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Featured News

UN Climate Talks in Katowice No. 1

Half a Degree Centigrade: The Challenge for the COP24 Climate talks in Poland.  UN Climate Talks in Katowice No. 1Nov. 29, 2018 “I am both deeply honored and a bit nervous to be Rotary's first observer delegate to the UN Climate talks, which are being held during...

Packing my Bags and Unpacking the Katowice COP

Packing My Bags and Unpacking the Katowice COP: Inspiration from the UN Secretary General.  Packing my Bags and Unpacking the Katowice COPJuly 15, 2019 I began writing this blog post December 12, 2018 early in the morning of the last day, thinking of the trek to...

COP Blog Post 7

Greta Thunberg: Speaking Truth to Power at COP24  COP Blog Post 7UN Secretary General António Guterres seated next to 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each...

Week One of COP 24 Did Not End Well, Blog 5

Week One of COP 24 Did Not End Well for Science or the Climate: If You Don’t Like the Science, Refuse to “Welcome” It.  Week One of COP 24 Did Not End WellBOTTOM LINE: On Saturday night December 8, 2018, at the closing Plenary of the Subsidiary Body of Science...

Treading Water in a Sea of Acronyms: RINGO BINGO Lingo, Blog 4

Treading Water in a Sea of Acronyms: RINGO BINGO Lingo, Blog 4  Treading Water in a Sea of Acronyms: RINGO BINGO Lingo, Blog 4On Monday December 4, 2018, with first-day-of-school jitters, Larry and I re-crossed streetcar tracks several times before we found the...

COP24 Blog 2

Into the Belly of the Beast: a just transition away from coal.  COP24 Blog 2December 4, 2018, update fromthe UNFCCC (The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) climate talks in Poland, COP 24 This map of Europe shows how much carbon is released...

Strengthening All Concerned

Key Biscayne’s Yellow Masks protect livelihoods as well as lives  Strengthening All ConcernedWhether you’re a Homestead migrant worker or a Miami seamstress, you’re now better equipped to survive COVID-19 and keep your job, thanks to the quick action of three...

Climate and Peace Forum draws audience from six continents

On Aug 6, Australians planted the Rotary flag in the vanguard of international action to save humanity from catastrophic climate change.   Climate and Peace Forum draws audience from six continentsThat night the Rotary Clubs of Sydney Cove, Sydney, and Darling...

Waste to Energy

Waste to Energy - Reuse and Renew!  Waste to Energy Rotary Club of Brampton members are working to be informed about waste management.  They toured Emerald Energy from Waste plant in Brampton Ontario, Canada.   Emerald Energy from Waste Inc. (Emerald) is a waste...

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Wildlife Corridors

Bio-links are wildlife corridors that connect patches of native vegetation. They allow wildlife to move between these patches and increase the size and genetic diversity in the breeding population.  Many Australian native animals have very specific habitat needs such...

Sustainability – a blog post

A brief exploration of the meaning of sustainability, and directions it might lead Rotary. Over recent years the use of the word’ sustainability’ has come to be applied to broader meanings than just the environment such as the economy and business. In this piece only...

What does Environmental Sustainability mean ?

No single blueprint of environmental sustainability exists, as economies, social systems, cultures and ecological conditions differ widely among countries and from person to person. However, within a range of available definitions everyone can find a framework to work...

Jennifer Jones Delighted by D 3232 Bee Hotels

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 By: Meenakshi Venkataraman

ESRAG South Asia has started collaborating with the environmental NGO ATREE on their citizen science program to increase the numbers of urban pollinators by establishing bee hotels. To our delight, this brought our pollinator project face-to-face with Rotary International President Jennifer Jones when she attended a town hall meeting in District 3232 on July 26, 2022.  Her enthusiastic response inspired RID A. S. Venkatesh, currently RI Treasurer, to call the District Governor, Rtn. Nandakumar, the next day to suggest that he double the scale of our project.

Pollination – an essential ecosystem service - is imperiled by the loss of insect populations due to the use of pesticides and other anthropogenic activities. Studies in Europe have shown that the decline in pollinator populations is affecting crop yield. We have reached a point where hand pollination, which used to be a pastime for kitchen gardeners, has become a paid job in vegetable farms across India in the quest to increase yield. But bees are doing extremely well in urban areas with multiple garden sources. 

The majority of the solitary bees roost in small cavities. ATREE consulted with Rotarians in Rotary District 3291 on how to design bee hotels and get data sent to them. We decided to expand this program to D 3232, and proposed a memorandum of understanding between the Districts and ATREE in which Rotarians would help document the kinds and numbers of pollinators in our city.

Photo: D 3232. In the center, from left: RIP Jennifer Jones, ESRAG Director Dr. Mina Venkatamaran explaining the bee hotels, and ESRAG South Asia Chapter Chair Arun Vaddi

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Now Presenting: Habitat Solar!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Rotarians have added a powerful tool that makes housing more affordable AND slows climate change: Habitat Solar, a new initiative under Rotary’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity which assists Habitat to add rooftop solar to eligible new homes. Participating families will achieve big savings on monthly electric bills and prevent hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon emissions over the useful life of their panels. By adopting Habitat Solar as a project, your Club will discover a new way to engage young people as passionate volunteers.  

ESRAG’s Renewable Energy Task Force has teamed up with Habitat International’s building science specialist Molly Berg on a manual offering field-tested advice, case studies, and links to rebates and tax credits available by state across the US. “This partnership is natural: there’s a Habitat affiliate and a Rotary Club in almost every town,” says Dr. Liz Henke, a member of East Chapel Hill Rotary (North Carolina, US), who played a crucial role in pilot-testing the idea.

“It’s huge for the family and huge for the environment,” she explains. “The typical Habitat family’s monthly electric bill in our part of the US is $100. Our first Habitat solar installation in 2020, a 5.1 kW array, is saving the family $62 a month. Here's a video with the family's testimonial!  The more electric costs rise, the greater the savings will be. More recently our local Habitat affiliate has been installing  5.4 kW arrays each preventing over 300,000 lbs. of carbon emissions over 30 years, the equivalent of planting 3,800 trees or 350,000 miles not driven by a gas-powered car.”

“Habitat is a world leader in low and moderate income (LMI) housing development,” Liz Henke points out. “When Habitat shows that adding rooftop solar is feasible, we hope other LMI developers will follow its example.”
Photo courtesy Southern Energy Management: installing solar panels for Orange County Habitat in North Carolina.  

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Efficient Building Design for 2030

Monday, August 8, 2022 By: Joey O'Brien

Buildings consume about 40% of total domestic energy and have a resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. To affect climate change we need a “whole of society” shift, and decreasing the energy footprint of buildings must be part of it. The IPCC identifies 1.5 C above pre-industrial norms as a tipping point in climate change acceleration. I regret to report that average temperature rise in the Northern Hemisphere is already 1.42 C above 1880 levels (see NASA data, later in the article).  Therefore, action is needed now, not some distant time in the future.  This article explains the benefits of energy-smart building, and ways Rotarians can promote it. 

Building codes (which I call the MINIMUM standard one should consider building towards) are shifting throughout the developed world to near net-zero for 2030-ish. We call this Near Zero Energy (NZE) building.  A NZE building is a building that can produce as much clean energy as it consumes.

A NZE ready (NZEr) building is one that is designed, modeled and constructed the same as one that is NZE, but does not yet have on- or off-site renewable energy components in place.  A core aspect of net-zero energy “readiness” is the use of improved air sealing, increased insulation levels, and high-performance windows and doors, to reduce thermal demand and facilitate appropriately-sized space and water heating equipment.

The common retort to this is “the client can’t/won’t afford it.” In jurisdictions where the trades are familiar with the steps, the increases in costs are less than 5%. In areas where traditional platform construction is most common, the costs could be 15% more. Often the costs are offset with energy cost reductions in as little as two years. NZE buildings are expected to be 80% more energy efficient than a new building constructed to today’s building code minimum. They use on-site (or near-site) renewable energy systems to produce the remaining energy they need.

Some Canadian provinces are rewarding efforts to reach for these standards now.  Natural Resources Canada (a federal government department) is encouraging action with a $5,000 grant and $40,000 interest-free loans for home energy efficiency. This is real leadership on this file.

In Canada, less than 1% of buildings can be considered NZE-r. We need to quickly scale up the number of NZEr buildings constructed each year through the adoption of ambitious NZEr building codes. Not only will this help reach our global climate commitments, it will have the benefit of generating investments in our buildings sector while offering good local jobs in the clean economy.

Canadian Rotarian Joey O'Brien is the founder and CEO of the sustainability consulting firm SustainDriven and a member of ESRAG's Board of Directors.  The graphics in this article are adapted from Efficiency Vermont.

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American Rotarians Aren't Giving Up!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Two massive setbacks this summer have crippled the US Government’s ability to implement climate solutions.  The first is the Supreme Court’s June 30, 2022 decision in West Virginia v. EPA, requiring the EPA to get explicit Congressional authority before adopting any regulations that speed up system-wide transition away from generating electricity via fossil fuels.

The second blow came in July, when it was finally clear after a year of agonizing negotiations that only 49 US Senators in the 100-member chamber were willing to support any of the climate provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation. Climate journalist Bill McKibben reported that this was the third failure by the US Congress to pass major climate legislation in the last 25 years, “all the more painful for having been so close to success,” he wrote in The New Yorker on July 16.

By killing this legislation- the most ambitious set of climate policies ever passed by the House of Representatives, and the Biden Administration's best hope for meeting its 2030 emissions targets - these 51 Senators blocked the only path the Supreme Court left open for the US Government to catalyze system-wide transition away from fossil fuels in the power sector.  Other cases moving towards the Supreme Court could severely curtail federal regulation of emissions in transportation and other sectors. 

American Rotarians Doug White, Co-Chair of ESRAG’s Climate Solutions Task Force, and John Mathers, Chair of Rotary’s Climate Action Team (RCAT) Network, point to actions we can and must take in this time of public sector failure.  John Mathers sums it up: "commit to climate action, act through projects and our civic leaders, and share results with other clubs.

The graphic comes from the home page of the climate review platform We Don't Have Time, a tool Rotarians can use to inspire climate action by businesses and governments.

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Drawdown's New, Updated Solutions, and Climate-Poverty Webinars

Monday, July 18, 2022

Press Release by Project Drawdown
After two years of study, Project Drawdown just released an update of our 82 climate solutions, and added analyses of 11 additional technologies and practices with the proven ability to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Five of the new solutions (Improved AquacultureImproved FisheriesMacroalgae Protection and RestorationSeafloor Protection, and Seaweed Farming) quantify ocean-related carbon sinks and ways of avoiding emissions. Three (Improved Cattle FeedImproved Manure Management, and Methane Leak Management) highlight the potential to reduce methane emissions. And three (Recycled MetalsRecycled Plastics, and Reduced Plastics) explore ways to reduce industrial emissions.

The updated results confirm that existing practices and technologies, if implemented quickly and strategically, can avoid climate catastrophe. Not only that, they can more than pay for themselves in lifetime savings. And many have bonus benefits for reducing poverty, increasing equity, and protecting endangered animals and ecosystems. So solving the climate crisis is both a life-saving and money-saving move for future generations.

Climate–Poverty Connections webinar If you care about climate change and human well-being, watch the just-released recordings of Drawdown Lift’s recent Climate-Poverty Connections webinars. The two hour-long events featured ten experts from around the world discussing how funders, philanthropists, and others can dramatically multiply their impact by supporting activities that alleviate climate risk while also addressing poverty and other dimensions of human well-being. Read the top takeaway messages from the series and view the videos here.

Drawdown Stories finds climate heroes and produces multimedia stories illustrating how people are applying the science of Project Drawdown to climate solutions.  Climate Solutions in Color highlights the work of people of color and Indigenous people working to overcome  impacts which are particularly severe on their communities.

IMAGINE an ESRAG Climate Summit in Costa Rica!

Sunday, July 17, 2022 By: Karen McDaniels

From June 2-4, 2023, ESRAG has the unique opportunity to partner with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), in Turrialba, Costa Rica on a Climate Summit designed for ESRAG activists who desire to lead others to become solutionists to the world’s bigger environmental challenges.  

Rooted in the mission of Inclusive Green Development, CATIE is recognized across Central and South America, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia for their cutting-edge technologies in climate analysis and monitoring of ecosystems facing the effects of climate change. With 75 years of contributions to sustainable development, researchers and thought leaders from CATIE’s global academic community will inspire and challenge participants and generously share and exchange their knowledge with us.

The Summit is designed around five of the ESRAG Themes, with the 6th theme, Circular Economy, woven through all activities and workshops at the Summit.  Attendees will choose one of the themes as their Summit Focus. You will work in teams of ten directly with a global expert to take you through a deep dive on that theme. Hands-on workshops will give you the tools to replicate an appropriate technology. 

Nestled within the rich tropical rain forest and surrounded by volcanoes, CATIE’s campus is the perfect location to experience and witness ESRAG’s mission of a world where people unite and protect the environment for a sustainable future.

Sign up here  for more information and updates. Spaces are filling up now!

ESRAG Annual Meeting Unites and Galvanizes

Sunday, July 17, 2022 By: Laurie Zuckerman

On Thursday, 23 June, ESRAG’s Annual General Meeting had something for just about everyone.

Are you concerned about what you can do to slow the newest, alarming reports from the IPPC? Please listen to Dr. Mark Eakin, Satellite Oceanography & Climatology Division, Marine Ecosystems & Climate Branch, and Coordinator of NOAA Coral Reef Watch. Here’s a link to the 2022 ESRAG AGM Vimeo Recording and Dr. C. Mark Eakin's presentation on why climate action is crucial and what you can do with your lifestyle, your business, and as a citizen to catalyze solutions.

What does ESRAG mean to you? Read more to find out what 147 people from 32 nations responded to that question at the Annual General Membership meeting!
Photo: partying by avatar in ESRAG's EXPO after the AGM, plus the technical team (from left): webinar master Ridheesh MH, Zoom tech master Gokulashirshnan S. and translators Yashika Majthia (the lady on the right) and Robert Bull (in yellow jersey).

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Singapore Rotarians Eager to Be the Solution

Sunday, July 17, 2022 By: Ambaree Majumder

Rotary’s June 18 Climate Change Conversations (RC3) conference in Singapore proved to be an exceptional event, with several unique aspects which I believe might not have happened before, especially in this part of the world. We organized this event with the purpose of creating a prototype for all Rotary events across the globe where the planet does not take a back seat, but remains the central priority, irrespective of the nature of the event. A plant-based menu, no plastic, eco-friendly giveaways and gifts, a venue with high standards of sustainability were key to this event, and we believe that these factors need to be the deciding factors for every Rotary event. 

We recruited Rotary leaders from every level - from RI President Shekhar Mehta to Rotaractors - to affirm the crucial importance of environmental work, and brought in experts to inspire and equip participants by describing projects with high potential to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience in our region.  For RC3’s first edition, the theme has been “Be the Solution” for our island nation of Singapore. Our goal is to build a community of environmentally conscious people here to discuss the undeniable magnitude of climate change and discover that solutions are just a few steps away from us.   The event was attended by 116 guests. We had Rotary members from Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei in addition to representatives from the government sector like the NPARKS, private charitable organizations like Kampung Senang and  Conscious Planet - Save Soil as well as many other individuals committed to the sustainability movement in Singapore. 

The most obvious reason for every Rotary event to be planet-friendly is because of climate change. However, another crucial incentive for us to keep the well-being of the planet on top of every other convenience and custom is that every event can be an opportunity for us to build the image of Rotary as an organization that walks the walk through exemplary actions for the rest of the world. We do not only declare “Protecting the Environment” as a new area of focus, but act it out too. Thirdly, this can potentially have a positive ripple effect on attracting many youngsters to Rotary, who are, in general, very conscious about attaching themselves to climate friendly organizations.  
Photo: PP Gladys Pang, DG Dolly Yeap, and Interact Teacher-in-Charge Gabriel Sim

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Climate Policy in Europe, and How You Can Weigh In

Sunday, July 17, 2022 By: Ingrid Hesser

The European Commission has labeled nuclear and natural gas as sustainable. Critics are calling the step "greenwashing" and say it could threaten the bloc's bid to become climate-neutral by 2050. The new rule adds natural gas and nuclear to its taxonomy of sustainable forms of electric generation when used as a transition to replace coal-fired plants.  This taxonomy could be described as the EU's green investment rulebook, intended to serve the goal of allowing the continent to become climate neutral by 2050. 

Critics say the objective of climate neutrality could be under threat, as the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, decided to give nuclear energy and and natural gas a green label under this taxonomy.The vote means that new gas plants will be able to tap into a fresh pool of money from environmental, social and governance investors, albeit for a limited time and only when those facilities are replacing coal-fired stations. It will also serve as a boost to Europe’s struggling nuclear sector, which countries like France have touted as a low-carbon energy source crucial for the replacement of Russian fossil fuels.

"European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, cannot repeat often enough how close stepping up climate action is to her heart," reports Deutsche Welle. "She described the European Green Deal as 'Europe's man on the moon moment.' She has called climate neutrality 'our European destiny.' And she solemnly proclaimed that no effort will be spared for Europe to become the world's first continent with net-zero emissions.  But as often, the devil is in the detail.  The big question is how exactly the European Union intends to achieve its goals."

Photo: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and French President Emmanuel Macron (use of this photo permitted by European Commission Audiovisual Division)

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EXPO enhances ESRAG's reach

Friday, June 17, 2022 By: Laurie Zuckerman

The ESRAG EXPO Ambassadors who welcomed RICON visitors to our virtual exhibits during the Rotary Convention see it as a vital way to advance Rotarians’ environmental work with minimal carbon emissions. “I think virtual sites and meetings are the way to connect the world, says D7170 Environmental Chair and PDG Jeff Smith. “This is important for environmental sustainability where Rotary can serve to collect and disseminate best practices.”

“I LOVE Expo and the huge potential!” says Tina Hall, PDG of D 6220. “How can we get more use of this cool space?  I would love to have a club that meets in the space OR have a club meeting where we give tours of the exhibits!"
Photo: Exhibits this year took a quantum leap in creativity.  For example, Chris Stein of Operation Pollination transformed last year's conventional exhibit booth into a magical Serenity Garden for people to explore while learning how they can protect pollinators, who are crucial to our food supply.

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Precision-placing trees to cool urban heat islands

Friday, June 17, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Taking shelter in the House of Friendship from Houston’s staggering heat, Rotary Convention-goers discovered a solution perfectly matched to Rotary capabilities: a tree planting campaign focused on mapping facts, a cost-effective solution, and sharing the story to inspire and galvanize the wider community. The ingredients: science, volunteers, an irresistible 3-D model of the city, and partnerships. 

Together with his Rotary Club, Houston Skyline, urban planner Ed Pettitt is working to overcome urban heat islands, an environmental injustice which plagues cities across the globe as buildings and pavement displace trees and fields and heat waves shatter records year after year. Climate Central has ranked Houston as the fourth worst heat island among American cities.  Pettitt has developed an Urban Heat Island toolkit as part of his doctoral research in urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University.

Heat is the top weather-related killer in the United States, according to the National Weather Service,” says Pettitt, whose urban heat island initiative was showcased as the Host Organization Committee’s environmental service project for this year’s Rotary Convention.

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Showcasing Rotary Environmental Projects at Houston Convention

Sunday, May 29, 2022

SPECIAL ISSUE:  here's your preview of events, exhibits, and breakout sessions which will showcase Rotarians’ environmental projects throughout the Rotary International Convention June 2-8 in Houston.  If you have Rotary colleagues who are going, share this newsletter with them. 

For your graphic delight, we reveal the projects featured on each of ESRAG’s six theme banners in the House of Friendship.  Thank you to everyone who shared your photos with us to inspire fellow Rotarians to protect our beautiful planet! Don’t forget to visit ESRAG’s EXPO virtual exhibits as well as our in-person House of Friendship booths 722 and 720.

Photo: the new urban apiary spearheaded by the Rotary Club di Benevento, Italy

Sign up for RAGTIME June 2

Sunday, May 29, 2022

If you’re coming to Houston this week, start your Rotary adventure with RAGTIME, from 6-9 pm on Thursday night at the Houston Downtown Aquarium.  All of Rotary’s Action Groups are participating, so this is a wonderful chance to find out about their projects and network about collaborating with ESRAG.  Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and music while you visit Houston’s aquarium.  Guests are welcome.  Book your $50 tickets here.

Photo: Justa Stove in Guatemala. ESRAG's Cleaner Cookstoves Task Force helps Rotarians choose stoves that fit the culture and economy of the community.

Vote by June 2 for ESRAG Directors

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Rotarians with an extraordinary array of environmental expertise and leadership experience are candidates for election to ESRAG’s board, with voting open through June 2.  If you are an ESRAG member and haven’t voted yet, you can access your ballot in the May 18 email from Patricia Armstrong, Chair ESRAG Nominating Committee, with the subject line “Please vote now for Open ESRAG Board Positions.”  The sending email address is mailservice@iMembersDB.com  Pat’s email will link you to the candidates’ profiles.  Click, read, and enjoy an inspiring glimpse of fellow members’ knowledge and dedication.

Photo: a Green Menstruation project in India and the Donations in Kind network in Australia are outstanding examples of how Rotarians are benefitting communities by promoting circular economy and reducing what goes into dumps, rivers, and landfills.  Dr. Mina Venkataraman, wearing the hot pink jacket, is a current member of ESRAG's Board.

Four RI Convention Breakouts Feature Environmental Projects

Sunday, May 29, 2022 By: Patricia Armstrong

ESRAG members are presenting four breakout sessions at RICON 2022. If you're attending the Convention, consider signing up for these breakouts and recommending them to Rotary colleagues who are going to Houston.  

Community Assessments for Environmental Grants, June 6, 1:30-2:30 pm:  Dr. Christopher Puttock (USA) hosts a panel sharing their experience carrying out community needs assessments for watershed, pollinator, and habitat projects.
Nuestros Rios y el Ambiente/Our Rivers and the Environment, June 6, 4:00-5:00 pm: Salvador Rico (USA) will describe successful, replicable river projects and partnerships from several countries. 
Rotaractors and Rotarians Together Make an Impact, June 7, 1-2 pm: Carlos Montoya (Mexico) brings you good news on how Rotarators and Rotarians are bridging the generational divide to develop impactful environmental projects.
Climate Change Adaptation for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), June 8, 9:30-10:30 am:  Michael Terrelonge (Jamaica) and an expert panel will share information on the impacts, implications, and responses of SIDS, a group of 85 nations which are disproportionally vulnerable to climate change.  The talk will outline actions to mitigate the impacts and build resilience.

Photo: spearheaded by Rotarian Nathan Thomas, DG 2022-23 for D7710, the U.S. nonprofit All We Are has provided solar electricity to over 100,000 people in Uganda and equipped local teams to maintain it.

Annual Meeting June 23, Vote by June 2 for ESRAG Directors

Thursday, May 19, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Nine remarkable Rotarians have volunteered their expertise and passion for environmental solutions as candidates for ESRAG's board.  You can read their profiles in the email sent this week by Dr. Pat Armstrong, ESRAG Chair-Elect.  Look for a message from "Patricia Armstrong Chair ESRAG Nominating Committee" and this email address: mailservice@iMembersDB.com to read their profiles.  Voting is now underway and will continue through to June 2.  Pat also gave notice of the 2022 Annual General Membership Meeting, which will be held June 23 at noon UTC.  Watch for her email providing the Zoom link closer to the date. 

The candidates come from North America, Australia, Europe, and Africa and bring an incredible breadth of experience in business and non-profit management, Rotary leadership roles, and environmental solutions.  They are committed to helping ESRAG reach its potential in engaging and equipping Rotarians to achieve maximum good in catalysing timely and effective action to mitigate climate change and other global crises such as plastic pollution.  Please open your email, click on the link, read the profiles, rejoice at the experience and skills they offer, and vote for the seven you think are best qualified for ESRAG's leadership needs at this time.

Maryland students' huge win on food waste

Thursday, May 19, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

If food waste were a country, it would be the third worst emitter of greenhouse gas emissions of all the nations in the world. That fact failed to intimidate a team of school children in the US state of Maryland, who’ve proven they can reduce food waste in their schools by 80% or more. Building on their success, they convinced their state government to pass a new law allocating $250,000 to expand Rotary’s Lunch out of Landfills program to schools across the state.  Despite the country’s bitter partisan divisions, the students’ proposal passed unanimously in the Maryland State Senate, then by a vote of 127-4 in the House. The legislative support was so powerful that the Governor, Larry Hogan, scheduled a public event to sign it into law April 22, the day before Earth Day.  
On left: Maryland Delegate Jared Solomon of Montgomery County talking with student advocates at the state capitol.  Rotarian Joe Richardson is on the right, in ball cap. Photo by Erica Weiss.

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Rotarians Learning to Live Within Planetary Means

Thursday, May 19, 2022This issue highlights how Rotarians are discovering and teaching their communities ways to live within the limits of our planetary means, with several stories fitting the ESRAG theme of Sustainable Living.  As the projects described here - from Kenya, the US, and Oceania - show, smart solutions vary according to the local environment, culture, and patterns of consumption.  You'll also discover opportunities to learn and network at the upcoming Rotary International Convention in Houston.  Here are this month's articles:
  • For Safe Water, Just Add Sunshine
  • Maryland Students' Huge Win on Food Waste
  • Calculate your Club's Carbon Footprint
  • Lessons from the IPCC's Report on Climate Change Mitigation
  • Four ESRAG Breakouts at the RI Convention!
  • RAGTIME June 2
  • Annual Meeting June 23; Vote for ESRAG Directors by June 2
We postponed the June 3 Green Road to RICON conference due to low enrollment. Watch for upcoming newsletter announcements of the rescheduled virtual event later this summer. If you're going to Houston, let us know so we can email you the time and place of an ESRAG dinner party.  Don't forget to visit ESRAG's House of Friendship booth #722 and send all your friends to discover some of the exciting environmental work Rotarians are carrying out across the globe.  And if you're not going to Houston, come see us in 3D at ESRAG's EXPO virtual House of Friendship!
Photo from Lunch out of Landfills:  Maryland students heading to their state capitol to advocate for a bill funding school-based composting

For Sustainable Safe Water: Just Add Sunshine

Monday, May 16, 2022 By: Gunilla Ostberg

Everything starts with safe water. Rotary Clubs are using an innovative solar-powered water treatment kit to save lives and improve living conditions for families who desperately need access to safe water in Kenya. The ESRAG Europe initiative "Solar Safe Water" not only provides them with clean water, it also supports all seven of Rotary’s Areas of Focus in one single action. For a donation of $145, you can provide a Kenyan family a Solvatten solar water heater that will provide a family safe water for seven years.  “Solvatten is one of the brightest examples of climate solutions that are making a real difference,” said Christiana Figueres, who served as Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC from 2010-16.  Using a Solvatten heater to disinfect water promotes sustainable living by reducing families’ dependence on firewood and charcoal they previously needed to boil water. Not only does this technology reduce carbon emissions and disease-causing smoke exposure, it saves families money on fuel.

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Calculate your Club's Carbon Footprint

Sunday, May 15, 2022 By: Garry Fowler
ESRAG Oceania has launched a carbon calculator for Clubs in Australia and New Zealand to use to calculate their carbon emissions from meetings, events and projects. Developed by an ESRAG international team from New Zealand, UK, US, and Australia with an international environmental consultancy, the calculator provides certifiable emission factors which are applied against the actual data submitted by the Club.  The online tool includes an input form for Clubs to submit estimated data, typically for a year, on emissions sources including meals, electricity at the venue, waste, local travel to meetings, events, and projects, overnight accommodation, and air travel. The input form includes detailed instructions on how to quantify the data required.

Once the Club’s data are submitted, ESRAG Oceania uses the calculator to apply the appropriate factors for the region. The Club then receives a detailed report which shows the emissions annually and by event, summarised into the various categories.  Clubs are then encouraged to develop an emissions reduction plan, and to offset remaining emissions by investing in carbon credits generated by social enterprises that support the environment - typically tree planting or forest regeneration.  The carbon calculator toolkit, including an overview, the input documents, and an example which can be downloaded, is on the ESRAG Oceania website.

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Turkish Rotarians Catalyze Circular Design

Monday, April 18, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Rotarians  and Rotaractors in Turkey are sponsoring a series of four annual Circular Economy design competitions in partnership with universities, nonprofits, and corporations. The competition emphasizes interdisciplinary work and raising awareness of the importance of transitioning from a linear to circular economy. This contest offers design teams the opportunity to win a significant cash award and recognition.  2022’s theme is “Design for Reuse,” with awards scheduled to be announced in May.

Contest sponsors see innovative design as essential to overcoming “planned obsolescence, black box designs, [and] disposable products… leading to problems such as climate change, environmental pollution, and inequality of opportunity worldwide…. At this point, the importance of alternative design approaches and solutions that help bring products back to the economy has been understood again.”  

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This Earth Day: How Rotarians Embrace Circular Economy

Monday, April 18, 2022

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report on Climate Change Mitigation, released by the UN on April 4, combines hope and urgency. “The decisions we make now can secure a livable future,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming.”  “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 C,” added IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. 

Circular economy -- “using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling products and minimizing waste” -- is one of the solutions highlighted in the IPCC’s April 4 press release. Rotarians have huge potential to catalyze circular economy by teaching our networks how its strategies save money and reduce emissions.  This issue highlights some of the many ways Rotarians are implementing circular economy in Turkey, Australia, the United States, and Canada.  

Also in this issue: exciting events at the upcoming Rotary International Convention, the huge success of ESRAG's April World Environment conference organized by the ESRAG chapters for Eastern Europe, Middle East, and South Asia, and other events. May this Earth Day be the start of breakthroughs!  

Photo by ESRAG Plastics Solutions Chair Lori Cloutier:  Gary Nakamura and Kimi Kinoshito are part of the Rotary Club of Poulsbo's Trash Talk Task Force, in the US State of Washington, who have collected 40,000 pounds of polyethelene to be made into decking and park benches instead of going into landfills. 

Principles and Promise of Circular Economy

Monday, April 18, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Watch Dr. Yasar Atacik's March 30th presentation to ESRAG’s Projects Webinar for an empowering introduction to the principles of circular economy. He shares research, solutions, and encouraging news on public policy and industrial trends. He also describes a number of projects Rotary clubs can implement to foster circularity.

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Join PRIP Ian Risley at ESRAG's June 3 Conference!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Invite everyone you know who’s going to Houston to sign up for ESRAG’s “Green Road to RICON” conference. Headlined by Past Rotary President Ian Riseley, this June 3 conference offers an array of inspiring speakers illustrating the many ways Rotarians are working to protect the conditions essential to life on our planet.  It’s a perfect introduction to Rotary’s newest Area of Focus, the Environment.  Show your friends this delightful video invitation in English or Spanish, by ESRAG’s Communications Chair-Elect Laurie Zuckerman.This June 3 ESRAG conference will be especially valuable for District Governors Elect, District and Club Foundation Chairs, and Rotarians working on international  and local environmental projects. 

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Repair Café

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

How do you keep clothes, coffee makers, and damaged furniture out of landfills? Recruit a few handy friends, and start a local Repair Café! Started in Holland by Martine Postma in 2007, Repair Cafés are now popping up worldwide, with over 2,200 in operation. The website, readable in Dutch, English, French, German, and Spanish, is packed with practical advice and creative solutions.  By empowering their communities to fix stuff instead of throwing it away, Rotarians will reduce emissions from mining, manufacturing, and transportation.

“It’s a lot of fun to get together on a Saturday morning,” says John Adams, the environmental chair of the Rotary Club of Wellesley, Massachusetts, which holds Repair Cafés quarterly “Basically you call your friends who know how to fix stuff.” Next: invite the public, borrow a community space, and get ready to tackle anything from gluing the ear back on a beloved toy rabbit to actually fixing a toaster.

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Banff Marathon World-Class in Sustainability

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Imagine a giant sports event drawing 10,000 people over three days – and not one piece of trash going into the landfill in its wake.  That’s just one of the sustainability achievements of the Banff Marathon, now known as the “World’s Greenest Marathon,” with the honor of becoming Canada’s first member of the UN Sports for Climate Change initiative in 2019. This is thanks to Canadian environmental consulting firm SustainDriven, led by ESRAG Director Joey O’Brien.

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Filling Wish Lists, Not Landfills: Smart Logistics Leverage Successful Foreign Aid

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Too often, quality goods from hospital beds to school desks end up in landfills across Australia when institutions buy new equipment or businesses discard unsold inventory. Rotarians have developed smart logistics to match these goods to the wish-lists from developing countries. Now they’re asking for modest contributions from Clubs to overcome a major barrier:  sharply-rising shipping costs.  District 9800’s new Multi-Club Container Project offers Clubs an affordable way to share in overseas success and rebuild enthusiasm battered by the pandemic.  Even better: by joining forces Rotarians can achieve a bigger and more durable humanitarian impact than Clubs can working alone. 

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Indian Club Launches Rotary E-Rickshaw Project

Thursday, February 10, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

On Jan. 19, Rotarians in Ulwe Node in India’s Maharashtra State handed over the keys of a three-passenger electric rickshaw to a delighted youth, uneducated and previously unemployed. Their donation of this vehicle will be his path out of poverty.   The fact that it is electric will slash his operating costs by 60%, compared to a diesel-powered auto-rickshaw. The students he ferries to and from school will pay significantly lower monthly fares.  This is the first electric passenger auto-rickshaw to be promoted by any Rotary Club in South Asia.

His rickshaw won’t emit diesel exhaust, a factor in India’s terrible burden of lung and cardiovascular disease. Even if he recharges with coal-generated electricity, the E-auto rickshaw will be responsible for 25 fewer tons of CO2 emissions over its 10-year useful life than a diesel model.   As solar-powered electric charging stations come online in India, these electric rickshaws will be even greener. 

The potential impact of adopting this innovation is huge. “India has close to 2 million 3-wheeler passenger auto-rickshaws that are approved by Regional Transport Offices (RTOs),” explains solar engineer Jaideep Malaviya, Chairperson in Renewable Energy and Climate Change for D 3131. “It is a common form of urban transport as a vehicle for hire and private transport in many countries around the world. Rotary's 7th Area of Focus  'Protecting the Environment' fascinated the Rotary Club of Ulwe Node and members decided to pool funds to undertake this unique project on a pilot basis with the aim of generating mass awareness amongst auto-rickshaw drivers and also addressing climate change.”  
Photo: Beneficiary receiving the keys from D3131 District Governor Pankaj Shah.

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Ready to Relish RICON? Represent ESRAG!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

If you’re eager to connect with worldwide Rotarians – either in-person or virtually – sign up to tell them about ESRAG June 4-8.  We’re now recruiting ESRAG volunteer hosts, both for our in-person exhibit at the Rotary International Convention (RICON) in Houston and for our online 3D meeting and resource center.  If you’re a topic expert, working on environmental projects with your Club, developing a District Environmental Committee, or fostering an ESRAG Regional Chapter, RICON is a perfect opportunity to share your enthusiasm and expertise. You can inspire other Rotarians by showing them they have the power to help preserve the planetary conditions essential to human life and livelihood.

If you’re going to Houston, let Karen McDaniels know if you can volunteer for a shift in our House of Friendship exhibit: to explain how ESRAG equips Rotarians, and to recruit members. She also needs volunteers to bring their tablets to other places where Rotarians congregate between meetings and show them how to enter and explore our 3D virtual exhibits, which illustrate the fantastic array of knowledge and technical assistance ESRAG’s members, Task Forces, and Regional Chapters provide to Rotarians around the world. 

If you are ready to dive into RICON without generating the carbon emissions associated with going to a big convention, join the ESRAG team volunteering in ESRAG’s 3D online meeting and resource center.  What we create together will be available to everyone on every continent, free, for 2022 and beyond. Contact Laurie Zuckerman to explore how you can help.  The picture above gives you a tantalizing glimpse of ESRAG’s 3D House of Friendship, created last year and now being updated and expanded for the Houston Convention. Klas Holmlund of ESRAG Europe is preparing a witty training video on how to navigate in this 3D world, so you’ll be right at home meeting others there and sharing ideas.  Looking forward to seeing you – face-to-face or by avatar – in June!

Roadmap for Launching an Eco Club

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

By Joe Hentges, Assistant Rotary Coordinator, Zone 26 

Cause-based Rotary Clubs are relatively new. PDG Michael Drake, a longtime Rotarian in Tucson, AZ (D5500), was interested in starting a club focused on environmental service and solutions. The challenge was to bring together interested and committed people to meet the needs of the community in an effective and sustainable way. Wanting to also introduce new members to Rotary, he noted, “People may not know anything about Rotary, but they do know about environmental issues.” The new club  - named "Tucson Verde" or "Green Tucson" - would dovetail nicely with Rotary’s growing focus on environmental issues. 

Emphasizing fellowship and the sense of belonging, the strategy they used was a huge success.  87% of the charter members were new to Rotary.  Almost half attended District Conference just two months later.  

Joining Michael as new club champions were PDGs Ellie Patterson and Kirk Reed. Together they planned a recruitment process to assure success and, “share the enjoyment of Rotary with others.” Their process can be a useful guide for those interested in starting a new club. 

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ESRAG Projects Seminar Feb. 16 - Pumped Hydro Energy Storage

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 By: Christopher Puttock

In this presentation, Peter  Bubik will explain the Pumped Hydro Energy Storage technology, look at existing projects around the world, talk about the opportunities and challenges in Alberta, and look to the future of how this technology will help in the process of decarbonizing Canada's economy.  The seminar starts at 2:00 pm UTC, 8:00 am Evanston time. Register here.

Peter’s Bio: Peter Bubik is an engineer focused on the development of renewable energy projects. He has served in many roles ranging from technical support, siting, development to construction supervision, project management and due diligence work. After graduating from engineering at the University of Calgary, Peter commenced his career in renewable energy with Canadian Hydro Developers working on run-of-river hydro power plants and moving on to wind power development. Later with Hatch, Peter led engineering teams supporting wind power developers from early-stage development to construction and commissioning.

In 2012 Peter co-founded Turning Point Generation - a company focused on permitting and developing a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) project in Alberta. In summer of 2018, Alberta Utilities Commission approved Alberta's first ever PHES project - TPG's Canyon Creek PHES project and in 2021 TCEnergy purchased all shares in Turning Point Generation. Peter, his wife and their four children live in the beautiful Crowsnest Pass Alberta, but are currently on a multi-year assignment in Peter’s native Czech Republic where he works as Project Manager on Near Zero Energy Buildings, energy storage and renewable projects.

Here are the topics scheduled for ESRAG's upcoming Projects seminars:

  1. Feb. 23:  Club/District Projects:  Susquehanna River, Owls, Imperilled Butterflies
  2. Mar. 2:  Planetary Boundaries, Dr Gunilla Östberg, 1:00 pm UTC
  3. Mar. 9:  Russian River and other projects to be announced
  4. Mar. 16: Forest Restoration in Southwestern Australia, Tristan Campbell 
When you register for an event in the ESRAG Projects Seminar series, you’ll be added to the email list for updates as speakers are scheduled. Check the ESRAG Events page as well.  

Climate Risks: Making choices. Feb. 15 Climate and Peace Forum

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 By:

Three experts  will illuminate actions we can still take to avert the danger of climate change accelerating to points of no return, in this latest international webinar of the Climate and Peace Forum presented by the Rotary Clubs of Sydney, Australia on 15th February at 6:00 pm, AEDT (UTC + 11).

Admiral (Ret.) Chris Barrie, Adjunct Professor of Strategic and Defense Studies at the Australian National University (ANU), will discuss climate change and sovereign risk and how these will impact Australia and the Pacific, Bangladesh, Europe and the world.  International environmental law expert Zara Bending, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University,  and Will Steffen, Emeritus Professor at ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society, will join Admiral Barrie in discussing the dangers of inaction and what we can still do to avert climate change tipping points.

Register here, free! at If you can’t attend in real time, visit the website later to watch the recording. 

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International Cooperation and Climate Action: RCAT Monthly Forum

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Cooperation between countries is essential to addressing the climate crisis. Despite concerns about the results from COP 26 in Glasgow, climate advocates have to understand how global cooperation has arrived at its current state, and how it will influence immediate future climate actions.  At this monthly RCAT forum, speaker Nathan Cogswell will give an overview of the international climate collaboration process, starting with where previous international efforts have failed, to explain why the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is organized the way that it is. The UNFCCC - and the role of all countries and subgroups - are key to recognizing the actions Rotarians must take in advocating with their local and national governments to assure we meet the emissions targets for 2030 and beyond. 

Nathan Cogswell is a Research Associate with the International Climate Action Initiative and a core member of World Resource Institute’s work on the UNFCCC process. His research and work is focused on supporting the UNFCCC negotiations and implementation of the Paris Agreement’s rule-based regime, focusing on transparency, accountability and capacity-building.  He holds a Master of Arts in Environmental Resource Policy from the George Washington University.   Reserve your virtual seat here.  

Seeing for Themselves: Engaging Communities in Climate Solutions via En-ROADS

Monday, February 7, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

“Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” said En-ROADS Ambassador Nate Mills at an ESRAG Climate Solutions workshop Jan. 25.  Instead, Mills explained, it’s more effective to put them in charge: “Give them a way to see the problem, what they can do, and how to interpret the results.”

Mills then introduced participants to the En-ROADS simulator  developed by Climate Interactive, the Sustainability Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Sloan School of Business, and Ventana Systems.  This free, online tool provides a graph showing how global temperature will rise if current trends continue.  By adjusting sliders, you can see the impact of applying 30 different policies, such as carbon pricing, improving building efficiency, and changing the mix of energy generation. The global temperature graph shows not only how much, but how quickly a given policy would slow global warming between now and 2100.  Given the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 to avoid a calamitous tipping point, that’s an essential virtue of this simulation.

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Video Editors Wanted!!

Saturday, January 15, 2022 By: Patricia Armstrong
Volunteers wanted!!

Over the past two years, ESRAG has brought you hundreds of virtual environmental seminars and our hardworking volunteers have spent countless hours editing these seminars.

Many of these seminars are now available on YouTube and the ESRAG and regional chapter websites for you to either watch at your leisure or to show to your club or District. We are planning to curate all these seminars, so that you can easily find them on the ESRAG website.

We now need your help. Do you have recording editing skills and have some time to help us edit the recordings of the 2022 seminars? Perhaps you know someone who does. If so, we would like to hear from you. Please contact Communications Director, Pat Armstrong to explore how your editing skills could help inform and inspire fellow Rotarians for effective environmental action.

Photo:  ESRAG's Pat Armstrong, PDG Joe Otin, and Rotary International Projects Officer Lauren Marquez-Viso explaining the process of applying for Rotary Foundation Global Grants during their virtual breakout session for the RI Virtual International Convention in 2021.


Geothermal Energy Jan. 19 and Other Upcoming Biodiversity + Seminars

Friday, January 14, 2022 By: Christopher Puttock

The next Biodiversity + presentation, January 19 at 2 pm UTC (7 am MST) will first focus on climate change, offering several easy-to-understand talking points identifying the science. The next section will describe various types of low-carbon energy sources and their economic modeling. The final section will offer examples of club and district projects that can be replicated.  Register here and click "Read More" below to learn more about Joey’s work and upcoming Biodiversity + topics.

Canadian Rotarian Joey O’Brien, a member of ESRAG's Board, is the president of SustainDriven, an innovative provider of environmental consulting and event operations that executes sustainable water, waste, global greenhouse gas and energy solutions – including for huge sporting events like the Alberta Winter Games and the Banff Marathon. In 2018 the carbon-neutral Banff Marathon, with 10,000 participants - set an industry record by diverting 100% of its waste from the landfill.

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Getting to Net Zero: RCAT Webinar Jan. 20, 4 pm Pacific Time (UTC-8)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Leaders all over the world are embracing the goal of “net-zero emissions by 2050.  For this Jan. 20 webinar (midnight UTC, 4 pm Pacific Time) Dr. Karl Hauser, Senior Fellow for the World Resources Institute’s Climate Program, will explore questions under vigorous debate:

  • Can renewables supply 100% of all energy?
  • What role should nuclear plants – existing or new – play in a net-zero economy?
  • How about carbon capture and storage:  in the power sector?  Reducing industrial emissions? In negative emission technologies?
  • How fast should the world aim to transition to a net-zero economy, and what are the policy levers?
  • What roles should states, cities, and companies play in achieving a net-zero economy?

Sign up for this Rotary Climate Action Team (RCAT) Zoom webinar here.

Analysis and modeling of pathways to net-zero can help answer these questions, but everyone in the climate/energy policy community should understand how assumptions regarding the availability, performance, and integration of various technologies shape the answers and drive policy choices and priorities for research and development.

Karl Hauser, PhD leads WRI’s analysis and modeling of climate mitigation and net-zero pathway, electricity market design, and the social cost of carbon.  He led the Risky Business study of clean energy pathways for the U.S. and has worked for more than three decades in the fields climate change, energy, and environment in government, research institutions, and NGOs, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USAID, and as chief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He has worked on an array of issues including electricity restructuring, CAFE standards, alternative fuels, water policy, nuclear power, and energy security. He holds a PhD in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley.

ESRAG Environmental Ambassadors Training Course

Thursday, January 13, 2022 By: Patricia Armstrong
Early in 2021, a team of educators from Australia came up with the idea of providing a training course for ESRAG members to prepare them to go out into their clubs, districts and communities to promote greater involvement in environmental projects. After consultation with Zone 8 advisors and DGs, followed by a focus group, the team set to work to design, promote and deliver a pilot course to a bunch of passionate Rotarians and Rotaractors across Australia and New Zealand. The course has now been delivered to a class of 29 participants, who, on average, rated the course very highly. 

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Blue Carbon + Community Development: a Tested Toolkit for Rotarians

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

Rotarians eager to support “blue carbon” initiatives can study the success of the award-winning Mikoko Pamoja mangrove project in Kenya and consult an excellent free manual provided by the Scottish nonprofit ACES (Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services).  We’re sharing this resource thanks to ESRAG’s Great Britain and Ireland (GBI) Chapter and British Rotarian Paul Keeley, one of ESRAG’s leading advocates for African reforestation projects.  It’s especially timely because Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta used his roundtable at the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow to challenge Rotarians to sponsor mangrove projects across the Commonwealth. 

Mikoko Pamoja, which means “Mangroves Together” in Kiswahili, is the world’s first mangrove and seagrass conservation project financed by the sale of carbon credits.  30% of the carbon offset revenue goes into projects chosen and managed by the community, who have used the funds to repair and equip schools and health care facilities, and to provide safe water to 4,500 residents across three villages. Thus – deliciously for Rotarians – this strategy combines a powerful climate change solution with economic development for coastal communities.  

By adding seagrass to the original mangrove focus, the project has pioneered the strategy of protecting more than one element of coastal ecology under one carbon offset certification. “This may increase the level of time, resources, skills and equipment required for the project,” says the manual. “However, doing so could create a more robust project with greater capacity for income from carbon credits or other sources of funding. Coastal and marine ecosystems are closely linked and a joined-up approach to their conservation will bring more environmental benefits than conserving one alone.”

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COP 26 Silver Linings?

Tuesday, January 11, 2022 By: Ariel Miller

An ESRAG WhatsApp group has been vigorously discussing the Glasgow Climate Conference, including a link to this Inverse article “COP26:  11 Decisions that Could Actually Reverse the Climate Crisis." The top five, in the Inverse writer’s view, are:

  • Fossil fuels are explicitly listed as a cause of climate change for the first time in a final UN climate agreement document.
  • 77 nations agreed to phase out coal: wealthier countries by the 2030’s and developing nations by the 2040s.  However, the US, China, Australia and India did not sign this agreement.
  • China and the US issued a joint “Glasgow Declaration” in which the US promised to end carbon-emitting electricity by 2035 and China committed for the first time to tackle methane emissions and “phase down” coal consumption.
  • More than 100 countries – 70% of the global economy - signed the non-binding Global Methane Pledge launched by the US and European Union to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • The US pledged to quadruple funding by 2024 to help developing nations transition to clean energy and build resilience to climate change. This includes some funding for climate-smart agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and to preserve global forests.

ESRAG’s Great Britain and Ireland chapter posted the Inverse article in its Dec. 9 Advent Calendar post, asking members “How would you rank these gains and what is missing?”  British Rotarian Paul Keeley, Managing Director of Sustainable Global Gardens, offered an inspiring AND practical response through the Dec. 24 ESRAG GBI Advent Calendar: invest in blue carbon projects led by and directly benefiting coastal communities by sharing revenue from carbon offset credits.  Read about this strategy in our story on the success of the Mikoko Pamoja mangrove project on the coast of Kenya.  
Photo:  activists at COP 26, photographed by ESRAG Director Larry Hands

Cleaner Cookstoves: Choosing the Right Technology

Thursday, December 9, 2021 By: Maya Smeulders

Some 3 billion people, almost half the world’s population, still rely on open fires and fuels like wood and kerosene to cook their food. The simple act of cooking is responsible for 4 million deaths per year and is a major source of global greenhouse gases.  ESRAG’s Cleaner Cooking Taskforce is ready to help you implement projects to reduce smoke exposure and burns, mitigate deforestation, and save families a tremendous amount of time and money that they are currently spending to obtain firewood, as well as providing enormous health benefits.

Solutions include cleaner and more efficient stoves, liquid- and biogas installations, electric-magnetic induction stoves, and solar cookers. The Taskforce can help you find a technology and implementation plan that fits the culture, wealth, climate, and other factors of each community.  Click on the “read more” button for vivid examples from Africa and Central America.
Photo courtesy of Maya Smeulders: fitting pots to a new mud stove in Uganda before it dries completely.

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Hold a Watch Party Dec. 29 for Earth Emergency Premiere

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 By: Melanie Wallace

ESRAG invites you to host watch parties for the new documentary Earth Emergency, featuring the Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg. With captivating illustrations and graphics, stunning footage, and interviews with leading scientists, the film reveals how environmental feedback loops are amplifying global warming, and issues a compelling call to action. Narrated by actor Richard Gere, the film premieres in the US on Wednesday, December 29, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET.  Invite your club and community to tune in, and host a discussion! Even astronauts at the International Space Station will be able to watch while gazing down at our planet.

ESRAG's delighted to team up with the film's production team on this environmental awareness initiative. Please check your local listings on PBS.org and the PBS Video app.  The film will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Chromecast.

If you are unable to access the film through the US-based Public Broadcasting System, you can watch the key points online in five 8-15 minute segments.  Each segment comes with discussion group guides.

Send an email query for more information about the film and sharing its content.

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How to Organize a Story of Plastic Watch Party

Monday, December 6, 2021 By: Lori Cloutier

The problem with plastic waste in our waters and lands is difficult to overstate.  The sheer volume overwhelms existing disposal systems, yet the amount of new plastic manufactured per year is expected to double by 2040.  Recycling is not economically feasible for 90% of plastics, so what can a regular person do to make any kind of impact on such a huge problem?

You can organize a party.

The ESRAG Plastic Solutions Task Force is challenging members to accept a challenge: To organize a “Story of Plastic” Watch Party for their club, family or community group.   The Emmy Award-winning film is available with subtitles in 28 languages. Plastic Solutions has created a “Watch Party Packet” with organizing and promotion tips, graphics and art, discussion group questions, and 2 case studies of Rotary Clubs with plastic reduction projects and policies. To request a packet or talk about the concept of a watch party, email Task Force Chair Lori Cloutier.

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Speaking at COP 26, RI President Mehta Commits to Mangrove Initiatives

Saturday, November 13, 2021 By: Karen D. Kendrick-Hands
In a speech Nov. 10 at the UN Climate Conference, Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta announced that mangrove restoration will be a central focus of Rotary’s environmental work in the year to come.  He spoke at the beginning of the ministerial-level roundtable Nov. 10 at the Commonwealth Pavilion, after a warm welcome from Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland, QC, and ministers of the environment or forestry from the commonwealth nations of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Pakistan, Seychelles, Maldives, and Tanzania, as well as the representatives from several global environmental organizations. Rotary of Great Britain and Ireland cited President Shekhar’s roundtable at COP26 as “the biggest showpiece event of his COVID-hit Presidential year so far.”

Now that COP26 has ended, this is the opportunity for Rotarians to assess how we work in our communities and with our governments to enhance ambition, ensure that national plans for NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) are strong and filed timely, to encourage strengthened commitment to mitigate where we can, and to adapt and build resilience where mitigation will not come in time.

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Perspectives on Aquaculture: Nov. 17 Biodiversity Seminar

Saturday, November 13, 2021 By: Christopher Puttock

Speaker: Dr Gene W. Kim, Aquatic Ecologist with the USDA 
Time: 9:00 am EST, 2:00 pm UTC
Seafood is a primary source of animal protein for billions of people. Whereas global wild fisheries harvest has remained flat since around 1990, aquaculture is the fastest growing form of animal food production worldwide. The application of modern technology to the ancient art of aquaculture can result in a highly efficient production system. As the global population continues to increase, both wild-caught and farmed sources of seafood are needed to meet increased demand for seafood. Currently, aquaculture produces half of all seafood consumed globally.  Dr Gene W. Kim is the National Water Quality Specialist/Aquatic Ecologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Science and Technology Deputy Area, Ecological Sciences Division.  His presentation will focus primarily on U.S. Aquaculture.  Register here for this Zoom seminar, which always includes wonderful opportunities for networking.

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Fair to All: Share the Sun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 By: Ariel Miller
Battered by increasingly savage hurricanes since Hugo in 1989, communities on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas also endure several blackouts a month at the mercy of a badly-managed grid. Many people here are low- or moderate-income (LMI), but they are forced to pay residential electric rates more than three times the U.S. average.  Doug White, Co-Chair of ESRAG’s Climate Solutions Task Force, is mobilizing his knowledge and networks to help relieve the energy burden and increase the resilience of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Working through his Rotary club, the Solarize St. Thomas “Share the Sun” program is making solar power affordable to LMI households including renters.  The technical and financial pieces of this campaign can be applied in other tropical regions facing severe storms and unreliable grids. 

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COP26 First Week: Promises Made in the Blue Zone

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 By: Karen D. Kendrick-Hands

This post shares highlights of our first week representing Rotary in sessions in the Blue Zone, where the accredited parties are negotiating in the quest for climate change commitments.  Read it for a glimpse of developed countries’ funding promises, the huge value of mangroves as carbon sinks, gaps in methane strategies, deforestation, mobilizing philanthropy and capital, getting money to grassroots solutions, climate-smart agriculture (plus some greenwashing!) and accountability (or lack of it).

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Rotary Poster Competition Puts Children's Voices Front and Center at COP26

Monday, November 8, 2021By Doug Wills, RI Delegate to COP26
Children’s concerns over the world’s global warming challenge were unveiled to political leaders and climate experts at COP26 on Friday 5 November by the Rotary organisers of a competition open to students aged 10-12. The best of nearly 4,000 hand-drawn posters from primary schools across the UK were shown as part of a Commonwealth Blue Charter focus on how young people view the environmental crisis.

The posters, many of which were exhibited throughout Glasgow, brought an extra dimension to the climate debate, said Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Scotland.  She praised the young artists as “the new climate warriors who are so engaged."  Judith Diment, MBE, Dean of Rotary Representatives to the UN, announced the winners at the Commonwealth Youth and Public Empowerment Day at the Commonwealth Pavilion. The competition helped raise awareness in schools of the issues of climate change and the discussions taking place at COP26, and enabled primary school children to be part of it. It also gives COP26 delegates an opportunity to see children’s views on climate change. Decisions taken here in Glasgow this week will have a lasting impact in the future for these children. The winners of the three top prizes are all eleven years old.


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Nov. 4, 2021: Wake Up Call: Steps to Stop the Race to Tipping Points

Friday, November 5, 2021 By: Karen D. Kendrick-Hands
Our adventures on Nov. 4 included conversations with the makers of the Earth Emergency documentary, scientists, and a cheerful chat with HRH Prince Charles, in an opulent Victorian mansion financed by industrial Glasgow’s coal wealth. This post shares some of the insights we received, networking we did here and plan  after our return, and steps you can take to wake up your circles of influence on why they must act now, and actions we can take to prevent our planet from hitting the tipping points to irremediable disaster.


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Nov. 1: Vital Contacts from the Start of COP 26, Why Rotary is Here, and a Link to Daily News

Monday, November 1, 2021 By: Karen D. Kendrick-Hands
Karen Kendrick-Hands is ESRAG’s representative on Rotary’s first-ever official delegation to the UN Climate Conference and will be posting on this blog during the conference. She suggests you subscribe to the UK’s daily COP26 newsletter for a good overview of each day’s agenda and actions.

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) is the first since Rotary International added Protecting the Environment to its causes. Seeing the Rotary delegation at COP 26 is many participants' first notice that Rotarians are now working on the environment and climate change. As a worldwide network, Rotary has huge potential to contribute to solutions. Our delegation is getting an enthusiastic welcome.  On Oct. 31, we were able to meet with three key contacts: the Director of the Climate Programme of the World Meteorological Organization, a leader of the Women and Gender Constituency, and people from Mediators Beyond Borders International. It was a fruitful first day!  Read more in the full blog.

Photo:  Maxx Dilley, Director of the World Meterological Organization's Climate Programme, discussing the potential for collaboration with ESRAG's Karen Kendrick-Hands. Rotarians' global network of local volunteers could help fill serious gaps in weather data needed for the UN's climate modeling.

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Racing to Restore Indian Forests

Thursday, October 14, 2021 By: Ariel Miller
Rotarian CR Hanumanth has done a lot to restore habitat in 1,500 hectares of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve

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Hopeful Little Akaki River clean up

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 By:
We are implementing a community mobilization program to clean the Little Akaki River that runs 11 km through the center of Addis Ababa as well as plant 1,000 indigenous seedlings. 

Date and Time: on Saturday August 28, 2021 
UTC 5:00pm* (8:00pm EAT Addis Ababa; 12:00pm-noon CDT Evanston)


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