Thursday, September 24, 2020

EarthX celebrates 2019 Keeling Curve Prize finalists

EarthX convention at Fair Park, in Dallas (Rachel Hawkins/NDG)

By: Rachel Hawkins, NDG Staff Writer

After reviewing 150 applications from all over the world, 20 applications were picked and chosen as finalists for the 2019 Keeling Curve Prize award. The announcement was shared on April 25, at EarthX’s E-Capital Summit, in Dallas. A total of $250,000 in prize money will go to 10 projects when the winners are announced in June at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The funds will assist efforts to address global warming. Four finalists from the following categories were selected: Carbon Capture and Utilization, Energy Access, Transportation, Finance, and Social and Culture Impacts.

This is the second year the prize competition was held. The Keeling Curve Prize was named after Charles David Keeling, an American scientist whose recording of carbon dioxide led to the Keeling Curve, anthropogenic contribution to the “greenhouse effect” and global warming in 1958.

Jacquelyn Francis, founder, and director of the Keeling Curve Prize spoke to NDG by phone and stated Social and Culture Impacts was her favorite category.

“The reason why it’s my favorite category is because, in my view, we have the ways to solve the problems surrounding climate change, we just need the will to do it, and Social and Culture Impacts are the way to get that will,” Francis said. “Getting the word out, educating people on how and why it should be done, and getting them to get past a feeling of despair and hopelessness, and more of a feeling of optimism and excitement for the future.”

Francis also stated a lot of the applications covered more than just a specific area, they actually cover an industry.

“For instance, last year we had an Organization called Our Climate, which is mobilizing young people all over the United States on carbon tax, and the impacts of the entire country,” Francis said.

“We have a couple that are specifically involved in underserved communities,” Francis said. “We have the African Clean Energy which is producing cookstoves that reduce smoke emissions and solar electricity for small electronics and LED lighting, and this is a huge impact in Africa. And then we have Solar Sisters, which is supporting women to learn how to put in distributed generation solar. This is a great impact for women who are looking to get involved in this kind of space where there’s opportunity for them to learn how to do something that can improve their own community.”

Money matters according to Francis.

“The prize activates and accelerates solutions everywhere,” Francis stated.

Francis stated they recommend for the applications to be a project and not an idea or concept. They can be from individuals, organizations, or universities. The next application period runs from December 1, 2019, to February 1, 2020.

“I had someone recently ask me if I believed in climate change, and I just kinda looked at them, and I said ‘it’s not a matter of belief, I’m a climate scientist and I know the science of what’s going on. And it’s happening,’” said Francis.

2019 Keeling Curve Prize Finalists 

The following is a list of finalists:

Carbon Capture and Utilization

  • Opus 12 (Berkeley, CA) is developing a device that recycles CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels.
  • Wildcoast (Imperial Beach, CA) is working to secure a resilient coastline to help protect communities, economies and ecosystems from climate change impacts in the Gulf of California.
  • Regen Network’s (Great Barrington, MA) technology makes it possible to value carbon capture into landscapes through changes in agriculture, forestry or ocean management.
  • Bluefield (Palo Alto, CA) detects methane leaks via microsatellites and artificial intelligence.

Energy Access

  • Solar Sister (Great Falls, VA) invests in women’s enterprises in off-grid communities.
  • 10Power (San Francisco) develops and finances renewable energy projects in markets lacking access to electricity.
  • Oorja Development (India) develops community solar pumping systems for groups of smallholder farmers in rural India.
  • African Clean Energy (Lesotho) produces cookstoves that reduce smoke emissions and solar electricity for small electronics and LED lighting.


  • Ma’anshan Rural Commercial Bank (China) is working to become the first green commercial bank in China.
  • Clean Energy Works (Washington, D.C.) is using pay-as-you-save financing to help transportation companies switch to electric buses.
  • CalCEF/Nexus (Oakland, CA) is forming a Qualified Clean Energy Opportunity Zone Fund to deploy solar, wind, energy storage and other clean economy assets.
  • Odyssey Energy Solutions (Boulder, CO) standardizes tools and metrics for off-grid distributed energy developers and investors.


  • Jetty (Mexico City) is using technology to establish and enforce stricter service standards on private suppliers of loosely regulated “colectivo” services in Mexico City.
  • Three Wheels United (Bangalore) is using finance and technology to decarbonize the auto rickshaw market.
  • Bridges to Prosperity (Denver) works with local governments and isolated communities to build footbridges and create pedestrian access to essential services.
  • Green Gas (Cambridge, MA) is bringing carbon pricing to Main Street, creating new sources of funding for climate solutions.

Social & Cultural Impacts

  • Mothers of Invention (England) is an often inspirational and often funny podcast that looks at climate change solutions through the lenses of climate justice and gender.
  • EcoChallenge (Portland, OR) inspires, educates and activates individuals around community-based change.
  • World Council of Churches (Geneva) aims to provide houses of worship with tools and know-how to enable reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through youth engagement.
  • SBTi (Globally) helps financial institutions use science-based targets to align their investment and lending portfolios with the Paris Agreement.



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