Climate is the overarching governor of earth's resources that enables and sustains our lives. Our climate and atmospheric resources are under threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable land use changes. We are working to mitigate and advance climate change by:
- Bringing leading climate science and economic analysis on carbon pricing to inform U.S. and global policies.
- Assisting the University of Illinois and its Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES), which brings cities solutions to urban stresses through its growing network of research and practitioner partners, in building a partnership network to serve the region.
- Collaborating with Discovery Partner Institute's Global Center on for Clean Energy and Equitable Transportation Solutions (CLEETS) to bridge our network around clean energy, climate change, transportation, real estate, and land use planning.
- Partnering with Blacks in Green to support equitable, community-based solutions and as an ally to the Region 5 EJ Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center.
- Working with Earth Knowledge to help guide decision-making based on planetary intelligence around Earth's systems.
- Assisting the Open Footprint Forum in convening sustainability and technology experts in a GHG emissions data management workshop.
- Bringing together experts through our Sustainable Wealth Management conferences to discuss investment considerations amidst the transition towards resilience, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change.
Climate Change and Economic Policy - Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan within a Global Compact
Greenleaf works with Professors Roy Wehrle (former senior economist for President Kennedy and professor emeritus at University of Illinois-Springfield) and Don Wuebbles (leading climate scientist and professor emeritus at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) to address the urgency in addressing climate change and to inform carbon pricing discussions. The report and supplemental materials, Addressing Climate Change Using a Carbon Tax & Dividend Plan within a Global Compact, builds on the National Energy Transition Plan, which compared the merits of carbon tax and dividend plans and identified a path forward for the United States to rapidly decarbonize while ensuring a fair transition. This report combines a domestic climate policy with a new international approach, led by the U.S., to protect current and future generations from catastrophic climate impacts.
Recommendations on a Climate Club and Carbon Surcharge Transfer
Climate scientists and policymakers warn of deep and irreversible damage to Earth if we do not take immediate global action on climate change. In this report, Drs. Roy Wehrle, Francine van den Brandeler, and Don Wuebbles make recommendations for successful negotiations at COP26 based on extensive research for domestic and global climate policy.
Parties to the Paris Agreement can address the climate crisis by making greater commitments, partnerships, and investments and through these three imperatives:
- Guarantee major greenhouse gas reductions. Nations need to go beyond volunteered pledges to required commitments. Many actions are needed, but by far the most effective will be to put a price penalty on carbon emissions. Over 65 countries, regions and sub-national jurisdictions are adopting carbon pricing mechanisms; those failing to act will be left behind in global trade and technology.
- Create a level playing field so that exports of large carbon reducing nations remain competitive with nations still using mostly fossil fuel energy.
- Assure substantial financial assistance to developing countries so they can protect themselves through adaptation and mitigation.
Supporting Equitable Participation in Sustainable Solutions for Communities
Blacks in Green (BIG), a pioneering nonprofit organization that serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders, is leading the design and development of energy-efficient, self-sustaining, green villages. Greenleaf is partnering with BIG to support equitable, community-based solutions centered in clean energy and the Sustainable Square Mile model – a whole-system solution for the whole-system problem common to Black communities everywhere, and considered the gold standard for Black community economic development. BIG teaches its neighbors to be their own emergency management system here in the Age of Climate Crisis by building new green economies in horticulture, energy, housing, tourism, and waste, and measures success by an increase in household income of residents along the way.
Addressing Climate Change and Urban Stresses with Sustainable Urban Infrastructure
While we maximize efforts to mitigate climate change, we must also adapt to threats and disruptions already occurring, with special attention to the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionally impacted. For example, Greater Chicagoland is vulnerable to a range of climate-related risks, from more intense storms to more extreme heat. These risks are unequally distributed across its population; solutions must integrate equity concerns. Greenleaf’s current focus is on mitigating heat stress and associated air quality issues in part by advancing the planning and development of green infrastructure, clean energy technologies, and cooling centers among other improvements to underserved communities. By collaborating with researchers, urban planners, funders, and entrepreneurs with deep community ties, we aim to support communities in developing their adaptation to climate change.
Greenleaf supports the University of Illinois’ Center on Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES), led by Dr. Don Wuebbles, a Greenleaf board member. The university-wide initiative will help cities address urban stresses with solutions informed by its leading research and its network of partners. Since its inception in late 2017, Greenleaf has met with and advised the Center on strategy, partnerships, and development efforts and continue doing so to establish program work. Greenleaf supported the August 2019 workshop at the Discovery Partners Institute with research and practitioner experts to address energy, water, and climate issues faced by cities of all sizes. In 2022, we supported their recent convening of many communities across Illinois in a Community Project Lab providing guidance on sustainable infrastructure solutions and resource support related to water, energy, and climate change resilience.
Protecting People from Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Our work with investigators on the links between environmental toxins and human health is guided by Dr. Janet Hock, Greenleaf board member and past lead of the Maine Institute of Health. While the connection between soils and nutrient delivery to crops is of special interest, so are concerns over chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Greenleaf board member Dr. Sabina Shaikh is co-leading research into endocrine disrupting chemicals and their association with diabetes. And we are working with researchers who are investigating the association of neurodegenerative diseases with cyanobacteria from algal blooms, such as in Lake Erie. Their work is representative of what Greenleaf will bring to its Healthy Soils network of policy and practitioner leaders as we work to mitigate the unintended harmful causes of prevalent human illness associated with environmental exposures.
As the world continues to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also witnessed unprecedented devastation linked to our changing climate, from wildfires in California to hurricanes in the South. One thing these two crises have in common is that they can only be solved if nations unite behind the science and collaborate with each […]
Every investor and investment manager who recognizes the importance of managing risk should read the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission report – Managing Climate Risk in The U.S. Financial System. It concludes that climate change poses a severe threat to financial systems and that financial regulators must address these risks immediately. The number #1 priority […]
Greenleaf bridges expertise in science, policy, and business to advance solutions for a healthy and sustainable world. On August 17th, we presented on climate mitigation and adaptation, a ‘One Water’ approach in northern Illinois, and building resilient agricultural systems for soil health, carbon sequestration, and water quality/quantity benefits. John Andersen led off by reflecting on […]
By Dr. Roy Wehrle, Dr. Don Wuebbles, and Dr. Francine van den Brandeler (full report available here) The existential challenge of a rapidly changing climate requires America’s leadership, vision and innovation to bring on decisive and unifying national and global climate policies. The adoption of a Carbon Tax and Dividend approach is a necessary component […]