Ukraine’s First Climate-Finance Bank, The Conflict and Environment Observatory, Volt Energy, Cole Haan Makes Shoes from Dandelions!

by | Feb 28, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Ukraine’s first climate finance bank, plus the Conflict and Environment Observatory. Volt Energy, and Cole Haan makes shoes from dandelions!



Just like the rest of the civilized, democratic world, we at The Climate Daily stand with the people of Ukraine during this terrible invasion by Vladimir Putin and the Russian Army. Our way of showing solidarity is to highlight for you some of the burgeoning work in climate change combatting the Ukrainians are doing–were doing, and hopefully will get back to doing soon.

In January 2021,Ukrgasbank–a Ukrainian bank established in 1993–received an investment of approximately $36 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the sister organization of the World Bank. The purpose of this investment is to further the bank’s mission “to help local companies make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, as part of wider efforts to combat climate change in Ukraine.”

Ukrgasbank began its transformation into a green bank in 2015 when the country launched reforms of its financial institutions because of an economic crisis. Ukrgasbank’s Chairman of the Board, Andrii Kravets said, “Green banking offered us a unique opportunity to be a pioneer in a market that was largely undeveloped, that lacked green finance expertise.”

According to its website, Ukrgasbank’s goals are to strengthen the role of clean energy and energy efficiency as well as popularize “green” ideas in Ukraine. Its main objective is to help local companies make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, as part of wider efforts to combat climate change in Ukraine, creating value for the main shareholder and benefits for the society. 

The bank claims to be committed to making green energy accessible and affordable to everyone in the state. By creating a flourishing green energy marketplace, we contribute to a better quality of life, a better environment and a better future for all. 

The investment in Ukrgasbank helped finance its first ‘green’ grant in 2021. The grantee was an experienced farmer from the Odesa in Ukraine’s southern region.  The grant helped him to purchase new more fuel-efficient machinery which reduced harmful emissions as well as fuel costs.

Why does Ukrgasbank matter to us? It’s an example of private banks and NGOs collaborating to fight climate change through investments  in restoration of critically damaged environments. Moreover, it’s proof the green banking sector is viable. 




The Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), a UK charity, launched in 2018 driven by the principle that access to reliable environmental information is vital in relation to armed conflicts. The central objective of CEOBS is to awaken the global community to the reality that conflicts and military activities have grave environmental and humanitarian consequences.

CEOBS monitors a range of environmental issues linked to conflicts and military activities  These have recently included initiatives on biodiversity and conservation, the legal framework, and the legacy of explosive weapons, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons.

To tell the story of how war affects the environment, CEOBS uses satellite images and innovative monitoring techniques to track incidents and trends by militaries and armed groups. 

Reports and analysis help to increase compliance by the international community of laws protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts. Notably, the charity is observing Russia and its approach to the environment, peace and security.

Last week, CEOBS commented that Europe is right to be concerned about the Russian invasion because of Ukraine’s 15 aging Soviet-designed nuclear reactors. Due to heavy Russian military equipment rolling through the Chernobyl exclusion zone disturbing the topsoil, gamma radiation has risen and exceeded the control levels.

Why does Conflict and Environment Observatory matter to us? The work of the CEOBS matters because it reminds us that war is hell, as well as hell on the climate, too. 

DEEPER DIVE: CEOBS, Green Matters, London Loves Business, HRW  



In 2006, Gilbert Campbell III and Antonio Francis had an opportunity to help a wind developer do sales in North America. Through that process of working with wind power, Campbell recalls that he “started to understand that clean energy makes sense.”

So, in 2007, the two co-founded Volt Energy in 2007.  Volt Energy is a national minority-owned solar energy firm located in Atlanta, Georgia. It develops, finances, and builds rooftop solar and solar carport projects. The company has 12 field offices in 18 states. Some of their projects include such high profile names as:

  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • The U.S. Army
  • Subaru
  • District of Columbia Government
  • Wake Forest University
  • Howard University

The success of Volt Energy allows Campbell and Francis to go back into their communities and talk realistically to students about the career potential of the solar energy industry. Additionally, owning the company allows them to speak to BIPOC communities honestly about green entrepreneurship and its importance for reducing the carbon footprint in the US. 

Volt Energy recently partnered with Microsoft on its first environmental justice and renewable energy initiative. According to a press release,, “Volt Energy will supply Microsoft with 250 MW of utility-scale solar energy, which supports Microsoft’s goal to have 100% renewable energy supply for all its operations by 2025.”

Why does Volt Energy matter to us? Volt Energy is an African American-founded energy solar development firm acting as a major player in that industry. And its work with Microsoft addressing environmental equity issues is noteworthy. Let’s hope Microsoft is not its last customer re: climate justice and equity.

DEEPER DIVE: Volt Energy, Dylan Green, Solar Power World Online



Cole Haan has launched the Generation ZERØGRAND II shoe, made out of dandelions.  Actually, the shoe is made from dandelion-derived rubber, called FlowerFoam™. The rubber is part of the shoe’s outsole and contains more than 25% of the natural rubber. This is the latest material the apparel company is developing in its quest for eco-friendly sustainability.

Ironically, the Russian Dandelion is the only one of its species that can produce this natural rubber. Thankfully, the Russian dandelion is found in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, not in Russia.The rubber is derived from milky sap gleaned from the dandelion’s root. During WWII, this same process was used by the U.S., Russia and Germany to make latex.

Cole Haan’s chief creative officer Scott Patt says, “I think the great thing about dandelions, and the creation of dandelion rubber, is that dandelions are a renewable resource. “Along with natural, dandelion-derived rubber, the Generation ZEROGRAND II  incorporates about 21% of recycled content in the upper part of the shoe and about 85% recycled content in the fabric covering the shoe.  Cole Haan CEO Jack Boys says that the company “is, now, publicly committed to do our part in contributing to positive change going forward.”

Why does Cole Haan’s dandelion shoe matter to us? The majority of the 300 million shoes that end up in landfills yearly contain non-biodegradable materials and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, so….

DEEPER DIVE:  Change Forward, PR Newswire, The Ethos