Business
By Alison Meares CohenBusiness
Indigenous Women Fight to Protect Rights of Woven Guatemala Textile Design

The Kaqchikel women—one of 23 Mayan cultures in Guatemala—are fighting to protect their collective intellectual property rights to their traditional Mayan textile designs. Led by the Women's Association for the Development of Saquatepéquez (AFEDES), an organization with a membership of more than 1,000 indigenous women and supported by an association of Mayan lawyers, hundreds of Kaqchikel women artisans of all ages took their case to the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City this past June. They are asking the court to push the Guatemalan Congress to enact new laws that would protect their intellectual property rights over the intricate woven designs that have become ubiquitous in the tourist markets and are a direct reproduction of their heritage and cultural identity.

Reproduction of the Mayan textiles has become increasingly controlled by just a handful of companies that hire Mayan women and pay them very little (around 10 quetzales or just more than one U.S. dollar) for a design that might take days, even weeks, to weave. The products are sold at a much higher cost to tourists and textile buyers around the world. But this isn't just an economic issue to the indigenous women who flooded the courts this spring. Dressed in their traditional hand-woven blouses known as huipils—each design emblematic of the life in their particular community and worn every day by these women and their children as they work, play and go to school—they argued that the real value of these iconic textiles is the preservation of a way of life and the protection of a living culture.

AFEDES Director Milivan Aspuac.

In a recent field visit to accompany and support AFEDES and their efforts on behalf of indigenous women's social, cultural and economic rights, the AFEDES' Director Milivan Aspuac explained to me and my colleagues from WhyHunger that at its core their struggle is to protect the very heartbeat of Life. According to the Mayan Cosmovision, everything is connected and human beings are charged with engendering reciprocity, solidarity and harmony in all of the elements—physical and spiritual, matter and energy—that make up Life. The story of Life and the principles of their Cosmovision are revealed in the designs of the vibrantly-colored textiles that women have been creating for thousands of years—each one unique and representative of a particular time and value-system of a particular community. Protecting and preserving the way in which these designs are reproduced and the huipils worn (from adult to child, from generation to generation, from community to community) is to protect, repair and preserve Life.

There is much Life to repair in this mountainous region of Guatemala in the department of Saquatépequez, home to one of the tourist meccas in Central America, the carefully restored colonial city of Antigua which is a designated World Heritage Site. Since 1993, the AFEDES members have been organizing indigenous women throughout this state to join them in their efforts to envision a way of life that aligns with their Mayan Cosmovision while not wholly rejecting a modern world. Decolonization and reclamation is at the heart of their strategy to confront the gender, economic and racial oppression that has left them in extreme poverty and is slowing appropriating their culture. We saw evidence of the strategic ways in which AFEDES confronts oppression that reflect the holistic, complex and at times heartbreaking circumstances of women's lives. As Milvian explained: "AFEDES can't work only with food sovereignty or economic development or violence against women—we have to work on all these fronts because that's the reality of women's lives." The struggle is arduous, the losses are many, but with each win against the oppression that the women of AFEDES describe as patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism, one more strand of colorful cotton can be woven back in to their story.

Resisting Patriarchy: Self-Worth and Power in Numbers

The struggle to end violence against Mayan women in the village of San José Pacul is at the foundation of the organizing work that AFEDES does in this village and dozens of others just like it. Angelina Aspuac, one of AFEDES' organizers, tells us, "The main issue here is machismo." Sofia's story, who Angelina introduced us to, is representative, she said, of many of the Mayan women who have now come together to pool resources, share assets and work together to collectively improve the quality of their lives. "I never thought of becoming a wealthy woman," Sofia said. "The idea at the start was to start a community bank to make small loans." She explains that the men stepped in soon after and started to dictate what the loans should be used for and yet the women were still held responsible for paying the money back. Not alone in her predicament, Sofia's husband would confiscate the loan money she had intended to use for investing in a small cottage industry to make enough money to send her kids to school. She endured regular beatings and became isolated when he forbid her to attend any more of the women's meetings. Since she couldn't pay back her loans, she couldn't bring home any more funds for him to spend or invest in his own failed ventures. Eventually Sofia made the very difficult decision to separate from her husband despite the fear of retreating further into poverty. She left their home with their seven children and no money. She was emboldened to take her life in her own hands, she said, because she had the support of other women in AFEDES.

Dona Sofia and children: ""I never thought that we could become a community of strong women, with our heads full of ideas. I may not have any money but I am a wealthy woman because of my ties to AFEDES."

AFEDES has established "safe houses" for women when they report domestic abuse to the local police and their claims are dismissed. The police will often say the beatings are justified because the women did not prepare good food or did something else that provoked their husbands. AFEDES has become a space that abused women can retreat to for emotional and legal support. AFEDES is stretched thin in their attempt to attend to all the women who show up on the doorstep of the safe house. The organization does not yet have enough legal or counseling capacity to thoroughly support each woman's case. But they can listen to every woman's story with integrity and compassion and connect them to other women in their community for support. This is the first and often the most important intervention, one of the AFEDES organizers named Justiniana told us. Learning to value themselves and the other women in the community is a core aspect of the consciousness-raising work that AFEDES brings to the organized groups in each village. The issue of self-care is a part of that. "It's important that women learn to take care of themselves so they have the energy to do the work of preserving and protecting Life," she explained.

As colonialism ushered in western values, women began to be seen only as useful for work in the kitchen and the fields. Because of AFEDES the women have been able to organize, receive training in agroecology and homeopathy, learn a new trade and participate in leadership development. They recognize their own value and now their families and communities recognize their value. Sofia concluded her triumphant story with the following: "I never thought that we could become a community of strong women, with our heads full of ideas. I may not have any money but I am a wealthy woman because of my ties to AFEDES. I don't have a lot of income, but I have a community and my children are going to school. My children are behind me and supporting me. My children know that I have skills, knowledge and value. Because my children know that I have value, they come to recognize their own value and their own power."

Resisting the Capitalist Extraction of Natural Resources: Two Competing Ideologies

In the village of El Réjon—where steep and mostly denuded hillsides are lined with homes pieced together out of pallets, discarded tin and other found materials and the gullies are lined with the debris of packaged and processed food items—the Mayan people are facing pressure from the federal government to allow a mega mining operation. If the mountains surrounding their village are opened up for gold prospecting and extraction, families would have to abandon their land, their homes and their community. As in many other cases in Guatemala, these mining operations leave a path of destruction in their wake—contaminated water and soil, loss of forest, as well as illness and broken lives. For the moment, the local government is heeding the demands of the community and has declared they will not allow mining, that they will resist the corporations if they come. This is testament to efforts of the women of El Réjon who have organized themselves with the support of AFEDES. These women successfully impeached the previous mayor because he supported the mining and tried to do the bidding of the federal government and corporations who were in their back pocket.

AFEDES member in El Rejon saving seeds: "Women in this community are used to people giving them food; they don't realize that they have the capacity to provide food for themselves."

The struggle against mining is a battle over two competing ideologies, according to the Mayan women in the village. The prospectors and multinational companies who reap the profits represent one ideology. Their mentality is one of economic expansion—let's get the gold out of the mountains and sell it. Making profit in the short-term is their myopic aim. The women of AFEDES also fear that local families will not benefit from that profit as it will be extracted right alongside the gold. The Mayan ideology, as explained by the women of El Réjon, is in stark contrast. "The mountain is like a body. If you take the gold out of the mountain, you are exploiting the Life and spirit of the mountain. To us, the mountain is a living being, a part of our living culture, not just a big pile of dirt. The mountains have bones—the minerals contained there—and if you exploit that for money, then you're killing the Life of the mountain."

Resisting Colonialism: Reclaiming Health and Agriculture Through Mayan Foodways

For the Mayans, mining and other extractive industries are the continuous thread of colonialism. 524 years of colonialism to be exact. Five centuries of exploitation and hunger. According to the World Food Program, Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Those who suffer most from hunger and poverty are young, rural and indigenous. Chronic malnutrition among indigenous children is close to 70 percent. Paradoxically, 70 percent of people who are hungry in Guatemala used to be food producers. More than 50 percent of the population in Saquatépequez is malnourished, meaning that they do not have access to enough calories or nutritious food. Women and children are most affected. Traditionally, men are fed first, children second and then women. Often when the rest of the family is fed, the women are left only with tortillas.

In all of the villages throughout Saquatépequez where Mayan people live, diets have suffered as processed foods have become more available. Charity is the norm in dealing with hunger; and agriculture has become focused on mono-crops such as coffee, sugar, bananas and cotton for market and export. "During an election year, the politicians come and promise many things—even a bag of food. But now that we're organized," said a Mayan woman farmer in the village of Pachali, "they can't get away with these promises." Instead the women are calling for secure land access, a ban on GMO crops and support for seed saving to grow a diversity of indigenous foods. Diets used to be richer and more balanced in our ancestor's time, Milivian explains. AFEDES is working hard to recuperate that. "Some say the future has already passed and our ancestors lived better than we do now." AFEDES is not alone in this struggle. They are one organization among 32 women-led organizations that make up the national women's sector that are fighting to reclaim and re-energize Mayan food production and diets, as one part of their living culture.

The women of AFEDES have rejected agrochemicals and the pressure from the government and multinational companies to grow mono-crops for export. The pressure has escalated, the women of AFEDES explain, over the past two decades. "We are 20 years into this situation and there is more hunger and malnutrition than ever before." Many farmers lost their land because they got into cash crops. The story is the same the world over: Farmers were promised economic prosperity if they grew a certain kind of crop using modern seeds and agrichemicals. They had to borrow money to purchase all of the inputs as dictated by the agricultural "experts." Inevitably, the crops failed after a couple of years when the soil became depleted and/or the market shifted, so they were forced to sell their land to get rid of the debt. For this reason, AFEDES is promoting their traditional milpa or maize field. As indigenous peoples throughout the Americas have done, the thriving milaps we visited included a triumvirate of plants—corn, beans and squash—that work together in mutual support to ensure that there is a variety of food throughout the growing season that also leaves the soil replenished and ready for planting anew.

While in Pachali we visited a farmer by the name of Dona Francisca. In a half-acre plot she was growing carrots, onions and spinach in addition to participating in a traditional milpa with other women in the community. Dona Francisca explained why she has participated in a community of AFEDES women recuperating Mayan foodways for the past thirteen years. "Women in this community are used to people giving them food; they don't realize that they have the capacity to provide food for themselves."

Down the road in El Réjon we met with a woman who is growing food and medicinal plants mainly for herself and her children. She recounts her recent past, describing herself as a woman who was often sick and always depressed. She couldn't afford to go to the doctor. Two women in the community who were concerned came to talk to her and they encouraged her to join their small AFEDES group that was just forming. Thanks to her AFEDES companeras, she said, she started learning to grow medicinal plants and produce food on small plots of land around her home and in containers right in front of her house. She now has chicks and will soon have eggs to eat. She has even begun teaching other women to use medicinal plants. She is not yet earning income, she said, but her health has returned, she is engaged in the community and is saving money by not having to purchase all of her food or medicine.

Natural medicine—or medicines derived from plants—according to the Mayan people, is a critical aspect of their living culture. The Mayans believe that every plant has a spirit and that contained in each plant is both matter and energy. So, harvesting the plant for medicine requires understanding and having faith in the energy contained in the living plants.

Striding Towards Sovereignty

Sovereignty is at the heart of what AFEDES is aiming to accomplish—the right to self-govern, the right to hold on to their stories and values as revealed in the designs on their huipils, the right to land to establish milpas and seed saving practices to ensure future harvests, the right to the dignity that comes in growing healthy food to feed their families and heal their bodies and minds, the right to reproduce the living culture of the Mayan people, the right to protect the symbiotic relationship between matter and energy.


Justiniana, long-time member and current leader in AFEDES, wearing her hand-woven belt.

The symbol that AFEDES has chosen to represent itself is a belt woven with a design in the tradition of the Mayan huipils. The belt is multi-colored—each vibrant strand of cotton beautiful on its own but complex and whole when woven together. The various strands crafted into a design represent the diversity of the Mayan people, their languages and practices, as well as the diversity and strength of the women of Saquatépequez. Each small ball formed by tying strands of the cotton at the end of the belt fringe represents a different community, a different skill and a different capacity. As Milvian said: "We grew up in this organization. Our mothers brought us here. It has been our school of life."

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By Climate NexusEnergy
MIT: 'Range Anxiety' for Electric Cars Is Overblown

Relying on a single charge, today's electric vehicles could replace 87 percent of daily car travel in the U.S. and cut gasoline consumption by 60 percent.

Shutterstock

Using the 2013 Nissan Leaf as the base for their calculations, researchers at MIT analyzed driving patterns and battery capacity and found that "range anxiety"—fear that a car's battery will die without timely access to a charging station—is overblown. If battery technology improves as expected, electric vehicles could replace 98 percent of existing vehicles by 2020.

For a deeper dive:

News: Washington Post, Carbon Brief, MIT Technology Review, Ars Technica, Pacific Standard

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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By Sierra ClubEnergy
Why Are Electric Vehicles Only 1% of Total Monthly U.S. Auto Sales?

By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Mary Lunetta

Electric vehicles (EVs) are cleaner, greener and more fun to drive. Different mileage ranges, prices and car types abound with about 30 plug-in electric sports cars, SUVs and sedans now available from Chevrolet, Nissan, BMW, Ford, Tesla and many other automakers. Shopping for an EV should be fun and easy. So, with so many terrific options available, why are EV sales still at only one percent of total monthly U.S. auto sales?

We launched Rev Up EVs, the first-ever multi-state study of the EV shopping experience, to find out. Based on surveys from Sierra Club volunteers who called or visited 308 different auto dealerships and stores across ten states to check out and test drive EVs, the study finds that there is tremendous room for improvement among both the dealerships and the automakers to provide customers with a better EV shopping experience.

Sierra Club

The California Air Resources Board's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program requires automakers to sell increasing numbers of EVs between now and 2025. Because of the many environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles, the ZEV standard is now followed by nine other states as well. With the standards currently up for review, many automakers are lobbying regulators to weaken zero emission vehicle regulations, saying they are doing everything they can to sell EVs.

But the numbers don't add up. A recent Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union survey of randomly selected drivers found that 55 percent of survey respondents in Northeastern states and 65 percent in California are interested in EVs, and that 65 percent of surveyed California drivers wish there were more EV options. An earlier survey of driving habits showed that for more than 40 percent of Americans, switching to an electric vehicle would be practical right now. With such high interest, EV sales should be accelerating at a much faster pace.

In less than a month, drivers across the country will take part in the largest celebration of electric vehicles, National Drive Electric Week, now in its sixth year.

By studying the EV shopping experience in each of the ZEV states, the Rev Up EVs study found that some automakers and auto dealers are doing a great job developing, marketing, and selling EVs to consumers by having several EVs on their lots, informed salespeople, and strong EV advertising. These best practices are not rocket science. But many other dealers and automakers are falling short.

The first step to selling any car is to actually have it available for purchase -- you can't sell a car that isn't there. But the Rev Up EVs project found that it's often difficult to find an auto dealership with even one electric vehicle on its lot. Auto dealerships in the nine other ZEV states were 2 ½ times more likely than those in California to find no EV on the dealership lot for customers to see, test-drive, and lease or buy.

Availability may be the first step to selling a car, but it's not the only area with room for improvement. Even at dealerships with at least one EV on the lot, about one third of the salespeople at surveyed dealerships failed to provide their customers with information on the tax credits and rebates that make EVs significantly more affordable and that are proven to increase electric vehicle sales.

Sierra Club

To increase EV sales, we can't lower the bar for the auto industry. We need the industry to step up and put best practices to work to sell EVs and comply with the ZEV regulations. In fact, to achieve our climate, air quality, and EV sales goals, we need even stronger ZEV regulations. And it's possible. Automakers can increase inventory and multi-state distribution of EVs, as well as offer attractive deals to dealerships. Once they're on dealers' lots, EVs need to be charged, ready for test drives, and prominently displayed. Auto dealers and makers need to train their salespeople on the ins and outs of EVs so that salespeople can answer customer questions. Finally, automakers need to increase advertising of their EVs which, in turn, will encourage dealers to advertise more at the local level.

In less than a month, drivers across the country will take part in the largest celebration of electric vehicles, National Drive Electric Week, now in its sixth year. At upwards of 200 parades, ride and drives, charging station ribbon cuttings, city fleet displays and other community events, people across the country will showcase the many benefits of driving electric. In previous years, we've found these events to lead to more people heading to dealerships to buy or lease EVs. Will the industry be ready to welcome these customers?

Gina Coplon-Newfield is the director of the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative. Mary Lunetta is the campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative.

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By Andrew BeharClimate
Turning the Carbon Bubble Inside Out

Our global economy is undergoing the "Great Transition" from an energy system based on fossil fuels to one based on clean, renewable energy sources and technologies. So as longtime advocates for a safe, just and sustainable future, we at As You Sow decided to partner with our friends at Corporate Knights and develop the Carbon Clean 200—to start a broad and dynamic conversation about how all investors can create a clean energy economy and how best to recognize companies that are already on this path.

iStock

Six years ago, students began to call on their university endowments to divest from fossil fuels, urging university leaders to stop profiting from companies that were destroying their future. Over time, many of those investments have increased risk in university endowment portfolios, and the trustees who listened to their students and aligned their institutions' investing with the school's mission ended up avoiding significant financial pain.

Since then, a great deal of effort has been devoted to identifying the fossil fuel companies that most threaten our fragile climate. These 200 companies were first identified by the Carbon Tracker Initiative in their seminal "Carbon Bubble" report. The Clean200 turns the Carbon Bubble inside out and asks which companies are currently profiting from participation in the clean transition and what is the best way to spot them?

How We Did It.

The Clean200 ranks the largest publicly listed companies worldwide by their total clean energy revenues as rated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). In order to be eligible, a company must have a market capitalization greater than $1 billion (end of Q2 2016) and earn more than 10 percent of total revenues from clean energy sources.

More than 70 of the companies on the list receive a majority of their revenue from clean energy. The list excludes all oil and gas companies and utilities that generate less than 50 percent of their power from renewable sources, as well as the top 100 coal companies measured by reserves.

The list also filters out companies profiting from weapons manufacturing, tropical deforestation, the use of child and/or forced labor, and companies that engage in negative climate lobbying. We then took the top 200 and ranked them by estimated clean revenue—the Clean200.

We compared the Clean200 to the Carbon Underground 200, the list of the largest fossil fuel companies that the Divest-Invest movement and many fossil free mutual funds use as a screen. We also compared the Clean200 to the S&P 1200 global benchmark. Our findings were telling, to say the least. First, more than one-third of the Clean200 companies are Chinese, which speaks to a quiet green energy revolution brewing in the world's largest economy. Another interesting finding is that 26 countries are represented.

The performance analysis for each of the three lists is based on a "snapshot in time" analysis of current constituents as the BNEF clean energy revenue exposure database is new and does not go back in time. The analysis also introduces a survivorship bias that can be present when stocks which do not currently exist (because they have failed, for example) are excluded from the historical analysis. This bias can result in the overestimation of past returns.

The methodology and list used to develop the Clean200 are in the creative commons and can be downloaded at www.clean200.org.

We also noted that the top 10 Clean200 companies with a majority of their revenue from clean energy include Vestas (wind power), Philips Lighting (LED lighting), Xinjiang Gold-A (wind plants), Tesla Motors (electric vehicles), Gamesa (wind turbines), First Solar (solar modules), GCL-Poly Energy (solar grade polysilicon), China Longyuan-H (wind Farms), Kingspan Group (Insulation and building envelopes) and Acuity Brands (LED lights).

This inaugural version is just the beginning. We want to see how our Clean200 methodology may be improved over time, so we decided to make the data available to anyone and everyone on creative commons, and to update the list every quarter to track the changes and trends. With this list, we hope to open a broad and transparent global conversation. We hope that the best minds will find this thought exercise as exciting as we do and join us.

As You Sow and Corporate Knights are not investment advisors nor do we provide financial planning, legal or tax advice. Nothing in the Carbon Clean 200 Report shall constitute or be construed as an offering of financial instruments or as investment advice or investment recommendations.

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By Care2Energy
California Freeways Will Soon Generate Electricity

By Laura Goldman

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.

But in California, which has some of the most congested freeways in the country, that's about to change. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a pilot program in which piezoelectric crystals will be installed on several freeways.

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.Jeff Turner / Flickr

No, these aren't some kind of new-agey crystals with mystical powers. Piezoelectric crystals, about the size of watch batteries, give off an electrical discharge when they're mechanically stressed, such as when a vehicle drives over them. Multiply that by thousands of vehicles and it creates an electric current that can be harvested to feed the grid.

In fact, scientists estimate the energy generated from piezoelectric crystals on a 10-mile stretch of freeway could provide power for the entire city of Burbank (population: more than 105,000).

"I still get stopped on the street by people who ask what happened to the idea of using our roads to generate electricity," said Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles assemblyman, in a press release announcing the program. "California is the car capital of the world and we recycle just about everything. So why not capture the energy from road vibrations and put it to good use?"

Piezoelectric-based energy‐harvesting technology is already being used in other countries. Since 2009, all the displays in the East Japan Railway Company's Tokyo station have been powered by people walking on the piezoelectric flooring. Italy has signed a contract that will install this technology in a portion of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. Israel is already using this technology on some highways, which is how Gatto got the idea for the pilot program in California. A friend returning from a trip to Israel raved about a road that produced energy.

"If piezoelectric‐based technology has the potential to match the performance, reliability and costs of existing or emerging renewable energy sources, then it can potentially diversify California's resource portfolio and ultimately increase grid reliability and reduce costs to ratepayers," states a report prepared for the CEC in 2014 by international certification body and classification society DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability (now known as DNV GL).

Piezoelectric technology has been used for years in electric guitars and sonar. The crystals are "in effect the reverse of sonar: a vibration comes in and an electric pulse comes out," according to the press release. This video provides an animated illustration of how they could generate electricity on roadways.

After California Gov. Brown vetoed an assembly bill Gatto introduced in 2011 that would have launched two piezoelectric pilot programs in California, Gatto asked the CEC to study the technology. Five years later, the CEC has agreed to fund pilot projects around the state.

If they are successful, perhaps other states will consider harvesting electricity from their busy roadways.

"Thirty years ago, no one would have believed that black silicon panels in the desert could generate 'solar' power," Gatto stated. "Piezoelectric technology is real and I am glad the state has finally acknowledged its potential in becoming an energy source."

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Care2.

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By Lorraine ChowEnergy
Elon Musk's New Solar Project: 'It’s Not a Thing on the Roof. It is the Roof'

With Tesla's historic acquisition of SolarCity now pending, Elon Musk has announced two new solar products, including one that could disrupt the roofing industry.

Tesla and SolarCity could change the roofing industrySolarCity Twitter

As Electrek reported, during a conference call with investors Tuesday, Musk and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said they were working on creating a roof made entirely of solar panels—solar shingles, if you will. Instead of tacking on solar panels onto an existing roof, the whole roof itself will be integrated with photovoltaic material.

"I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof," Musk said. "It's not a thing on the roof. It is the roof."

Rive confirmed the project. According to Electrek, "Rive added that there are 5 million new roofs installed every year in the U.S. and if your roof is about to need to be replaced, you don't want to invest in solar panels to install on it since you are about to take it down, but if the solar panels are the roof and you need to redo it anyway, there's no reason not to go with a power-generating roof."

Roofs certainly don't last forever. As U.S. News explained, depending on the material, roofs can last more than 50 years but homeowners with roofs made of fiber cement shingles or asphalt shingle/composition roofs can expect a lifespan of 20-25 years. Inclement weather—snow, hail and hurricanes—can cut a roof's lifespan even shorter.

Asphalt roofs—which are by far the most common in the U.S.—also happen to create about 11 million tons of waste each year. Though inexpensive, asphalt shingles are also a petroleum-based product which carries major environmental impacts. So if a homeowner needed to re-shingle the roof anyway, why not go with shingles that could double as an electricity generator instead and might be better for the environment?

Musk, who is the chairman and largest shareholder of Tesla and SolarCity, said there's a "huge" market for roofs at the end of their lifespan.

He also said, according to Bloomberg, "If you need to replace your roof in the next five years, you're not going to get solar. What if your roof looks better and last longer?"

Musk and Rive did not provide exact details on the solar roof, but they are not inventing something brand new if they are proposing to produce solar shingles. Dow's Powerhouse was the biggest name to forge this path around 2009, but the technology was possibly too expensive and perhaps impractical to take off. The company decided to stop selling this product just this past June.

Electrek deduced that the other new Tesla/SolarCity solar product will be for existing roofs. The two products are expected be unveiled by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Tesla's $2.6 billion stock offer for SolarCity awaits shareholder approval. In announcing its decision to combine with SolarCity, Tesla said it has a vision of "creating the world's only vertically integrated sustainable energy company."

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By Mark WattsBusiness
5 Reasons Why the Critics Are Wrong About the Rio Olympics

The whole world held its breath in awe on Friday watching the Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. A day later I arrived back in the city that has become my second home while Mayor Eduardo Paes has been C40's chairperson for the last two and a half years. As I sit writing this article while enjoying the extraordinary new space in Porto Maravilha, though many have criticized the city for its Olympic preparations, it's impossible not to be moved by the significance of the first-ever Olympics to be held in South America.

Olympic cities are always criticized while under the world's microscope. Though there are some shortcomings here—mostly in areas that were the responsibility of the state or federal government—it's impossible not to be impressed by the transformation in sustainable transport and public space the mayor has instigated as a direct result of taking on the challenge of hosting the world's single greatest international contest.

The promise of the Olympics has been on the horizon since current C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) Chair and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes was elected mayor in 2008. He has worked tirelessly throughout the intervening years not only to produce an event worthy of the global stage, but also to invest in and develop long-term legacy projects that will benefit the city and its inhabitants for years to come. Indeed, Mayor Paes has followed the advice of former Barcelona (also a C40 city) mayor and Olympic host Pasqual Maragall: The Olympics must serve the city, not vice versa.

Mayor Paes speaking at a press conference at Paris City Hall with C40 Mayors in 2015.C40 / Flickr

Mayor Paes has stayed true to that principle: For every one real invested in the Olympics, the city has invested five Reais in sustainable infrastructure and legacy projects. The city's ambitions for the Olympics have always been high and under Mayor Paes' leadership it has made powerful and lasting improvements for the city and its people that will endure far beyond when the last athletes have left town.

  • There has been a major expansion of the city's public transit systems, including an incredibly rapid development of bus rapid transit that means the proportion of residents using public transport has risen from under 20 percent to more than 60 percent in just 8 years, a brand new light rail system and more than 450 kilometers of cycle paths (as well as the new subway line, built by the state but for which the mayor has been a major advocate).
  • The city has completed a major renovation and revitalization of the Porto Maravilha, the city's historic birthplace. They redesigned the area in terms of mobility to make it more friendly to human-scale transit—removing the brutalist perimetral highway (indeed the first time I met Mayor Paes he apologized for being late with the excuse that he had been blowing up the very same road), adding a light vehicle tram, closing streets to cars, creating facilities for pedestrians and building the arrestingly beautiful Museum of Tomorrow.
  • Mayor Paes inaugurated the Rio Operations Center, a digital nerve center of the city in which critical services—from waste management to emergency response and traffic control—are monitored to improve the city's efficiency and emergency response. It is a model that has captured the attention of other cities across the world.
  • Though the failure to clean up the Guanabara Bay—which has been a contentious location in the lead-up to the games—falls outside the jurisdiction of the Mayor, the city has invested in a new West Zone Wastewater Treatment Plant that will benefit 430,000 people and treat 65 million liters of sewage that would otherwise be dumped in the bay. This is another fulfilled Olympic commitment and it brings better quality of life for thousands of people.
  • More than 70 percent of Olympic facilities were built by converting existing structures and some Olympic venues, like the Handball Stadium, are designed to be converted into community projects, like public schools, after the games.

Hosting an Olympics Games is no mean feat for any mayor, but it is particularly challenging when taking into consideration the political and economic turmoil Brazil has been facing over the past 12 months. Rather than criticizing what has not been done in Rio (and there are still many areas that require improvement and investment), those who care about sustainability should be praising Mayor Paes for delivering an impressive raft of infrastructure improvements, while the rest of the country has been at a virtual standstill.

Moreover, in addition to his job as mayor, Mayor Paes has also been the energetic chair of C40 since December 2013 and has been instrumental to engaging more than 20 new member cities from China, India, the Philippines, Africa and the Middle East, such that we now have a majority of members from the global south.

Under his leadership, Mayor Paes and C40 joined partners in launching the Compact of Mayors, creating a new global standard for urban emissions reporting and creating a program of effective "city determined commitments" to mirror the INDCs being pledged by nation states. Mayor Paes led from the front and Rio became the first city to be compliant with the Compact of Mayors. Rio was also the first Brazilian city to complete a study of its climate vulnerabilities and has mandated emissions cuts of 20 percent by 2020.

It has also been through Mayor Paes' personal leadership that we have created the C40 Finance Facility, to address the the startling omission of most of the world's green funds to finance city government's low carbon projects. Starting from initial generous support from the German government, Mayor Paes aims for the facility to unlock up to $1 billion worth of sustainable infrastructure in cities across low and middle-income countries by 2020.

In part because of Mayor Paes' leadership, Latin America is a focal point for city climate action this year: C40 is looking forward to hosting our flagship event, the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City at the end of November. Mexico City Mayor Mancera and Mayor Paes will host this gathering where mayors, urban experts, business people and celebrities from around the world will come together to continue positioning cities as a leading force for climate action around the world.

It is with extreme gratitude that we at C40 thank Mayor Paes for his leadership and passion. And is with great excitement that today in Rio we announced the new C40 chair: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

From left to right: Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro and Chair of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.C40 / Flickr

The C40 Steering Committee voted unanimously to elect Mayor Hidalgo, who has maintained a steadfast commitment to urban sustainability throughout her tenure thus far, emphasizing walkability in Paris, spearheading calls to better air quality across Europe and hosting the Climate Summit for Local Leaders alongside the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris last December. She will be an inspiring champion for city voices around the world, leading by example as the C40 chair-elect. She will take over from Mayor Paes after the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City later this year.

It is no coincidence, too, that Paris is currently bidding to host the 2024 Olympics, more than half of the cities that have hosted the Olympics are also C40 member cities. And, given that the International Olympic Committee has outlined a commitment to a sustainable future, it's no surprise that C40's member cities—which represent the most powerful and innovative cities in the world—are not only great places to live, work and prosper, but are also make supremely competent Olympic hosts.

Mayor Paes has been an exceptional leader for the last several years and Rio has set an example for other cities around the world seeking a clean development pathway. We look forward to Mayor Hidalgo carrying that charge forward for the critical years to come.

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By AlterNetBusiness
The ‘Biggest, Baddest’ Bike Share Program in the World

By Christopher Cheung / The Tyee

You might think that the world's largest public bike share system would be in Europe. After all, that's where bike-share first started in 1965 in Amsterdam.

Hangzhou is home to the world's largest public bike share system. David Tubau

But the largest is actually in a city of 9-million in southeast China: Hangzhou. The city is known for being the southern terminus of the Grand Canal and its beautiful scenery, such as the landmark West Lake.

This video "The Biggest, Baddest Bike-Share in the World" by Streetfilms, an organization that makes short videos about transportation, shows off the Hangzhou program's efficiency. As of 2013, there are 66,500 bikes and 2,700 stations and the city's goal is to expand to 175,000 bikes by 2020.

Leaders realized that building more roads and even increasing public transit was not efficient enough to get citizens where they needed.

"None of them solved the last mile issue," says a transportation consultant in the video "and that's where bike sharing came in."

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

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