The Big Boost Climate Project

Jeremy Leggett is a social entrepreneur who has been campaigning for action on climate change for 25 years. We’re supporting his latest project…

Time is running out for us. We have to speed up. My idea begins with the publication of a declaration in an international newspaper, signed by more than a hundred of the winners of the world’s environmental prizes, saying why we believe the global community can no longer delay meaningful action on global warming, and calling on foundations and philanthropists to throw at least a part of their endowments into the fight while there is still time.

If some of them respond, this would provide the first of the two new pools of capital for bankrolling climate action. If companies and investors see foundations and philanthropists leading this way, they too may join in.

Given that most greenhouse-gas emissions come from fossil-fuel use, much of that new money would go to building new clean energy projects and companies, and boosting existing ones. The key to the second part of the idea is that beneficiaries of the new capital would only receive that money if they donate 5% of their profits to the same mission: fighting global warming. That provides the second new pool of capital.

If the project succeeds, the prize will be huge and enduring. If clean energy is to replace fossil-fuels to the extent that will be needed to win the war on global warming in the years ahead, some clean-energy companies will grow like the stars of the internet age, and other new kinds of companies will also be set up, many of them rooted in community ownership. As well as fighting global warming, the profits for all these entities will be promoting development in poor countries, big time.

I know this idea can work, in principle. I have done it, in microcosm, with the solar energy company I set up because of my concerns about global warming and other aspects of fossil-fuel dependency, Solarcentury. We give 5% of our annual profits to a charity we created, SolarAid, which has itself created a retail brand, SunnyMoney, that has become the biggest retailer of solar lighting in Africa in just a few years, knocking out oil use for lighting. As we grow, SunnyMoney will be recycling 100% of our profits to the mission.

To start the campaign, I need to raise £30k in the next month. Most of it will pay for the publication of the declaration. Any left over will go to a PR campaign to help all the declaration signatories – many of the most experienced and respected environmentalists in the world – follow up on the declaration. (And yes, they have already agreed to sign it!).

Why can’t Solarcentury pay this £30k? Because I only own 9% of the company. Why can’t SolarAid pay for it? It’s a brand new idea. We didn’t pitch it to our existing funders.

If you have any questions, I will be running a Q&A on my website: http://www.jeremyleggett.net/about/campaign/

My e-mail is jeremy.leggett@solarcentury.com

Please help if you can.

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