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A podcast about the different people, technologies, and organizations that are coming together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. We also talk about blockchains.
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#58 Ryan Anderson of Delta Institute

January 29, 2019

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We typically think of value and ROI in monetary terms, but what about the social value of an investment? Or its environmental return? The field of ecological economics is built around the idea that the health of our land serves as the foundation of our economy, and we know that assigning a monetary value to ecosystem services helps us to be better stewards to these resources. So, how do we put carbon sequestration on the balance sheet? How do we build market incentives to reverse climate change at scale? And how do we talk to investors about deploying capital in ways that create real value for the landscape AND provide a healthy financial return?

Ryan Anderson is the Strategy Lead with the Delta Institute, a nonprofit working to collaborate with communities to solve complex environmental challenges across the Midwest. They identify opportunities for market-based environmental solutions and then proceed to design, test and share those solutions for the social, environmental and economic benefit of their community partners. Ryan joined the team at Delta in 2007, and his role involves connecting innovative people and ideas to specific resources and places. Currently, he’s focused on reversing climate change by working with farmers to sequester carbon in the soil, creating a more inclusive and regenerative economy in the process.

Today, Ryan joins Ross and Christophe to discuss the principles of ecological economics and the debate around financializing ecosystem services. He describes his work with The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), sharing its successes and failures and explaining what Nori can learn from his experience with the project. Listen in for Ryan’s advice to impact investors on diversifying their portfolios with farmland and learn about the Delta Institute’s recent report on valuing the ecosystem service benefits of regenerative agriculture practices.

Resources

The Delta Institute

National No-Tillage Conference

Carbon Farming Innovation Network

Reversapalooza

Ecological Economics: Principles and Applicationsby Herman E. Daly and Joshua Farley

The Chicago Climate Exchange

Wendell Berry

Pope Francis’ ‘On Care for Our Common Home’

Robert Costanza’s ‘The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital’

Dr. Charles Massey on RCC EP053

Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovationby Richard L. Sander

Cap-and-Trade Discussion on RCC EP031

North Dakota Farmers Union

Iowa Farm Bureau

Waxman-Markey Bill

The Paris Agreement

US Climate Alliance

4 Per 1000 Initiative

Delta Institute & Farmland LP Report

Farmland LP

Earth Economics

COMET-Farm

Henry George

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Key Takeaways

[2:29] Ryan’s path to reversing climate change

  • Grew up in Chicago (hub for futures)
  • Independent study on ecological econ
  • Master’s at University of Leeds 

[7:59] The principles of ecological economics

  • Fusing of ecology and economy
  • Imbedded view of natural + human systems

[9:44] Ryan’s take on financializing ecosystem services

  • Must be on balance sheet
  • Makes us better stewards to resources
  • Values beyond monetary (i.e.: social, aesthetic)
  • Market incentives necessary for speed, scale

[16:28] Basic market terminology

  • Derivatives
  • Forwards vs. futures
  • Commodities

[21:52] The function of The Chicago Climate Exchange

  • Anticipated regulatory future for carbon emissions
  • Voluntary membership created ‘policy laboratory’
  • Ag/forestry contain costs for industrial emitters
  • Delta Institute brought in as aggregator for IL

[28:19] The successes and failures of CCX

  • Mass involvement, engagement from membership
  • Members pulled back after failure of Waxman-Markey

[33:44] What Nori can learn from CCX

  • Test methodology, make accessible to farmers
  • Model for participation at scale quickly

[38:46] The mission of the Delta Institute

  • Collaborate with communities across Midwest
  • Solve complex environmental challenges
  • Pilot innovative ideas, scale via partnerships

[42:18] Ryan’s advice for impact investors

  • Deploy capital to create real value on landscape
  • Leverage farmland to diversify portfolio

[47:41] Ryan’s hope for the Nori pilot

  • Expand across North America, world
  • Farmers join and benefit (boost to stay on land)

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