Two Wins, a Loss, and a Disaster

Another day in the life of the climate fight.

September 12, 2023 | BILL MCKIBBEN | The Crucial Years Newsletter

We are truly in the midst of the climate battle now, all around the world, with new developments daily in the ongoing fight between activists who want to speed up the transition to clean energy and the fossil fuel industry that wants to slow it down. I spend much of the day trying to help in some small way in that battle: today it meant a couple of press conferences, some pressuring of corporate execs, working with my colleagues at Third Act, talking with colleagues in Africa and Europe. But it occurred to me that the very banality of a day like this hides the extraordinary ebb and flow of events. So here’s just a few of the things that happened on some of the various fronts today:

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In California, SB 253 made it through the legislature, which is an incredibly big deal. Because California is the fifth largest economy on earth, and this law would force the big companies that do business there—which is everyone, really, because who is going to miss out on that economy?—to fully disclose their carbon emissions, including their “Scope 3” emissions, which are the ones that come from the supply chain. Before the bill could pass it had to overcome huge lobbying by the Chamber of Commerce and the fossil fuel industry—they know that if companies like, say, Google are required to report, say, the carbon that comes from their banking arrangements with Chase or Citi, then Google will start putting pressure on those banks to stop lending to Exxon and Chevron. Enormous thanks to the legislators and activists who pushed—and who now must push Gavin Newsom to actually sign the law. He talks an excellent climate game, but rest assured there will be enormous pressure on him here. The Sierra Club’s executive director Ben Jealous called on Newsom to sign, and added that the “Securities and Exchange Commission should join California, the European Union, and other jurisdictions in taking a comprehensive approach to requiring the disclosure of all emissions and major climate risks.”

To understand why this is so important, consider Apple’s new product launch today, which featured a quite wonderful environmental skit starring Apple boss Tim Cook and his sustainability vp Lisa Jackson (former head of the EPA), playing opposite Octavia Spencer as Mother Nature. It was part of the company’s announcement that their Apple Watches were now carbon-free—a real accomplishment in metallurgy, fabric science, and so on. But also not quite true, because Apple’s biggest source of carbon emissions is the money it keeps in America’s banking system, which is lent out for new pipelines and the like. When you count those emissions, Apple’s carbon footprint goes up 64 percent. And SB 253 will make them count those emissions—and I have no doubt that their teams will then get to work reducing them, by pressuring the (much smaller in corporate terms) megabanks to stop bankrolling fossil fuel expansion. If you’re the head of Chase, and Tim Cook says ‘bro, we cannot meet our promise to be net zero by 2030 if you don’t change,’ then you have precisely the kind of problem that’s necessary for progress.

+A loss—partial, and smaller—across the country in New York. The city is getting ready to enforce a law that requires landlords to retrofit their buildings to reduce carbon emissions; the city’s landlord class opposes it, and they apparently have enough political clout to sway the city’s mercurial mayor Eric Adams, who today proposed a series of loopholes to weaken the law. Groups like New York Communities for Change and Food & Water Watch called it “a huge gift to New York’s top corporate polluters — the real estate lobby, who are his largest campaign donors. If his proposed rules are adopted, New Yorkers could lose tens of thousands of jobs, air pollution could increase by millions of tons per year, and energy bills could get even higher because landlords will be allowed  to avoid upgrading their dirty, polluting buildings to high energy efficiency.”

Just as the California fight isn’t over till Newsom signs the bill, so the New York one isn’t done yet either. And in both cases success depends on activism, which is why it was sweet to see a tweet first thing in the morning from the New York University chapter of the Sunrise Movement disclosing that NYU has finally divested from fossil fuels. This battle has been going on for a decade—I’ve watched many remarkable students and faculty push hard, with sit-ins and petitions and all the tools of the activist toolkit. The administration has been absurdly resistant—back in 2016, after a faculty vote for divestment, it said it would be “disingenuous” to sell oil stocks while the campus was still using oil, which is Twitter-level political analysis. But the kids kept coming, and today it was victory.

And, also today, it was terrible, heart-rending defeat. Record rainfall in Libya—the kind of rainfall you get when you heat the ocean and the atmosphere—overwhelmed two dams. At least five thousand people are dead, and since ten thousand are missing that number will keep rising. Nothing we do will prevent tragedy at this point; but if we do all we can, then there will be less tragedy. That’s the calculus of this day, and every day, on our overheating earth.

In other energy and climate news:

+In late August Eucadoreans voted overwhelmingly to keep the oil beneath the Yasuni National Park in the ground. That’s about 726 million barrels, no small thing, and it should shame rich countries of the north that can’t bring themselves to do the same.

The oil industry is a global, interconnected industry. Much of the oil exploited in Yasuni for example is taken to the United States; in California, one out of every nine tanks of gasoline is filled with oil from the Amazon. Resistance to global corporations and the powers of greed, is only possible through global movements, countering these powers and protecting their territories of life. Our collective power to confront the oil industry is in unity;the frontlines lead, but are supported by national and global solidarity. To win this historic victory, Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists and organizations joined forces, coordinating mobilizations, assemblies and eye-catching digital campaigns. Over the last month, the campaign gathered international support and recognition from international celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprioMark RuffaloGreta ThunbergJada Pinkett SmithJason MomoaGael Garcia Bernal, among others. This vote shows that when we come together, and are creative in our collaborations, we win. When we build bridges across divisions, we are unbreakable.

+Nifty account by Liza Featherstone in In These Times about how New York state activists won the legislative battle to “put the publicly owned New York Power Authority in charge of building renewable energy with a mandate to do so in the interest of working people” instead of leaving it up to private utilities:

The New York power campaign canvassed in neighborhoods suffering unreasonably high electric rates and the fallout of climate disasters. The devastating 2019 blackout in New York City left many stranded in elevators and subways, which revealed — according to Amber Ruther, then an NYC-DSA member who was part of the early organizing— that ConEd, a for-profit company with a monopoly, ​“didn’t have the incentive to invest in even basic grid maintenance.” Public power advocates argued that the government, without the profit motive and with democratic oversight and obligation, could do a better job.

The campaign also held town halls in affected neighborhoods. It turned out that ConEd had kept the lights on in wealthy areas but had cut off power in working-class Black communities like Flatbush. Ruther recalls ​“a lot of righteous anger from the community about those blackouts” during town hall events. As one Flatbush resident interviewed for a DSA video put it, ​“Why are we always in the dark?”

Meanwhile, Brooke Anderson in Yes about the unlikely and inspiring story of the Shelterwood Collective, bringing a solar-powered microgrid to thier part of northern California:

“Shelterwood centers queer and trans folks in ecology. It means a lot—returning to home—especially in a community in which we’re ostracized into the margins or forced into the cities for protection,” says Layel Camargo, co-founder and co-executive director of Shelterwood, and an Indigenous (Yaqui and Mayo of the Sonoran Desert), trans organizer and cultural worker. “We’re returning our people back to the land.”

But Shelterwood is in the heart of Northern California’s wildfire country, Camargo explains. When it’s hot and windy, PG&E turns off the power without warning. This is a problem for Shelterwood, which sits outside of cellular service and relies on electricity to power satellite phones. Shelterwood also depends on power for their housing, kitchen, retreat center, phones, lights, internet, electric vehicles, and electric tools.

“Rural communities are really at the hands of these monopolized energy companies. In an emergency, without power, we couldn’t call 911. There’d be no way to get information about an evacuation,” Camargo says. “The best way for us to survive out here, and to stay ecologically aligned, is to have as much control of our utilities as we can.”

+Wyoming is the biggest coal state in the union, but by the time the Transwest transmission line is finished, it could be a clean energy powerhouse

+Definitely read Naomi Klein’s new book, released today. The craziness that she describes settling over our global politics is driven in no small part by climate denial, which became a template for covid denial.

+Not just New York—climate marches all over the country and the world this weekend. Paul Hockenos writes from Berlin, where his son is skipping school to march:

In discussion, and on the TV and radio talk shows, the young people quake with indignation. They talk passionately of a system that is wrecking their future and which they — ineligible to vote — have no say in. They talk about “taking back their future.”

They’ve opted for the school strike and other forms of civil disobedience because the decisions directly affecting their lives are made over their heads — and often it seems for the worse. As they say, they’re the ones most affected in the long term — and yet, in many cases, their young age means they’re not even able to vote.

The way they can be heard is to take to the streets. And doing so on a school day packs an even harder punch — that’s civil disobedience.”

+Solar fabric from a company called Pvilion is being used in war relief in the Ukraine—and also in canopies for cocktail parties in New York. Solar everywhere!

And since we’re talking appropriate technology, check out a great new film on the burgeoning sail cargo movement.

+Teen Vogue, always on the case—this time reminding us that our banks and credit cards are huge sources of emissions.

That’s why climate activists are increasingly turning their attention to big banks as part of their efforts to prevent more carbon from entering the atmosphere. “We wouldn’t have things like the Willow Project or Line Three” — an oil drilling project in Alaska and a pipeline from Canada to Wisconsin, respectively — “if we didn’t have these big banks underwriting them by lending them all this money,” said Cathy Becker, responsible finance campaign director for Green America, a nonprofit.

+A fascinating Rural New Deal proposal, from Progressive Democrats of America, with some focus on energy, and a full suite of smart proposals for turning around some of the things that have turned the countryside bitter.

To view the original source, click here.


Pvilion and La Plaza Cultural De Armando Perez Community Garden Create Solar Pavilion To Serve Community

August 1, 2023 | Julia Fowler

The solar pavilion will serve visitors of the garden on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

NEW YORK – Aug. 4, 2023 – Daily Tech Geek — Pvilion, a Brooklyn-based solar fabric company, has designed, engineered, fabricated, and installed a custom solar powered fabric pavilion with rainwater harvesting systems in the La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Community Garden on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The system encompasses energy storage systems, a device charging station, power for lights and equipment for live music events, a graphic educational dashboard display showing performance of the system, and 1500 Watts of solar panels. The structure can produce about 7kWh of solar energy on a typical day.

The solar powered fabric roof connects to a silent, clean battery storage system with 270-amp hours of capacity. It offers enough power to support lighting, tools, electric bicycles, cell phones, fans, and dozens of phones and laptop computers. The system also features a dashboard that educates visitors with a graphic display about the power being generated and consumed in real-time. The rainwater harvesting system features a water diverter that channels rainwater from the roof into three large basins that store the water for future use in the gardens.

“La Plaza is thrilled to have collaborated with Pvilion to bring our solar vision to reality! Pvilion has been a delight to work with throughout the entire process,” said Ross Martin of La Plaza.

With the new addition of solar fabric roofing and power systems, the space now serves as a shelter for gardeners and guests during the day and a social center for events in the evenings. The space will also serve as a resiliency hub for the neighborhood if needed. With the added ability to provide amenities for the guests and users of the garden, it is equipped to better serve the community.

The structure originated as a simple 20′ x 20′ timber frame in the heart of the garden and is made of sustainably grown, horse harvested, and hand-hewn timber. It was erected entirely by hand by mostly volunteers. Ultimately, it will also feature a green roof, permeable paving, and removable sides, making it a truly unique example of green architecture in the city.

Pvilion’s solar powered pavilion is a long-awaited compliment to this beloved community garden in lower Manhattan. The garden plans to host a celebration inaugurating the solar pavilion soon.

About Pvilion

Pvilion is a solar-based fabrics and tent company, who offers products that range from stand-alone solar canopies to solar military tents, grid-tied long span structures, solar powered charging stations, solar powered curtains, building facades, backpacks, and clothing. They are known for integrating solar cells with fabrics and building fabric products that can generate electricity. To learn more visit

About La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Community Garden

La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez is a community garden and park on 9th Street and Avenue C proudly serving Manhattan’s Lower East Side for nearly a half a century through food production, education, entertainment, and recreation. After decades of reclaiming abandoned lots, restoring damaged landscapes, and fighting development pressure from all levels of government, they are finally stable enough to focus on their dreams of being a much-needed hub and model for sustainable, regenerative, and resilient urban living. Their solar pavilion will enhance and facilitate this end, providing an indoor/outdoor space powered completely off grid, for gathering, workshops, and entertainment. To learn more visit


Anchor Industries: Clip-On Event Tent Attachment Kit

Continue hosting events with your favorite outdoor frame tent, now with all the benefits of solar powered energy. Pvilion’s clip-on fabric solar panels allow you to feature charging stations, coffee makers, fans, speakers, lights, televisions, or any other power needs you may have with ease when you host events.

Pvilion is an industry leader in providing solar powered fabric structures that are lightweight, flexible, easy to install, yet durable, energy efficient and above all environmentally friendly. Pvilion’s products are turnkey and support unique space and location configurations. Anchor Industries Inc, with Pvilion’s state-of-the-art technology, offers a cost effective, quick and reliable outdoor structure solution. The clip-on kit includes fabric solar panels that can be installed quickly and with ease. It’s perfect for Anchor’s F3 tent, and can be used on other tents as well.

The clip-on attachment can power charging stations, coffee makers, fans, microphones, speakers, lights, televisions and other small devices. Covered by solar cell integrated fabric and complete with a battery kit, the event tent clip-on attachment, when setup in a location that receives sunlight, can be operated independently. The solar fabric is flexible, yet durable and energy efficient. Enjoy the peaceful silence of a battery powering your next event. NO MORE NOISY GENERATORS DISRUPTING YOUR EVENTS!


London Embassy Solar Facade

Pvilion is working with Kieran Timberlake, BLHI, Permasteelisa, and Birdair to make a design dream come alive. The creation, a solar powered facade membrane, will help the new US Embassy in London be a fully self sustaining, LEED Platinum achievement. 

Originally designed as close to 700 EFTE membrane structures acting as passive shading and PV energy production, these units will makeup the entire east, west, and south facades. Pvilion is now becoming one step closer to covering the world with fabric that produces its own electricity and beautifies its surroundings.

This project is still in the design/mockup phase, and will be finished by late 2015. For more information, please click here.

public safety

The Carol Roberts Field House Canopy at Yale University

The Carol Roberts Field House, design by KG&D Architects, is the locker room, training room, coach’s office, meeting space and observation deck for the women’s field hockey and softball teams. Pvilion provided design assist services to KG&D Architects for the Canopy and was the Contractor for the fabrication and installation of the Canopy.


2014 Solar Decathlon – Techstyle Haus

Pvilion was a Terrawatt Sponsor for this Solar Decathlon project, acting as a design consultant and visiting critic to the team of RISD, Brown University and Erfurt University faculty and students. The Techstyle Haus is the worlds first fabric Passivhaus – the 5kW solar array produces more energy than the home will use.  

Pvilion designed, fabricated and installed the photovoltaic membrane. 


Carnegie Hall Gala Tent

Imagine erecting a 5,000 square foot, elegant, and grand building for events in just a few hours. Using Pvilion’s high pressure air beam technology and design, this event product is the first of its kind, combining architectural design and high tech fabric work.

The Gala Event Structure has already hit the market in 2014, and will be sure to turn heads in the temporary event space. Set it up on a rooftop, in a field, or anywhere you can imagine, and this Gala Event Structure will blow your mind.

public safety

Solar Sails at Skyland Park, Atlanta

Using its proprietary lamination process, coupled with 40+ years as leaders in tensile structure design, Pvilion has developed permanent solar powered canopy products that are scalable for your shade and power needs.

These innovative lightweight structures not only provide shade and solar energy, but LED lighting and mobile charging using built-in USB ports. Either grid-tied or off-grid, Pvilion’s canopies are customizable with scalable battery back-up systems depending on your installation needs. 

Whether your project is one-of-a-kind or boasts multiple structures, Pvilion’s solar canopies can be engineered for a single, two or four pole configuration. Pvilion’s code-compliant solar fabric structures are the perfect sustainable solution with a story to tell.


Solar Facade Module for Artists for Humanity

We engineered, fabricated, and will install a solar wrapper for the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in Boston, Massachusetts.

Our solar trellis wrapper will enhance the aesthetic of the building as well as harvest solar energy to power it.

Artists for Humanity (AFH) is a non-profit youth center for art, science, and enterprise. AFH’s mission is to bridge socio-economic divisions by employing talented and bright underserved high schoolers to provide creative and technical services to local businesses.

The wrapper is just one project in the Epicenter’s 52,000 square feet expansion, which will also make it the largest energy positive commercial facility on the East coast.