INTERVIEW WITH JOEL SOLOMON, CO-FOUNDING PARTNER, RENEWAL FUNDS
Q. Your book is called The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism. What kind of economic revolutionary change would you like to see?
We must prioritise fair and equal opportunity. Investment in women globally is a priority for slowing climate change. Reconciliation with Indigenous people is essential for healing past wrongs. Having a social safety net for health, education, welfare, and seniors’ support, with basic guaranteed minimum income and the right to clean, safe housing is essential along with incentives to reduce population growth.
We can still generate restoration of planetary ecosystems. For that we need massive investments in rebuilding public infrastructures while accelerating the shift to renewable energy and efficiency. We have to have life cycle responsibility and science guided natural resource extraction, full life cycle manufacturing and responsibility for packaging and distribution with priority care for the commons.
Reduction of global militarisation, intelligent gun control, policing, prison and drug policy reforms are also key. I would also like to see limits on private political donations shifting to public financing of elections as well as comprehensive strategies to reduce wealth inequality and the creation of fairer opportunities.
These measures are redistributive, reparational, and decentralising. It’s crucial that we have a more fair and just economic system. We must also be good stewards of the commons. Government is the primary arbiter of the commons from which major ecological, societal and economic decisions adapt and reorganise to meet the accepted policies and rules for how political and governmental systems determine and guide choices and behaviours. The public sector is essential to helping guide the parameters that will decide the future.
Q. The word “revolution” is often tied with the climate change movement because it speaks to the kind of large scale collective effort needed to bring about radical change. Historically however once a coloniser or a dictator has been removed from power, revolutions result in long periods of unrest and turmoil.
I know you have an alternative future in mind but structurally, how could a movement of such magnitude be organised and coordinated?
Global crisis presents the opportunity for adoption of massive societal efforts to reset imbalances of current economic structures. Humanity’s odds of making these transitions in a harmonious way, will require significant re-invention of political and governance systems.
Q. The introductory and concluding chapter of the book is entitled “The $100 trillion question”. Can you outline the proposal you make in these chapters? Where will this sum come from and how can it help the climate change cause?
Trillions will move from older generations to younger ones. It is projected that at least $100 trillion dollars will transfer through death alone, thus shifting power from an older perspective and acceptability of how the economy works to a more just and inclusive understanding of limits and long-term directions that will follow. Civilisation is desperately in need of new understandings and ways of operating, given the success of former systems of exploitation and concentration of wealth.
New political alignments can drive shifts towards the realistic tackling of ecological and social issues, regulation, fair taxation, and empower government to become the arbiter and guardian of the commons. That must be the baseline essential balance with a market sector designed for responsible ethics and appropriate management of damaging externalities.
Q. You outlined some statistics that could inform the $100 trillion dollar shift, including some estimates by The World Bank and Ceres. Are we at all close to meeting those investment targets?
There is progress but we have far to go. The private sector is now much stronger than the public sectors. Bold economic policy must stabilise society for a safe planetary future.
Q. In the book, you talk about how money has no values of its own and go on to say that “we need to start to talk about money in ways that dethrone it and make it subject to human ethics and standards of love and decency”.
By “feminising the economy”are you hoping that we will be able to focus on the more practical and aspirational aspects of money? How will this help the environment?
Feminising the economy values a longer term approach to economic design that prioritises a safe, clean, and fair future. The planet will soon be populated by ten billion people. Protecting the environment is essential to humanity's long term well being. The odds of this approach flourishing, increase dramatically with female leadership.
Q. The book features an interview with Sallie Calhoun and Esther Park from Cienega Capital. They talked about topsoil erosion and said that globally, we only have something like sixty or seventy years of topsoil left. How will this impact the global food market?
The food crisis is worse than ever before and it's being driven by population growth combined with over industrialisation, depletion of water, soil fertility, and climate change. This is a dangerous formula.
Loss of topsoil accelerates severe consequences for humanity. A rapid shift to rotation grazing on perennial mixed plant pasture livestock management will capture dramatic amounts of carbon, while building deep rooted natural sequestering for carbon re-absorption. These perennial mix pastures with rotation grazed livestock, will help re-establish carbon capture through intelligent agriculture.
Q. Let’s talk about cities, specifically the design and systems of cities and the impact this can make in lowering carbon emissions. You mentioned how successful Vancouver has been in leading sustainable urban development. Can you tell us a little about Vancouver’s Climate Adaptation Strategy and what makes it so impactful?
Vancouver has proven that determined and clear minded political leadership could reverse accelerating carbon emissions pouring into the atmosphere, through steady reform of green building codes, density, the built environment, mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, food waste reduction, city greening, etc.
Safe clean rental and social housing expansion stimulation must be an ongoing public priority.
Vancouver now has a strong focus on sustainability and is committed to active carbon reduction, climate action and reconciliation.
Q. In This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, Naomi Klein quotes Yvo de Boer, who held the United Nation’s top climate position until 2009. Mr de Boer believes that "the only way" negotiators “can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy”.
My question is if we are to reconstruct the rules of capitalism and draft a global financial plan to avoid catastrophic warming over the course of the next 30 years, what would be the best place to start?
We can systematically mobilise smart long term planning, drive robust regenerative economic activity, and re-invent the values, vision, and design of how capitalism works.
It’s possible to create a soft landing for civilisation as the global economy shifts towards a resilient model for the long term future.
We have more than enough money. We must awaken to our responsibility for the long term future.