Earth Day 2022: Celebrating Climate Champions
When it comes to climate change, it’s easy for the conversation to fall solely on the myriad of problems without giving proper attention to solutions. This Earth Day, Net Impact wants to celebrate the champions who are not only talking about climate solutions, but implementing them. Based on the shared commitment of making the world more just and sustainable, our members are at the forefront of detecting the problems in their community and coming up with solutions. Here are their stories:
Advancing Decarbonization Efforts in California
Evan Mallah is a senior studying Economics at the University of California, Berkeley where he is a Vice President of the Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter. Passionate about decarbonization, Evan helped lead his chapter’s consulting project with the electric utility Southern California Edison (SCE) to tackle two of their decarbonization objectives: tackling emissions from buildings and improving access to electric vehicle chargers in multifamily homes.
Twenty-nine percent of US carbon emissions come from residential and commercial buildings, primarily from heating. To help decarbonize buildings, Evan and the UC Berkeley Chapter conducted primary research with pipefitter union workers to understand key objections to electrification. They also discovered which electrification companies SCE could partner with and used census data to identify historically disadvantaged communities where SCE could focus its electrification efforts.
For the EV charging objective, the Chapter helped address the Catch-22 scenario that’s impeding multifamily buildings to install EV chargers. “Property managers won’t invest in charging infrastructure if tenants don’t have EVs and tenants won’t buy EVs if there is no charging infrastructure,” explains Evan. As a result, access to charging infrastructure is a major impediment to the 30% of Americans that live in multifamily homes -- and for the ability for EVs to scale. To help remedy this incentive misalignment, the Net Impact Chapter conducted surveys with property owners in SCE’s service territory and used the findings to build an EV infrastructure incentive strategy based on property owners' interests.
Earth Protectors: Building Climate Change Awareness in Nigeria
At the University of Port Harcourt Net Impact Chapter in Nigeria, Chapter Leader Anyanwu Joseph is spearheading two climate-focused initiatives: the Bye Bye Plastic Bags Campaign and a Climate Change Awareness Class. Both projects are part of his larger campaign called Earth Protectors, which aims to teach youth to learn about the climate crisis, identify an issue they are passionate about and develop a solution to take action. The program focuses on building multi-stakeholder buy-in in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change and ecosystem destruction happening in their community. Over the last five years, his program has engaged more than 200 students and driven a variety of community initiatives including tree planting, plastic recycling, and ocean clean ups. In explaining the impact the program has on his community, Anyanwu explains it has “helped promote a transformative shift in thinking by reawakening our consciousness to sustainable behavioral change.”
Every two months, Anyanwu uses his own money to buy waste bins for local schools in his community, which are lacking in proper waste management systems. When he delivers the waste bins, he uses the opportunity to talk to young people about environmental health, their right to a healthy environment, and how to become environmental leaders themselves. Anyanwu is a Youth Advisory Board Member for Amnesty International, an Ambassador at Stop Ecocide International, and the Founder of Boma Nigeria, an organization working to accelerate action across all SDGs with a focus on grassroots activism.
Bringing “The Triple Bottom Line” to Life
“Integrating ESG Programming from the very start can change the way the world views business, equity, and life. I've seen it and it can be done.” This is what Jenny Morgan, a member of the Net Impact Seattle Professional Chapter, says about her work.
In 1994, John Elkington - the British management consultant and serial entrepreneur - coined the term “Triple Bottom Line,” the idea that people, planet, and profits should undergird the core purpose of business. A project manager by trade, Jenny Morgan has turned this idea into not only a reality but a lifelong career. Her many accomplishments include leading employee engagement strategy at one of the largest tech firms in the world and becoming an entrepreneur, herself. She also created an Environmental Equity Event Management Playbook that helps event organizers commit to a zero-waste event, reduce their CO2 emissions, and turn events into mechanisms to ethically support the local economy.
Her side hustle? Managing and operating her own consulting company, Pact Three, which works with companies who are seeking to become more conscious towards the community, planet, and their employees. Creating custom plans for each client, Pact Three offers services such as impact assessments, ESG Programming, B Corp Certification support, and even “Green Trivia” for teams to put their environmental knowledge to the test in a fun and interactive way.
Jenny also serves as the Community Engagement Chair at the Green Software Foundation, a non-profit with a vision to change the culture of the software industry so sustainability becomes a core priority to software teams, just as important as performance, security, cost, and accessibility. (Think: triple bottom line but for the software industry.) Through her management of partnerships, content, and programs, Jenny supports the distribution and adoption of the Green Software principles and practices. These principles and practices have a common goal of reducing carbon emissions from software development and creating infrastructure to measure and report Software Carbon Intensity (SCI) scores.
Join us in celebrating these climate champions this Earth Day and by taking action on climate yourself. As Dr. Elizabeth Ayana Johnson advises with her Climate Venn, ask yourself “What brings you joy? What are you good at? And what is the work that needs doing?” The intersection of these three things is what you should do.
If you are interested in working with like-minded individuals to take action against climate change, get involved with your local Net Impact Chapter. Learn more, by visiting: netimpact.org/chapters