support regenerative agriculture and compensate farmers (including regenerative ocean farmers) for carbon reduction practices, such as carbon sequestration in soils, the transition to regional and local farming initiatives, and other practices based on the quantified carbon abatement or sequestration (carbon negative land use) of the practices.
  • Prevent food shortages and surpluses by establishing supply management programs and a parity pricing system for farmers that both ensures farmers, farm workers, and every worker along the food chain a living wage and ensures consumers a high-quality, stable, and ensures local supply of agricultural goods.
  • Empower the USDA to track, report, and address instances of “food deserts’’ in low-income and inner-city areas by ensuring that fair market priced goods, including organic foods, are available with similar quality and diversity as in other parts of the country.
  • Support indigenous farming practices and end biopiracy and contamination of native seeds by fully supporting the work of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) on the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) within the Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations.
  • Enhance programs for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers as outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill, to give them fair access to land and resources. Recognize historical crimes and injustices through a commitment to reparations for black farmers and indigenous communities. One such policy is to stand up a federally backed land trust to buy land from retiring farmers that would then be sold interest-free to farmers of color.
  • Incentivize community and cooperatively owned farmland to support local communities and urban residents, including by expanding USDA’s Local Agriculture Market Program, and funding food hubs and distribution centers.
  • Make government-owned farmland available as incubator farms for beginning farmers
  • Pass comprehensive legislation that provides grants and technical assistance to mitigate climate change by transitioning to independent family farming practices that are regenerative, ecologically sound, improve soil health, and sequester carbon in soil.
  • Create a new USDA program dedicated to research and policy development for ocean-based farming. Support regenerative ocean farming, a burgeoning, low-carbon industry focused on seaweeds and shellfish, including through the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program, as described in the Blue New Deal.
  • Direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service to issue new guidance and regulations to better prepare fishing industries and communities for the impacts of climate change.
  • Support the shift towards healthy food consumption, by expanding access to the quality of food available through nutrition support programs such as TANF, SNAP, and WIC and classify Farmers Markets as “essential services.”
  • Direct the Farm Service Agency to issue no-interest, no-match loans via its land contract guarantee program to ensure failing industrial agricultural land is made available to new and small family farmers whenever possible; and issue no-interest, no-match loans to fund equipment purchases, organic and specialty crop operations, and alternative farming practices.
  • Secure the rights of migrant and permanent resident workers and their families to healthcare, food, and shelter without prejudice to pathways to future citizenship.


  • Create a Clean Water Corps that provides no-interest loans for municipalities and counties to invest in repairing/replacing combined and sanitary sewer systems, building out alternative stormwater management systems (green infrastructure), and performing other abatement measures (replacing lead pipes and upgrading treatment facilities). Pass the WATER ACT.
  • Create a new Civilian Conservation Corps through the Corporation for National and Community Service, chartered to hire workers to restore ecosystems, including forests and wetlands, modeled on the California Conservation Corps.
  • Create thousands of new jobs maintaining green infrastructure and climate resilient landscapes by providing new grants and formula funding through the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
  • Electrify and modernize our ports, to reduce harmful air pollution and prepare for sea level rise, as described in the Blue New Deal.
  • Direct and fully fund the National Parks Service and U.S. Forest Service to begin planning for the climate crisis and clearing their backlog of authorized projects, with priority given those that respond to enhanced threats from wildfire, ecosystem migration, biodiversity loss, and sea level rise.
  • Direct and fully fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear their backlog of beneficial dredge, habitat restoration, climate adaptation, and infrastructure maintenance projects.
  • Direct and fully fund HUD, DOT, and EPA to fast-track the approval and implementation of local parks and open space plans through no-interest loans and competitive grants for state, local and tribal governments.
  • Provide grants to state and local governments to establish “energy parks”that combine recreation (e.g., walking and biking trails, swimming areas, etc.) with clean energy generation, storage, and transmission infrastructure (e.g., wind turbines, PV panels, and battery centers).
  • Provide funds to public community colleges, colleges, and universities to develop and implement climate risk management plans and green economy training programs.
  • Provide new permanent funding for HUD, DOT, EPA, National Parks Service, U.S. Forest Service, and other built and natural environment-focused agencies to hire new architects, landscape architects, planners, and program managers to coordinate the surge in new projects produced by the stimulus, as outlined here.


  • Capitalize a national green investment bank to provide no-income (or Fed funds rate) loans to firms and consumers for any green retrofits, low-carbon investment, etc. Minimum $100 billion for initial capitalization.
  • Immediately pass a Federal Reserve Bank Act to make green bonds as secure as treasury bills, to drive down the cost of green investment.
  • Require that any bailouts or bridge loans to large corporations, like airlines and cruise lines, be contingent on economic, social, and ecological conditions: 10-year plan to substantially cut majority of carbon pollution with targets every two years; use funds to maintain payroll; government gaining long-term preferred shares or other equity in bailed out firms; provide $15 minimum wage within one year; no share buy-backs or dividends; set asides seats on corporate boards for labor representatives; maintain collective bargaining agreements.
  • Direct the Departments of Energy and Treasury to assume a larger share of the financial risks resulting from decarbonization and price fluctuations by requiring U.S. banks to report annually how much fossil fuel equity and debt is created, and/or held as assets, with respect to all fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.
  • Diminish financial risks resulting from decarbonization and price fluctuations by instructing the SEC Office of Credit Ratings to direct credit rating agencies to impose process standard — like climate due diligences — that incorporate the physical and financial risks that climate change presents to securities and other financial assets, as well as to the companies that issue them.
  • Restore a climate test, such as the social cost of carbon, as a metric for federal procurement and permitting decisions. These tests should be consistent with the goal of limiting warming to as close as is possible to 1.5°C.
  • Reevaluate the discount rates used in all benefit-cost analyses. The discount rates currently used in regulatory analysis have not been updated since 2003, and as the Council of Economic Advisers pointed out in a January 2017 report both the economic understanding of discounting and the real economy have evolved since then.
  • Provide technical and financial assistance to state universities, community colleges, and technical schools in launching green energy and economy training programs and degree options.
  • Elevate EPA and NOAA Administrators to full Cabinet Secretary status.
  • Ensure major government green procurement purchases are both green and include project-labor agreements or prevailing wage requirements (renewable energy, storage, retrofits, low-carbon cement, etc).
  • Provide immediate federally-backed bridge loan support to green firms.
  • Streamline and fast-track permitting for offshore wind energy, and subsidize offshore wind farm projects, while ensuring projects are sited based on environmental impact assessments, and that Community Benefit Agreements are in place to ensure communities onshore of wind farms receive a share of the benefits as this industry develops. Do not allow visual and aesthetic impacts to be considered as a factor for denying permits (See Blue New Deal plan.)
  • Increase ARPA-E funding by up to 100x and look to develop parallel agencies in the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Ensure that federal research and development funds in ARPA-E include funding directed to the Mariner program to develop macroalgae for use as feedstock for fuels and chemicals, as well as animal feed.
  • Double the budgets for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Science.
  • Enable communities to invest in their own low-carbon infrastructure through state-owned public banks.


  • Reinstate and expand Science Envoy Program to assist US embassies in partnering with ministries, emerging cleantech companies, and university partnerships and exchange.
  • Expedite aid packages, including green technology transfers, with priority funds for lowest income countries that adopt national 1.5 degree C roadmaps.
  • Ensure fair trade agreements are centered on worker and environmental protections and (where applicable) include indigenous consultation.
  • Support local and sustainable farming systems in the US and internationally by removing agriculture from the purview of the World Trade Organization, investing new resources in sustainable timber and forest management cooperatives and companies through the USDA’s Climate Smart Forestry and Agriculture Initiative, and creating new markets in the building industry for sustainably harvested cross laminated timber and other sustainable wood products.
  • Classify food supply security as a national security issue and pass trade policies that safeguard food security and food sovereignty at home and around the globe.
  • End all funding, direct and indirect, of fossil fuel infrastructure through multilateral organizations connected to the United States, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OPIC, and the Export-Import Bank.
  • Increase funding to the Green Climate Fund to help grow the green economy worldwide, to make U.S. contribution to Green Climate Fund in line with historical U.S. fair share of historical contribution to climate emergency. Consider a progressive tax on the highest carbon-emitting polluters to finance this contribution.

NOTE: The ideas here draw on proposals from a range of Democratic primary campaigns, in particular those of Corey Booker, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren.


Note: affiliations are listed for informational purpose only, and do not imply organizational endorsement.

Johanna Bozuwa, Co-Manager, Climate & Energy Program, The Democracy Collaborative (@johannabozuwa)

J. Mijin Cha, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy, Occidental College; Fellow at Cornell University Worker Institute; Senior Fellow at Data for Progress. (@jmijincha)

Daniel Aldana Cohen, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2, University of Pennsylvania; Senior Fellow at Data for Progress. (@aldatweets)

Billy Fleming, Wilks Family Director of the Ian L. McHarg Center (@mchargcenter), University of Pennsylvania; Senior Fellow at Data for Progress. (@joobilly)

Jim Goodman, Food sovereignty advocate, signing without organizational affiliation

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D, Marine biologist, founder of Ocean Collectiv and Urban Ocean Lab, and advisor to the Blue New Deal plan. (@ayanaeliza)

Daniel M Kammen, Professor in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley. Former Science Envoy, United States State Department. (@dan_kammen)

Julian Brave NoiseCat, Vice President of Policy & Strategy, Data for Progress (@jnoisecat)

Mark Paul, Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, New College of Florida; Fellow, Roosevelt Institute; Senior Fellow, Data for Progress. (@MarkVinPaul)

Raj Patel, Research Professor, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; Research Associate, Unit for Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa. (@_RajPatel)

Thea Riofrancos, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Providence College; Senior Fellow at Data for Progress; Faculty Collaborator at Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2. (@triofrancos)

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