At the Clinton Global Initiative, Interface committed to expanding their Net-Works program, which engages residents in the Philippines and Cameroon in collecting and cleaning discarded nylon fishing nets. These nets will eventually become 100 percent recycled yarn [Photo Credit: Interface]

Turning ideas into action for a greener planet

This #EarthDay, learn about five projects delivering clean energy and helping our planet

By Jesse Gerstin, policy at the Clinton Climate Initiative, and Rose Winer, infrastructure at the Clinton Global Initiative

2016 was the hottest year on record.* As the planet warms, communities and livelihoods are increasingly threatened by frequent and severe droughts, storms, and food shortages.

However, despite the rapid changes happening to our planet and constant drumbeat of gloomy headlines, there are several positive global trends that illustrate how individuals, companies, nonprofits, governments, and entire industries are working to make a difference. For example:

  • The price of clean wind and solar energy is already competitive with traditional fossil fuels;
  • An agreement to eliminate harmful greenhouse gases used in refrigerants and air conditioning has been established;
  • The airline industry has developed a first-of-its-kind plan to offset carbon-emissions from international flights; and
  • A historic agreement among 195 nations to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases was recently adopted

We know that no one person, country, or organization can solve the issue of climate change alone. That’s why the Clinton Foundation is doing its part to bring partners together to drive action — from working with small island nations on the frontlines of climate change to connecting members of the CGI community who have committed to greening supply chains and reducing waste from landfills.

Keep reading to learn about five programs that are fighting climate change.

A New Partnership to Deliver Clean Energy Solutions in Seychelles

Reliance on diesel-based electricity is expensive and leads to more carbon emissions polluting our air and water. In the small island country of Seychelles off the coast of East Africa, CCI recently announced a new partnership with Thai Union on a wastewater treatment and biogas project. Centered at their Indian Ocean Tuna factory ­– one of the largest tuna factories in the world and the largest electricity user in Seychelles — the project upgrades the wastewater treatment and generates electricity from biogas, which is captured from the treated fish sludge. The project will enable the factory to reduce its consumption of diesel-based electricity, cutting carbon emissions and reducing energy costs while creating cleaner wastewater.

Helping Farmers Mitigate the Risks of Climate Change

The Foundation’s Clinton Development Initiative (CDI) coordinates community-led efforts for farmers to quickly adapt to the effects of climate change. Through agroforestry and reforestation activities, CDI is helping to reduce the risks local communities face from climate change through benefits derived from the management of land and trees, while also providing farmers with opportunities to increase their incomes. CDI currently works with more than 150,000 smallholder farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania in efforts that will help make them more productive and resilient to climate change.

Transitioning Small Island Nations to Clean Energy

Saint Vincent, like many other island countries, depends on expensive imported diesel fuel to generate electricity. That’s why the Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) is working with the local government, utility, and private companies to develop a 10-Megawatt geothermal power plant that would supply approximately 65 percent of the island state’s electricity needs. Geothermal energy works by tapping into volcanic activity close to the earth’s surface to harness steam that spins a turbine. CCI has worked with the government on the legal and regulatory framework for the geothermal project in Saint Vincent, helping to establish a public-private partnership model and enabling the government to access financing for the project.

A New Fleet of Electric School Buses in California

At the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America meeting, organizations like National Strategies LLC, PJM Interconnection, Ernst & Young LLC, and their partners committed to helping three California school districts transition to battery-electric school buses without increasing costs. The zero-emissions buses will not only improve air quality and the environment, but they will also generate funds for the school districts because they put electricity back into the grid. The project hopes to have an eight-bus demonstration fleet deployed in California by 2019.

Turning Ocean Waste into Opportunity for Families in the Philippines and Cameroon

About 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear is discarded into oceans every year, causing lasting damage to marine life. At the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Interface committed to expanding their Net-Works program, which engages residents in the Philippines and Cameroon in collecting and cleaning discarded nylon fishing nets. Participants sell the nets to Aquafil, a supplier of Interface, so it can be turned into 100 percent recycled yarn — used to create carpet tile.

This program not only reduces marine plastic waste, but also provides an additional source of income for local communities. Since its inception, Net-Works has collected and shipped 125 metric tons of discarded fishing nets to its supplier, and given 900 families access to finance. Interface is developing the tools to make Net-Works scalable and replicable around the world, aiming to better protect 1 billion square meters of ocean by 2020.