Climate Crusader–Yonette Fleming! Climate Tech–Waterplan, Chemicals Industry Pathway to Combatting Climate Change!

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate crusader, Yonette Fleming! Plus in climate tech–Waterplan, and chemicals industry pathway to combatting climate change!



I love how learning about one person inevitably leads us to learn about somebody else. Somebody who is the foundation for a movement, or somebody who stands on the shoulders of a great movement starter. In this case, we at The Climate Daily discovered the latter in Yonette Fleming. Fleming,  aka “Farmer Yon”, is an urban food justice farmer and lifelong musician and food justice instructor at the Farm School, NYC.

It was Fleming, who in 2009 expanded the Hattie Carthan Garden into the  Hattie Carthan Community Garden Farm. But her quest to advancing systems of knowledge to build healthy individuals, families and communities and provide community solutions to the issue of food insecurity, health disparities and social inequities began in 2003. Fleming was born in Guyana. Both sides of her family worked the land. She migrated to Brooklyn when she was sixteen and had a career on Wall Street until her witnessing of the collapse of the World Trade Center caused her to reorient her life “back to the ways of the land.”

In real estate, there’s an old phrase, “location, location, location.” In Fleming’s case, it could be applied to her pivot from Wall Street to urban farming. You see, the story goes she had moved to a home near the Hattie Carthan Community Garden. Her daily commute took her past it. Which influenced her to investigate the legacy of the Tree Lady of Brooklyn (who The Climate Daily profiled yesterday), and soon Fleming became involved in developing programs that centered Hattie Carthan’s legacy, meaningful connection to the earth, food justice, and plants.

Why does Yonette Fleming matter to us? She represents the continuation of a legacy of Black climate activists/urban farmers in NYC. Second in a multigenerational line that she is influencing today. For example, over the last twenty years, Fleming has more than quadrupled the land of the Hattie Carthan community food projects. She expanded it to include an Herban Farm and Community Market in addition to the original Community Garden. It’s these additional ventures support youth entrepreneurship, ancestral healing practices, community earth stewardship, and beautification.

DEEPER DIVE: NYPAP, Wikipedia, Farm School NYC



In the world of Climate Tech, here’s a story from one of our media partners, Climate & Capital Media. According to research done for an article written by Heather Clancy for Climate & Capital, money is now flooding into companies seeking to solve the freshwater crisis through technology. Says Jose Ignacio Galindo, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Waterplan, “Climate change is the problem, but water is the messenger.” Waterplan is one of many San Francisco-based, early-stage software firms helping beverage manufacturers and others understand their operational impact on watersheds where they do business. 

The mission of Waterplan is to accelerate the transition to a water-secure world, according to its website. The company’s founders believe that by showing companies the business case for mitigating water risk, Waterplan will accelerate their transition to a world where companies are incentivized to save more water, abate the discharge of polluting effluents, conserve watersheds and preserve shared (read “shareholder”) value.

The company was founded in 2017 by Dr. Nicholas “Nico” Wertheimer, Olivia Cesio, Matias Comercio and Jose Ignacio Galindo. Waterplan’s product is a platform allowing companies to measure, respond and report their increasingly dynamic water risk. Measuring means continuously monitoring worldwide catchment water-related risks with up to site-level resolution. Responding means once risks have been measured, Waterplan will find the most suitable responses to build adaptation and resilience towards them. And reporting means improving transparency and informing progress towards water-security.

Why does the clean technology of Waterplan matter to us? You could say their business plan is a twist on the old adage, “What gets measured gets improved.” IOW, “Water that gets measured, gets saved.” And given that less than 2.5% of all water on earth is freshwater, and given that we’re rapidly pushing 8-billion humans, saving freshwater like there’s no tomorrow is a really good idea. 

DEEPER DIVE: Climate & Capital Media, Waterplan, US Geological Survey



Last September, the U.S. Senate endorsed a global climate treaty geared towards a dramatic “phasedown” of hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs), a major source of greenhouse gases. Regulators in Australia, meanwhile, recently introduced a new environmental management standard for its domestic chemical industry. But nowhere is the pressure higher than in Europe. In October 2020, the European Commission laid down a marker for the global chemicals industry, arguing that only with the “right chemistry” could the trading bloc’s ambition for a climate-neutral economy be met.

In late January, the European Commission published its own “transition pathway” for the industry. The 75-page report seeks to set out the economic advantages of a shift to lower-carbon chemicals (chiefly in terms of future competitiveness), as well as describing its contribution to such a transformation (e.g. strategic funding, regulation, infrastructure, skills, and so forth). 

Thomas Nonnast, a spokesperson for BASF, said, “The idea is to get to the root of the problem and focus on tackling the areas in chemical production where the most carbon is produced, rather than reformulating this product or that product – although we’re also doing that.” Energy reduction is not the only decarbonisation measure with a potential system-wide impact. Examples include greater plastic recycling and reuse, a more targeted use of chemical fertilisers, and the adoption of lower-carbon raw materials (such as renewable biomass in plastic production).

Why does a global environmental standard for the chemical industry matter to us? Because the $4.7 Trillion dollar chemical industry is estimated to have an  emissions output of  5.8% of the global total. Only steel and cement have a larger carbon footprint.

DEEPER DIVE: REUTERS, ECHA-“Chemical Strategy for Sustainability”, EC-“Transition Pathway” Report,  SystemIQ Study