Cap And Trade Ceres Clean Trillion Campaign urges investment in clean tech

Published on January 16th, 2014 | by Tina Casey


$36 Trillion Push For Clean Energy Investment

January 16th, 2014 by  

Oh, the irony. With the devastating coal-related West Virginia chemical spill barely a week behind us, hundreds of leading investment and financial executives gathered at the United Nations for the Investor Summit on Climate Risk on January 15, to focus on the opposite of that: a $36 trillion effort called the Clean Trillion Campaign, to transition the global economy out of fossil fuel dependency and onto a more safe and sustainable path.

The Clean Trillion Campaign is the brainchild of Ceres, the not-for-profit sustainable investor organization which also hosted the Investor Summit on Climate Risk. CleanTechnica was invited to come along so here are some of our takeaways, through the lense of the West Virginia episode.

Ceres Clean Trillion Campaign urges investment in clean tech

US Currency (cropped) by (401) K 2013.

Adapting Business To Address Climate Change

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who spoke at the event,  singled out the US coal industry’s current woes to illustrate how business strategies that are “based on trying to preserve the status quo” are heading into deep trouble, and he urged the fossil fuel industry to “be proactive and adapt.”

Those are lessons apparently yet to be learned both by the company responsible for the spill, Freedom Industries, and the private water supplier affected by the spill, West Virginia American.

To recap the West Virginia spill briefly, last week the chemical Crude MCHM, a foaming agent used to wash coal and other minerals, entered the West Virginia American’s intakes on the Elk River, making its way into homes, businesses, and everything else with plumbing across a nine-county area with 300,000 residents.

The economic damage is still being toted up, but in the meantime it’s clear that long running gaps in federal oversight combined with weak state regulations to form a perfect platform for the Keystone Cops-esque response of the two companies involved, both of which fell far short in the categories of emergency prevention, preparedness, response, and communications (tip: follow Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward, Jr. for updates at @Kenwardjr).

Investor Summit On Climate Risk

If the West Virginia debacle represents the status quo, the question is how to get the ball rolling in the other direction. From the investor perspective, that means there has to be a clear path and a level playing field for clean energy investments, which of course translates into legislative action.

Given the political obstacles to hurdle, this is where the Ceres summit could make a real difference.

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and investor/activist Tom Steyer kicked things off by urging the attendees to think and act like they are the agents of change. Simply put, they asked investors to start talking about climate change to everyone with whom they come into contact, including their elected representatives.

Rubin noted that although more people understand the facts about climate change, they haven’t internalized that information to the point where it translates into action, namely, into political pressure.

Considering the force of the climate change denial movement in the US Congress, we think that’s a bit of an optimistic assessment. Be that as it may,  Rubin asserted that business can play a key role in creating pressure for change, as business leaders are members of the “chattering class,” the people who get face time with elected officials and who have a direct impact on policymaking.

Steyer, who is also founder of the organization NextGen, made a complimentary point about reaching individual voters by zeroing in on local issues where their votes have a direct impact on local elected officials and on their US House of Representatives members, “grinding it out on the ground” as he puts it. In his experience, elected officials will respond to calls for change if and only if they think that the change involved is the votes of their constituents.

That’s where business can play a role, by reaching people with their concerns about local issues. As Steyer puts it, “we should ask people in this room to deal in the reality of where we are now and realize the power of business in this conversation.”

The Clean Trillion Campaign

The Clean Trillion Campaign name refers to closing the gap that Ceres has identified between the $36 trillion in transformative investments needed by 2050 to prevent catastrophic climate change, and where we are now.

The campaign provides investors with tools for managing climate risks in their portfolios and investing in clean energy opportunities, while encouraging them to engage with companies on climate change.

Specifically, the campaign contains ten key rallying points:

1. Develop capacity to boost clean energy investments and consider setting a goal such as 5 percent portfolio-wide clean energy investments
2. Elevate scrutiny of fossil fuel companies’ potential carbon asset risk exposure
3. Engage portfolio companies on the business case for energy efficiency and renewable energy sourcing, as well as on financing vehicles to support such efforts
4. Support efforts to standardize and quantify clean energy investment data and products to improve market transparency
5. Encourage “green banking” to maximize private capital flows into clean energy
6. Support issuances of asset-backed securities to expand debt financing for clean energy projects
7. Support development bank finance and technical assistance for emerging economies
8. Support regulatory reforms to electric utility business models to accelerate deployment of clean energy sources and technologies
9. Support government policies that result in a strong price on carbon pollution from fossil fuels and phase out fossil fuel subsidies
10. Support policies to de-risk deployment of clean energy sources and technologies

You can find out more about the Clean Trillion Campaign at,  and be sure to check out Ceres’s BICEP campaign, too.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Fusion and Directed Energy for a Dynamic Approach

    December 5, 2013 • 1:32PM

    Download the report.

    There is currently no defense of Earth from future asteroid and comet impacts.

    The aim here is to provide an overview of a systemic defense capability, necessitating an increased capability encompassing the entire territory of the inner Solar System. While the basic nature of the challenge has been treated in some depth by our “Basement” Research Team, Lyndon LaRouche has recently placed a new emphasis on the deeper systemic challenges involved and the need to reexamine the specific role of Mars in mankind’s future in the Solar System, as in his new writing, “Turnabout: The New Strategy for Space”

    The needed methodological approach needed to properly deal with large systems of asteroids is classified as “dynamic” …

  • Idaho power cloud seeding program 2012-13

  • CaptD

    JUst to be clear, using Nuclear is not something that forword looking good Leaders should consider:

    The Japanese people have N☢ say, yet but that may soon change:

    Here is what Former Japanese PM Kan (1), Gregory Jaczko (2) the Former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and 2 other Nuclear Experts (3) had to say at a June 4, 2013 seminar in San Diego,CA, “Lessons for California” which was based upon what they experienced as the Leaders “in-charge” when 3/11/11 occurred:




  • CaptD

    Expect Political “Backlash” sponsored by the Big Industries that are not Big Solar:

    GOP guts EPA Regulations

    Changing safe levels and/or regulations has been done by the Japanese but it has only made things worse for the Japanese People who are now finding out from previous PM’s that the people have been lied to by the industry about Fukushima:

    Former Prime Minister of #Japan: We’ve been lied to, #nuclear experts lying to us…They’ve been telling a pack of lies

  • CaptD

    Smart Money is betting on a sure thing: Solar (of all flavors)…

    The investment marketplace has become much more tech savvy and those managing investment portfolios will not want to be seen as supporting Gross Polluters like Big Coal, Big Nuclear and or Big Fracking, especially since there is big money to be made in renewable energy:

    One perfect Japanese example of what will no longer be acceptable:

    Japan is now suffering with a Trillion Dollar Nuclear Eco-Disaster, yet many of their Leaders consider that, in effect, Radiation is “no BIG deal”:

    Polluted Ocean, N☢ Problem, it will become less polluted after a while….

    Polluted Fields, N☢ Problem, farmers can remove the radioactive upper layer

    Polluted Air, N☢ Problem, people can wear paper masks for a while

    Polluted Food, N☢ Problem, people should mix the good to dilute the bad

    Polluted Homes, N☢ Problem, people can power wash them clean

    Polluted Schools. N☢ Problem, students and teachers can clean them

    Polluted Cities, N☢ Problem, residents will be able to return soon…

    • Peter Moss

      There is still over capacity in the solar PV manufacturing industry. That doesn’t really make it a good time to invest unless you want to speculate.

      • CaptD

        I was talking about Utility “Smart Money” investing in Solar (of all flavors) instead of Big Coal and/or Big Nuclear, both of which are now seen as either DIRTY and/or RISKY or BOTH, especially in the distant future, where Solar (of all flavors) will rule energy generation!

  • Regarding the West Virginia spill, I predict that in 2037 the case will be settled in court….

  • Steeple

    What is it about the Clean Energy movement that makes leaders think they have to lead like at a Vietnam peace rally at Berkeley? The UN? $36 Trillion? Seriously?

    How about just continuing to do the boring but effective technical work of just continuing to make solar and wind more and more competitive? These technologies obviously work economically in high energy cost markets like North America, and hopefully these technical advances will translate here over the next few years.

    No parades. No manifestos. Just do the work and let the markets do the rest. We need more engineers and fewer Poli Sci majors involved here.

    • Peter Moss

      Yes, more engineering is clearly what is needed as well as some research.

      Actually, what is needed most is R&D in energy storage which has lagged behind wind and solar PV. I understand that the molten salt battery will soon go into prototype level production and produce two sample shipping container size units. This shows great promise if the price is sufficiently low.
      Also, it doesn’t look like the cost of solar PV panels (Dollars/Watt) needs to decline a lot more. However, design engineering to reduce the total installed cost is clearly needed since in a home installation, the cost of the panels is now a small part of the cost.

      There is also a need to design more long term reliable under 10 kWatt inverters (longer MTBF). Currently, that means designing them without electrolytic capacitors because there are no electrolytic capacitors that have ratings with a sufficient MTBF under those operating conditions.


    • Matt

      So we are only 10-20 years and a trillion dollars from a working prototype. Oh wait that is where we were in 1981 when I came out of undergrad. We might be a little close, Europe is building a prototype, lots of cost and time overruns so far. Not clear when it will begin testing. Lets say they do get it built by 2020, and then spent 5 years testing and tweaking, another 10 for a industry design to be created and approved. And 5-10 to site and built one. I cut 5 years assuming thing go real well. The ribbon cutting on the first plant is 2030-2040. Might help in second half of the century, but it isn’t now (sorry NOW!!!). And if we haven’t made real progress on climate by then, the only option left will likely be a massive experiment in GEO-engineering.

      • Peter Moss

        While it if fairly certain that the ITER will work, it is still only an experiment. You are correct that it will take many years before success with the ITER will result in a prototype commercial plasma fusion power plant.

        However, it appears that it is also likely that Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (incorrectly called Cold Fusion) and the Three p-B11 fusion projects will probably result in commercial products before a plasma fusion power plant goes on line.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No all caps please. And no links without some explanation why one would wish to open.

    • Ross

      If you think a mini ice age is here then why the urgency for fusion power?
      Try to avoid being so obviously inconsistent.

      • Peter Moss

        I don’t get it either. We have enough Thorium for at least a Thousand years.

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