1 Year After the Paris Pull-out, Profit-Driven Carbon-Elimination is Stopping Climate Change

1 Year After the Paris Pull-out, Profit-Driven Carbon-Elimination is Stopping Climate Change
Lily Backer
1 Year After the Paris Pull-out, Profit-Driven Carbon-Elimination is Stopping Climate Change

It’s hard to believe that a year now has passed since President Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement — the landmark international accord to combat climate change. While Trump cited economic reasons for the pullout — claiming that the Agreement created ‘draconian financial and economic burdens’ on the United States — the business community disagreed.

Shortly after the withdrawal, a coalition of U.S. economic, education, and local government leaders pledged they would continue to abide by the Paris agreement regardless of America’s withdrawal, forming the We Are Still In movement. The coalition represents 120 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy, with many being Fortune 500 companies. This fall, many of these individuals and groups will congregate in San Francisco at the Climate Action Summit led by Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg to discuss how we can get climate solved.

To be viable, climate solutions must be profitable. And they can be, thanks to profit-driven carbon elimination.

We live in a capitalist society, and markets matter. Despite the fact that unchecked capitalism drives many of the challenges exacerbating our climate conundrum, aligning environmental goals with market forces is our best path to salvation. When we can focus capitalistic  financial growth into a climate-conscious direction, we can scale solutions much quicker than we otherwise might.

The energy industry is shifting to a new paradigm where capitalist interests are aligned with long-term sustainability — it is now significantly profitable for businesses to prioritize reducing carbon emissions. Carbon Lighthouse applies that belief to buildings. Other companies are attacking the same carbon emissions problem in their own respective industries, from lab grown meat to electric transportation, materials recycling, 3D printed homes, and more.

In the United States alone, buildings drive nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to U.S. Green Building Council, more than any other sector. Across the U.S. non-residential building landscape, we estimate that about $100 billion in ‘Efficiency Reserves’ exist because up to 55 percent of annual energy spend can be eliminated, using today’s technologies. The value escalates considerably when supply technologies, such as solar, are feasible onsite. Inspired by Big Oil, we view Efficiency Reserves as another kind of valuable energy reserve. Carbon Lighthouse exists to extract and produce efficiency from the built environment, and to share that value with building owners.

After applying ‘Efficiency Production’ to more than 500 buildings across 16 states, we’ve managed to eliminate the emissions equivalent of six power plants — or 1,800 tanker trucks worth of gasoline. In 2017 alone, we signed under contract the equivalent of nine more. Some of the organizations we’ve helped benefit from profit-driven carbon elimination include Alexander & Baldwin (A&B), a Hawaii-based publicly traded REIT and Kilroy Realty Corporation, a California-based REIT.

The alignment of profit and sustainability is gaining attention from the business community, as evidenced by our recent raising of a highly oversubscribed $27 million strategic growth round by some prominent investors — including GRC SinoGreen, JCI Ventures; Pierre Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative; Steve Girsky, former Vice Chairman of GM; and JB Straubel, Tesla’s Co-Founder and current CTO, to name a few.

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement was a mistake. But we are inspired by the businesses, local governments and other organizations that recognize we can and will stop climate change through innovative, market-driven solutions.

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