Aspen, Colorado — Ten projects from around the world receive $25,000 each for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or promoting carbon uptake
Winners at tonight's star-studded 2020 Keeling Curve Prize Awards Ceremony included projects that turn carbon dioxide into stone, bring solar energy to rural Africa, and expand access to electric vehicle charging stations. CBS News meteorologist Jeff Berardelli and supermodel, actress and entrepreneur Amber Valletta co-hosted the event; presenters included Chef José Andrés and renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben. Grammy Award winner KT Tunstall performed, and an inspirational video by singer/songwriter Rocky Dawuni closed out the show.
The celebration streamed on Peril and Promise, a cross-platform public media initiative from WNET in New York reporting on the human stories of climate change; as well as on the Keeling Curve Prize's Facebook page and the NowThis News Facebook page.
Each year, the Keeling Curve Prize awards $25,000 to each of 10 projects across the globe with significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or promote carbon uptake. The 2020 prize attracted over 300 applications from 68 countries, doubling the number of applicants compared to last year.
"2020 has certainly been a challenging year," said Berardelli. "We're getting a hard lesson in just how fragile our human systems are due to COVID-19. But the climate challenge is on another level," he said.
In the face of this historic challenge, the Keeling Curve Prize is spotlighting solutions that offer reasons for hope.
"The Keeling Curve Prize is doing some amazing work around the world, shining a light on pioneering projects that are pushing forward on climate action," Valletta said.
Stars from the worlds of news, movies, food and wine joined environmental leaders in presenting the awards, which went to two projects in each of five categories.
Chef José Andrés is famous for his creative cuisine and his nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which swings into action to feed communities devastated by disasters from hurricanes to COVID-19. He presented Capture and Utilization awards to:
Borneo Nature Foundation (Indonesia), which protects the peat-swamp forests of southern Borneo - some of the largest terrestrial carbon stores on the planet; and
Carbfix (Iceland), which captures CO2 and turns it into underground stone in less than two years using proprietary technology.
Bill McKibben, who co-founded the prominent environmental group 350.org and is credited with writing the first book on climate change for a general audience, presented Transport & Mobility awards to:
Bridges to Prosperity (Denver), which provides economic mobility to rural communities in developing countries while reducing the need for vehicle infrastructure by building pedestrian footbridges "last mile" connections; and
EVmatch (Santa Barbara, California), which aims to revolutionize electric vehicle charging through a peer-to-peer charging network.
Julia Jackson, a second-generation vintner with Jackson Family Wines and founder of the environmental summit and foundation Grounded, presented Finance awards to:
Odyssey Energy Solutions (Boulder), which facilitates financing and development of off-grid distributed energy projects that address rural energy poverty in developing countries; and
The Generation Forest (Germany), a cooperative that enables finance and climate action to work together through impact investment for retail investors.
Justin Worland, the TIME environment reporter who wrote 2020 Is Our Last, Best Chance to Save the Planet for the magazine's recently published special edition on climate change, presented Energy awards to:
Jaza Energy (Canada and Tanzania), which replaces fossil fuels with clean energy in remote African communities; and
Oorja Development Solutions (India), which deploys community solar irrigation pumps for farmers in rural India.
Leah Thomas, a young leader focused on intersectional environmentalism, presented Social & Cultural Pathways awards to:
Citizens' Climate (Coronado, California), which advances bipartisan climate change mitigation policies, such as national dividend and carbon fee policies; and
Feedback (United Kingdom), an evidence-based environmental campaign charity working to regenerate nature by transforming the food system.
"I am thankful to our hosts and presenters for participating in tonight's event and using their star power to help raise the profiles of our 2020 Keeling Curve Prize winners," said Jacquelyn Francis, director of the Global Warming Mitigation Project, which runs the annual Keeling Curve Prize competition.
"These projects - like our former winners - were vetted by top climate experts as having significant potential to help curb global warming. I hope my peers in the philanthropic community join the Keeling Curve Prize in supporting these projects so that they can scale up further and help us get the climate crisis under control," Francis said.
After a rigorous screening process, the Keeling Curve Prize's impressive team of analysts named 20 finalists in April. Keeling Curve Prize judges - including Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists; Kara Hurst, Amazon's VP of worldwide sustainability; and Edward Mungai, CEO of the Kenya Climate Innovation Center - chose tonight's 10 winners.
The Keeling Curve Prize is named after scientist Charles David Keeling's Keeling Curve, which has been tracking an increase in global carbon dioxide levels since 1958. In May, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air reached an average slightly greater than 417 parts per million, the highest monthly average ever recorded.
"The purpose of the Keeling Curve Prize is to bend the Keeling Curve back to a safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which scientists say is a maximum of 350 parts per million. I am confident our Keeling Curve Prize winners can help us get there," said Francis.
About the Keeling Curve Prize
The Keeling Curve Prize awards $250,000 annually to projects that display proven carbon uptake, drawdown, or sequestration efforts. The prize is a program of the Global Warming Mitigation Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is identifying, activating, and accelerating projects and programs worldwide that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon uptake. This includes direct funding of vetted organizations, enhancing networking and promotional efforts, identifying ways to unleash funding opportunities for climate solutions, and supporting climate justice.
About Peril and Promise
Peril and Promise is a cross-platform public media initiative from WNET in New York reporting on the human impact of climate change, designed to provide context, scientifically sound information, and fact-based journalism to audiences across every platform of public media. It also focuses on stories of exciting new frontiers of scientific innovation in resilience, mitigation, and clean energy.
Media contact: Carina Daniels firstname.lastname@example.org 510-847-1617