2019 Keeling Curve Prizes Award Innovation in Climate Action #CleanTechnica Exclusive

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Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money are awarded to projects across the globe that have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase uptake.

The Keeling Curve Prize (KCP) is a global warming solutions project. The KCP organization is named for climate science pioneer Charles Keeling, who took continual measurements of CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The curve is based on decades of these measurements, and this spring, atmospheric CO₂ levels hit over 415 parts per million – the highest levels in human history.

The KCP team continues to bring clarity to the climate change problem. They attempt to alter our perceptions about global change and the degree to which the Earth can absorb the human assault.

And what better way is there to do so than to award 10 projects per year @ $25,000 per project?

The KCP team believes that our duty to draw down emissions and slow global warming requires the success of an evolving network of solutions. They say that, without swift implementation of wide-ranging and divergent strategies, we won’t decelerate global warming and its consequences.

An international panel of judges from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors selected 2 winners in each of this year’s 5 prize categories. Winners of the 2019 Keeling Curve Prize range from a company recycling CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuel — to an initiative greening India’s auto rickshaws — to a project engaging churches worldwide in climate education for young people.

The winners were chosen from almost 150 applications from all over the world.

Carbon Capture & Utilization: From emerging carbon markets to reforestation, this category is for projects that directly sequester, and in many cases, use the captured carbon as a marketable product.

This year’s winners:

  • Opus 12 (Berkeley, California) is developing a device that recycles CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels.
  • WILDCOAST (Imperial Beach, California) is working to secure a resilient
    coastline to help protect communities, economies and ecosystems from climate
    change impacts in the Gulf of California.

Energy Access: With growing global population and changing demographics, this category is for projects that promote low-cost and reliable energy as a strategy to replace and discourage the development of continued fossil fuel use.

This year’s winners:

  • Solar Sister (Great Falls, Virginia) invests in women’s enterprises in off-grid
    communities in Africa.
  • African Clean Energy (Lesotho) produces cookstoves that reduce smoke
    emissions and solar electricity for small electronics and LED lighting.

Finance: As clean energy applications evolve, so must funding strategies. This category supports projects that work to increase and improve the flow of funding across all avenues of clean energy development and deployment.

This year’s winners:

  • Clean Energy Works (Washington, D.C.) is using pay-as-you-save financing to
    help transportation companies switch to electric buses.
  • CalCEF/Nexus (Oakland, California) is forming a Qualified Clean Energy
    Opportunity Zone Fund to deploy solar, wind, energy storage, and other clean
    economy assets.

Transportation: From charging stations to freight logistics, mobility is a broad topic with vast room for improvement. This category supports high-impact improvements from personal to industry-level applications.

This year’s winners:

  • Jetty (Mexico City) is using technology to establish and enforce stricter service
    standards on private suppliers of loosely regulated services in Mexico City.
  • Three Wheels United (Bangalore, India) is using finance and technology to
    decarbonize the auto rickshaw market.

Social & Cultural Impacts: This category is dedicated to the ‘human question.’ What about our cultural attitudes toward global warming need to change? Who is helping turn the tide and how?

This year’s winners:

  • World Council of Churches (Geneva) aims to provide houses of worship with
    tools and know-how to enable reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through
    youth engagement.
  • Science Based Target Initiative (Global) helps financial institutions use
    science-based targets to align their investment and lending portfolios with the
    Paris Agreement.

#CleanTechnica Exclusive Interview

We at CleanTechnica were delighted to have the chance to chat with Jacqueline Francis, founder and executive director of the Keeling Curve Prize, on the weekend when the 2019 Keeling Curve Prize winners were being recognized publicly. With the backdrop of the Aspen Ideas Festival, the announcement of the 2019 award-winning projects at Scarlett’s restaurant in downtown Aspen included videos of the finalists and discussions with climate experts alongside the KCP team.

What’s the atmosphere been like among the Keeling Curve Prize team now that the 2019 prize winners have been announced?

It’s a really exciting time for the Keeling Curve Prize team! We’re at the Aspen Ideas Festival. We’re hosting a public event where we’re having an afternoon cocktail party. That’s followed by a 1-hour presentation with our judges and several of our panelists.

It’s a real celebration. People are seeing the results of seeding climate change action. Climate often seems to be a depressing story — we’re trying to show an inspirational story instead.

What should our audience at CleanTechnica, who are interested in all things to do with clean energy, know about the Keeling Curve Prize and the 2019 winners?

Many in your audience are probably already doing clean energy or other projects, so they should consider applying to the Keeling Curve Prize in December.

They can also promote the winning projects. This is important because climate change is a huge problem, and it’s coming from so many directions. The pool is so large. Your audience is interested in energies, so check out our Clean Energy & Access category. Its purpose is to point out and shine a light on projects around the world that show promise.

The range of prize winners this year is quite expansive. Why is it important to fund climate action innovators like these prize winners across so many dimensions?

The spectrum illustrates how broad an issue is and how many solutions there are to cover. We like to say that the Keeling Curve Prize is watering the grass seed. There are so many solutions that need to be implemented. We need a diversity of approaches to flourish so that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, remove them from our atmosphere, and protect our planet for ourselves and our children.

We need people to get busy and spread the word about climate change solutions!

What can our audience do to make more visible the work and successes of climate action innovators like these prize winners?

In 2019, we intend to create a better network to expand the winners’ work. Your readers can join our e-network to learn what they can do to amplify and identify the solutions.

Also, never be afraid to talk about climate change in a confident manner. We all live on this planet with a common environment and ocean. We all need to solve this.

Many thanks to Jacqueline Francis for taking the time to speak to us at CleanTechnica.

All images copyright free via Pixabay.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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