As an ecological economist, Tom Green knows that in nature nothing grows forever, and neither he says, can our economy. At the heart of his discipline is the idea that the economy exists within nature and that a healthy economy is made possible by healthy ecosystems.

“All the indicators show humanity is overshooting what nature can provide,” says Tom, who works as a climate policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation. Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity has used up all the resources that the planet can renew in one year, was a stark reminder of this. That day was August 1st, the earliest it has ever been.

 


“Just like overspending month after month on one’s credit card, the consequences of drawing down nature are showing up all over the place."


 

“Our challenge is that our societies are geared toward economic growth, yet that growth typically involves ever more resource extraction, energy use and waste,” said Tom. “Just like overspending month after month on one’s credit card, the consequences of drawing down nature are showing up all over the place."

The question of how to invest his own money for an earth in overshoot was an interesting one for Tom. “Investors of course benefit from economic growth,” but in far too many cases, he says “businesses show rising profits because they are not responsible for the burdens they impose on the planet. Fossil fuel companies make enormous profits by extracting and selling oil, all the while not paying a cent for the damage caused by extreme weather.”

 

Tom Green: CoPower Investor Profile

 

“I don’t want my portfolio to grow if that growth comes at the expense of the common good, future generations, or the world I’m going to retire in. I’d rather make 5% if that makes me and my community better off, than make 12% and be part of making one more asthmatic kid, or helping to worsen a flash flood.”

The answer for Tom is to invest his time and his money in helping the growth of renewables and cleantech. “It’s was helpful for me to find a company like CoPower that does the research to find promising low carbon projects and offers an easy investment vehicle and a good return through their green bonds.”

 


"I’d rather make 5% if that makes me and my community better off, than make 12% and be part of making one more asthmatic kid, or helping to worsen a flash flood."


 

Earlier attempts to find green investments had been disappointing. “Some of the early options were in companies that were greening their production, or in funds that eliminated the worst offenders, but they were still promoting consumerism and to my view, doing little for real human well being,” he said. “I’d much rather invest in real renewable energy projects, or in a bus company that is making zero emission buses to clean up urban air.”

Today, Tom’s investment portfolio is better aligned with the broader climate work he does day-to-day at the David Suzuki Foundation. Recently, he began working on a research project on how to achieve zero emissions in Canada by 2050. “That’s what the climate science tells us we need to do, but it would also offer so many positive advantages over the status quo,” he said. “The changes we know we need to invest in would result in healthier, vibrant and more resilient communities.”

“One of the key findings of this research is that to the extent possible, we should electrify everything, clean up the electricity grid and improve energy efficiency—and that this can be done with today’s technologies, like the kind behind my green bond investment.”

 


“The changes we know we need to invest in would result in healthier, vibrant and more resilient communities.”


 

Tom’s work also connects him with renewable energy champions across the country through the foundation’s newly launched Charged Up program. “My optimism gets a boost when I see community leaders working to find innovative ways to finance renewable energy projects that create local skills and help strengthen local energy systems.”

Globally, though the renewable and clean tech sectors are growing by double digits each year, climate and economic projections show that we’re not moving anywhere near fast enough. The MIT Technology Review recently reported that at the current rate it will take nearly 400 years to decarbonize our energy systems.

“It’s a bit hard to fathom, because technology has improved so rapidly that most of these investments are no-brainers,” he said of the significant economic and environmental benefits of paying a little bit more money upfront to install solar PV or energy efficiency in new buildings. “I’m sure my fellow CoPower investors will get why that matters.”

 


“Our efforts should be invested in managing the transition to enhance well-being, address inequality and help ensure people have meaningful livelihoods. After all, if we don’t re-balance the accounts, nature will.”


  

Nonetheless, Tom is optimistic about the potential for rapid change that could come about when money starts moving on a larger scale.

“There’s an awakening that it makes no sense to have investments that are undermining one’s values, something Joel Solomon has documented in his book, The Clean Money Revolution. But even more importantly, it’s becoming clear that dirty investments underperform, while cleantech opportunities are growing rapidly as the technologies involved mature.”

“Our efforts should be invested in managing the transition to enhance well-being, address inequality and help ensure people have meaningful livelihoods. After all, if we don’t re-balance the accounts, nature will.”

 

 

Meet CoPower's new Green Bonds, 6-year, 5% interest annually

 

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Editor's note: Tom invested in CoPower's second issuance of Green Bonds (Green Bond II) as well as third issuance (Green Bond III) which is now available. This blog was solicited by CoPower and may not be representative of the views of other investors or potential investors in CoPower Green Bonds. Please consult the Offering Memorandum of CoPower Finance Inc. dated May 11, 2018 for all material information in respect of CoPower Finance Inc., the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds and the terms of the offering of the third issuance of CoPower Green Bonds.