Two NGOs that have been at the forefront of combating climate change through promoting innovation and market-based solutions have now joined forces. Yesterday Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Carbon War Room (CWR) announced they will merge, allowing them to leverage each other’s strengths and find solutions to expand their vision of a low-carbon economy.
This new organization could benefit from what had been two very approaches. RMI, which was founded over 30 years ago, focuses on research and analysis. CWR, one of Richard Branson’s many ventures, takes a more brash approach toward promoting a global low-carbon economy—and has also been fixated on how capital solutions can help renewables and clean technologies scale. The trick, of course, is whether two different organizations with different work cultures and survive as one entity: a frequent challenge within the private sector when two companies merge.
The good news is that these two organizations already have a solid track record of alignment. Earlier this year both RMI and CWR launched the Ten Island Challenge, a program to transform the economies and energy portfolios of Caribbean island economies. Nations and territories including Saint Lucia, Aruba and Granada have seen their economies long hampered by their reliance and expensive and dirty diesel fuel. They may barely contribute one percent to the world’s total carbon emissions, but will bear the brunt of climate change, rising seas and volatile weather patterns in the coming years. Wind and sun are both in plentiful supply, however, so the RMI-CWR partnership is working on investment programs that can accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources in the region.
Both organizations are also working on additional programs, including improving the energy efficiency of freight trucks, scaling rooftop solar and other renewables to bring down energy costs for consumers and find ways to seek a global market for more fuel-efficient ships.
For now the enthusiasm is infectious, especially coming from one of RMI’s founders. “For more than 32 years, RMI had partnered with industry and business with significant successes in transforming energy use across the transportation, buildings, industrial, and electricity sectors,” said Amory Lovins, RMI co-founder, chief scientist, and now chairman emeritus. “Now we can capitalize on Carbon War Room’s proven ability to engage and excite corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and investors to rally around innovative ideas and take action.”
Jules Kortenhorst, the current CEO of RMI, will become CEO of the new merged organization. With his advocacy including an emphasis cost of climate change and optimism that large companies will have a role in expanding the scope of renewables, this new venture under his leadership will be off to a fast start. With atmospheric carbon dioxide now above 400 ppm and extreme weather on the rise, this joining of forces could make a difference if clean energy becomes the norm in developed and developing nations alike.
Image credit: Rocky Mountain Institute