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Energy At Dusk
Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomerberg

Renewables investment nudges out fossil fuel and nuclear

“The global clean energy transition is gaining pace as it becomes a mainstream investment option. According to the latest research from CERES on progress to a ‘Clean Trillion’ it is also one that far outstripped fossil fuels and nuclear in 2017.

In 2017 the clean energy industry reached a critical turning point. Growth and cost reductions across the sector have far outperformed expectations based on policy frameworks alone.  Dramatic reductions in cost, increases in scale, and technology improvements have fundamentally changed the dynamics of the clean energy market. Energy market dynamics have shifted in favor of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, which increasingly out-compete new fossil fuel and nuclear power sources…”

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Pit

Do you have questions about divestment and socially responsible investment?

The Land Trust Alliance provides some thoughtful information on their climate change website about divestment and socially responsible investment.  You may find it helpful when discussing whether this is a path your land trust wants to take as a moral, ethical, and financial statement.

As the financial world looks at the risks associated with fossil fuels, others are considering different investment strategies, as noted in this article earlier this year from Forbes.

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Smoke Stack
Kestral Land Trust

Example: Kestrel Land Trust takes action against climate change with fossil fuel divestment

Kestrel’s mission to conserve and care for forests, farms, and riverways in the Pioneer Valley protects the future health of our planet. They state that “the work we do is impacted by—and has an impact on—the crisis of climate change that is now defining our future. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the burning of fossil fuels is warming our planet and threatening our global life support systems.

That’s why Kestrel’s Board of Trustees voted to eliminate equity holdings in companies owning fossil fuel reserves in all of the long-term endowment accounts that support their work…”

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Smoke Stack Video Clip

Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn

With as little as 10 - 30 years to make a significant difference—or risk massive species die-off, loss of agricultural lands, forest loss, and extreme weather—I applaud the realization that we can’t continue to conserve land as if climate change is a distant issue.

“Governments around the world must take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disastrous levels of global warming, says a stark new report from the global scientific authority on climate change.

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people…”

 

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Sheep Under Solar Panels
Oregon State University

Study shows crops, forage may benefit from solar panel shade

An accidental discovery at Oregon State University may reveal how solar panels can help grow healthier crops on dryland farms.

Not only can solar power lower energy bills and increase efficiency, but the shade afforded by photovoltaic panels might also boost agricultural production on non-irrigated farmland, retaining more moisture for crops and livestock forage…

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Forbes Media Wind Farm
© 2020 Forbes Media LLC

No, wind farms are not causing global warming

If you hear pushback about wind energy, whether it’s because of the impact on birds and bats, land fragmentation, or light and sound, it’s helpful to frame your response based upon facts and in the context of what havoc climate change will wreak if we don’t slow it down.

Research is documenting we are headed towards massive species die-off, including birds and bats, if we continue on our current track to an increase of three degrees Celsius.

One of the strategic actions your land trust can take is to help your community understand the need for renewables and how they are a necessary part of the conservation solution. A good place to start? Dispel this misconception…

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Climate Change Protest
Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Where Americans (mostly) agree on climate change policies

“Americans are politically divided over climate change, but there’s broader consensus around some of the solutions.

New data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication — in partnership with Utah State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara — show how Americans across the country view climate and energy policies.

There is widespread support for renewable energy…”

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Solar Panels Sunflowers
Engie Distributed Solar

Pollinators, solar, and your land trust

There’s a major opportunity to help slow down climate change and ramp up pollinator gardens with community and large-scale solar.

The timing is critical given new research is documenting that climate change is decimating pollinators of all kinds. As one article notes, “it’s a great year for monarch butterflies [but] climate change means that won’t last.”

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C (and thus saving countless species) would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

The good news is that solar pollinator farms can make a big difference. That’s also good news to landowners and farmers who could benefit from the regular income that solar payments provide. For many, that might make the difference between selling out or staying on the land…

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Solar Panels For Pollinators
The Green Optimistic

Research: Pollinator habitats could be saved by solar power plants

Researchers at the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are studying solar energy facilities with pollinator habitats on site. Through this effort they hope to rehabilitate declining pollinator populations that play an important role in the agricultural industries. The loss of such species could result in devastating crop production, costs, and nutrition on a global scale.

Currently, pollinators are responsible for pollinating nearly 75% of all crops used for food. However, because of the increase in man-made environmental stressors, their population continues to steeply decline.

The research team has been working on examining the potential benefits of establishing species’ habitat at utility-scale solar energy facilities to resolve the problem.

They have found that the area around solar panels could provide an ideal location for the plants that attract pollinators

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Committee On Land Trust Hearing Frank San Nicolas PDN
Frank San Nicolas/PDN

Politics: What’s Allowed?

“Can land trusts do advocacy?

Yes! Land trusts can advocate for policies that support conservation — and it’s one of our most important jobs. Think about it. Our elected representatives make decisions about conservation that can open huge opportunities — or shut them down. So, land trusts need to be just as good at building relationships with our elected officials as we are at building relationships with major donors and landowners.

People in land trusts often question whether it’s legal to get involved in politics. The answer is YES, you can advocate on issues, legislation, and ballot measures. But you do need to follow some relatively simple rules. Here’s an overview of the law…”

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