Investing in community — an interview with Franz Hochstrasser

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“Every community in the US has a few leaders that want to tackle climate change in an equitable way, we are hoping they will use our tools to become an Originator, and get started,” says Franz Hochstrasser.

Franz Hochstrasser is the CEO and Co-Founder of Raise Green, and New Haven Community Solar. Before getting his Masters at Yale University with a focus on sustainable finance and climate change, he served in the Obama Administration for all 8 years, most recently as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change which helped negotiate the Paris Agreement, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the US Department of Agriculture.

We speak about Raise Green and their connections with the Open Climate Collabathon, a new form of event based on a principle of radical collaboration and crowd-development, that calls on everyone to contribute in the development of an open source and collectively owned global climate accounting system, platform and portal.

This interview is part of an ongoing “Collabathon Interview Series” and was first published at “proofing future, bridging people + ideas”.

Sebastian Klemm: How do our children survive the 21st century?

Sebastian Klemm: Why do you support the Open Climate Collabathon?

Sebastian Klemm: How have you supported the Collabathon so far? In which of the prompts have you been involved and what have you been co-developing?

Sebastian Klemm: The Collabathon drives the Open Climate project which aims for a crowd-development that leverages blockchain and other emerging technologies, such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data and machine learning, to the challenge of helping the world keep a transparent accounting system as we strive to achieve the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement — i.e. maintaining anthropogenic warming below 1.5°C.

Could you explain from your perspective why this project is worth supporting and why sponsorship is important to keep this development movement alive?

Click here to learn more about how you can connect with the Open Climate Collabathon November Sprint.

Sebastian Klemm: The Collabathon Wiki describes “Blockchain applications in the climate space should not try to replace existing climate accounting frameworks but rather build on top of them to drive higher levels of efficiency. Furthermore, the distributed ledger technology space is characterized by a high levels of entrepreneurial spirit and initiatives. If these are to directly compete against each other with a zero-sum mindset, then the capacity for having a unified climate accounting system is reduced. In other words, the world would not benefit from multiple carbon ledger systems that cannot interoperate with one another. The planet’s atmosphere is still a single limited space where all free greenhouse gases reside. Therefore, an open climate system needs the capacity to involve both existing legacy climate registries, platforms and databases, with blockchain based environments that subsequently should interoperate and reconcile records between each other. This is what underpins that effort on how to design and develop the Open Climate platform should focus on the concept of a a platform of platforms (or PoP).”

What possibilities can you envision to maintain this platform of platforms crowd-development by patterns of commoning and crowd-financing at some point, indeed?

Sebastian Klemm: In our interview Dr. Martin Wainstein, founder and lead researcher at the Yale University’s openlab, says: “Currently, intellectual and financial capital is still the primary means for corporate valuation,but more and more we will start realizing this falls short since new companies will showcase value growth and impact through collaboration, open source and a growing network effect from shared purpose.The challenge is to capture this and find creative ways to translate this into financial capital, albeit a more enlightned version of financial capital.”

How does Raise Green showcase value growth and impact through collaboration?

Click here to learn more about the Originator Engine by Raise Green

Sebastian Klemm: Together with your partners at Raise Green you won the Aetna Foundation Prize in 2018 for your plan to aggregate small investmentsto provide equity for finance companies, providing investors a market rate of return while financing projects that provide social andenvironmental benefits.

Why did you found Raise Green? Could you walk us through the value proposition elements at Raise Green?

Sebastian Klemm: Comprised of i.a. the Yale openlab and its Open Solar project, Greentown Labs, the New Haven Community Solar as well as the MIT Digital Currency Initiative: What are the timebased interrelationships in this ecosystem that have helped to establish Raise Green?

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Sebastian Klemm: Climate action is more than demanding action from others, it also means taking action ourselves.

How does Raise Green help people to create their own green job? If not only to bring people and projects to your marketplace: How does your Originator Programme revise the paradigm of maximized self-interest and evolve an enlightened global self-interest ushered through Radical Collaboration?

Sebastian Klemm: Amidst these challenging times and in anticipation of impending recessions in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns:

What opportunities do you see for people to engage in co-creative crowd-developments like the Open Climate Collabathon with regards to the work of the future & the future of work?

Click here to learn more about the Raise Green Originator Accelerator Program

Sebastian Klemm: In our interview, Dr. Jemma Green, the CEO of Power Ledger, states: “We are conscious that developing countries are likely to repeat the mistakes of the developed world when it comes to energy, resulting in electricity that is unaffordable for those who are most vulnerable. I am determined to help facilitate renewable energy projects and technology to connect and empower communities. (…) We are creating an energy marketplace where prosumers — those that consume and produce their own energy — receive a better price for their excess energy, and customers without renewables are able to purchase that energy at a better price. This is why we call it the democratization of power. The team and I share a belief that empowering individuals and communities to control the way in which they buy and sell their electricity will help create a power system that is resilient, affordable and clean.”

In which ways does Raise Green democratize energy?

Sebastian Klemm: In his essay “Buddhist economics” the economic thinker, statistician and economist Ernst Friedrich Schumacher argues: “(…) production from local resources for local needs is the most rational way of economic life, while dependence on imports from afarand the consequent need to produce for export to unknown and distant peoples is highly uneconomic and justifiable only in exceptional cases and on a small scale.”

Since Raise Green promotes investment in local resilience: How do you impact local economic development? In which ways does Raise Green foster a circular lifestyle paradigm and local poverty alleviation?

Sebastian Klemm: How do you measure and verify strengthened resilience in a community due to a project?

Sebastian Klemm: The RAISE Model in your due diligence process stands for: “Revenue. Ambition. Impact. Social. Environmental.” How do you define & design both revenue and growth on your company level?

Sebastian Klemm: We need to design sustainable technologies also sustainably in themselves: What follows after 20 years contractually agreed cash flow of a community solar plant,which also equals the average livespan of solar arrays? Are there take back-systems in place to recover the solar arrays’ components and materials for remanufacture?Is it possible at all to recover and remanufacture inherent materials of solar arrays?

Sebastian Klemm: Is the collaborative capital of a company now of equal importance to its intellectual and financial capital? In how far has the ability of being able to add value by collaborating effectively with others become a new business imperative?

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