Kigali Amendment ratified by U.S. Senate, plus meet climate champion, Cheryl Dorsey. Net Zero vs. Carbon Neutral vs. Climate Positive
Kigali Amendment Ratified by U.S. Senate, Climate Champ–Cheryl Dorsey, Net Zero vs. Carbon Neutral vs. Climate Positive
KIGALI AMENDMENT RATIFIED BY U.S. SENATE
With rare, bipartisan support including a phalanx of Republican lawmakers, the U.S. Senate voted 69-27 Wednesday in favor of ratifying a key international climate agreement that will significantly curb global warming and, climate advocates say, could serve as a springboard for further emissions reductions.
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is a binding agreement to reduce production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are also potent, short-lived greenhouse gases. President Joe Biden is expected to soon sign the agreement, something he has called for since his inauguration. The United States would join 137 other countries in an agreement that is projected to prevent substantial additional warming by the end of the century.
“I am thrilled to see the U.S. rally to the support of this vital agreement,” John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, who, as U.S. Secretary of State, helped forge the initial agreement in 2016, said in a written statement.
“Businesses supported it because it drives American exports; climate advocates championed it because it will avoid up to half a degree of global warming by the end of the century; and world leaders backed it because it ensures strong international cooperation,” Kerry said.
CLIMATE CHAMPION, CHERYL DORSEY
Last week, Jeffrey challenged one of his alma maters—Harvard University—to stop lollygagging and declare its intention to become net zero by 2035. This week, we’re spotlighting one of his classmates precisely for consistently taking bold action in the social justice and climate spaces.
Meet Cheryl Dorsey. Cheryl is the current president of Echoing Green—an organization that works at the intersection of social justice and social innovation, seeding and unleashing next-generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems, according to its website.
Prior to leading this social impact organization, Cheryl was a social entrepreneur herself and received an Echoing Green Fellowship in 1992 to help launch The Family Van, a community-based mobile health unit in Boston. You and she have something in common in that way, don’t you?
That’s right. Back in the 1970s and 80s, my uncle, Dr. Huerta C. Neals outfitted an RV and drove it throughout poor neighborhoods in Jersey City, New Jersey, servicing his elderly patients.
Seems like great minds think alike. In 2002, Cheryl became the first Echoing Green Fellow to lead Echoing Green. Why does Cheryl Dorsey matter to us? Here’s a direct quote from one of her admirers, Attorney Kathleen Behan, “Cheryl Dorsey is a true early visionary in the movement to expand and invest in social entrepreneurship. At a time when she had all the skills and talent to do anything, go anywhere, and turn her own brand into an IPO, she chose a route that has changed the world, one person and project at a time.”
Why does Cheryl Dorsey matter to us? If we all aspired to be a Cheryl Dorsey, we could do some serious damage in limiting the worst effects of climate change while developing adaptable and resilient communities.
NET ZERO VS. CARBON NEUTRAL VS. CLIMATE POSITIVE
I got some great responses from some of our listeners to my message to one of my alma maters—Harvard University—imploring it to declare its intention to become net zero by 2035. A handful of folks were kind enough to chide me for not recognizing American University for having beaten Harvard to the punch because American claimed the title of First University to go carbon neutral back in 2018.
I appreciate those remarks. And while I appreciate the profound impact American University has by becoming first to achieve such a remarkable goal—not to mention two years ahead of schedule—carbon neutral is not the same as net zero.
Carbon neutral means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere from a company’s activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed. So, carbon-neutral refers to balancing out the total amount of carbon emissions. That’s usually done by purchasing carbon offsets. A carbon offset is an action intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity, especially when quantified and traded as part of a commercial program. Like a reforestation program.
Whereas Net-Zero or Net-Zero carbon emissions mean that an activity occurred in which no carbon was emitted from the get-go; therefore no carbon needs to be captured or offset. For example, a company’s building running entirely on solar, and using zero fossil fuels can label its energy as “zero carbon.”
Truthfully, the ultimate goal is Carbon Negative, or a better way to put it, climate positive. When we as individuals, we as companies, universities, and communities remove or capture more CO2 from the atmosphere than we even emit, then, and only then will we have created a negative amount of carbon emissions and positively impact the climate. Is it possible? Whether it is or isn’t I cannot say, but, I think it can be done.
Will it be easy? Hell no. And that’s why we should do it. Precisely because it’s hard.