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  • Writer's pictureGWMP

Staff Spotlight: Jacquelyn Francis

Jacquelyn Francis is the Global Warming Mitigation Project’s (GWMP) founder, Executive Director, and board member. Jacquelyn has led GWMP toward our vision for a livable future by pioneering and organizing the past four Keeling Curve Prizes. The prize awards $250,000 annually to projects that demonstrate their ability to reduce, eliminate, or avoid greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with the ultimate goal to restore the natural carbon balance in our atmosphere.

Our communications team spoke with Jacquelyn to understand the ambition that drove her to start GWMP and her thoughts about this year’s Keeling Curve Prize.

Why did you start GWMP?

JF: While I was pursuing a Master’s degree in Energy Policy and Climate at Johns Hopkins University, it seemed clear to me that there were solutions for emissions reductions happening all over the world. There was evidence that we had multiple ways to draw down the emissions causing global warming, and yet, humans weren't doing it at the scale and speed necessary.

I believed my skillset was suited for analyzing programs and projects around the world that were effectively reducing greenhouse gases, communicating the need, and motivating funders. The Keeling Curve Prize and the idea of rewarding projects and programs through a prize made a lot of sense to me and seemed to be missing in our world.

What do you think makes GWMP and/or the Keeling Curve Prize valuable to the climate overall?

JF: There are a lot of people out there getting attention for talking about climate solutions. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people that are funding the deployment of the solutions that will immediately draw down greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere and oceans.

GWMP isn’t about talking, we’re finding and funding solutions that need to be implemented right now, as quickly as possible. I believe we are far and away ahead of most organizations that are trying to wrap their heads around what needs to be done to tackle the climate crisis. We’re identifying what needs to be done and activating it in multiple ways.

What’s something that you’d like everyone to know about climate change?

JF: Close to 80% of the solutions to the energy transition and emission abatement already exist, and are waiting to be scaled up. Scaling these solutions is something that we, as a society, need to have the desire to do. We need to invest more money and more excitement into them. I’d also like people to know that the economic cost of not doing something will be far greater than the economic cost of doing the right things now.

The Keeling Curve Prize is opening up soon! What are you hoping to see out of the applicants this year?

JF: I would love to see some surprises, some things that I don’t even know are going on. That’s always exciting for me when I’m surprised by the creativity of ideas and solutions.

People are getting more creative and as younger people are maturing into their careers they’re finding new ways to make solutions that are smart and effective. I love seeing that!

I’m really excited about seeing more applications in areas like transport & mobility, and finance. These are really important sectors that aren’t necessarily getting as much attention and as much enthusiasm around the solutions.

From your perspective, how has the prize changed since it first started in 2018?

JF: We’re learning all the time. The prize started with some different categories, and we have iterated on our categories so that they can stand the test of time and can incorporate a lot of the variety of solutions. The climate issue encompasses everything on our planet, and our prize categories are a reflection of that.

As the prize has changed over the years, it's not fundamentally changed in what it’s trying to do. The prize has only continued to grow geographically, in prestige, and in relevance.

What is your vision for the future of GWMP and the Keeling Curve Prize?

JF: I’d love to see the prize purse double, triple, and quadruple. I’d love to see funding for us to have regional prizes all around the world; I think that would be incredibly impactful. People need to be met where they are, and locally, people have solutions for their community that are far more effective than what anyone outside their community can come up with. This regional approach takes equity into account; we want to elevate people everywhere. I want people everywhere to feel like they are a part of this energy transition. I want people to feel like this future is something their community can rally around and benefit from.

We don’t necessarily all have to be on the same page when it comes to climate change, but we all need to be working toward the goal of getting off fossil fuels and reducing emissions. It doesn’t matter if our solutions are around the ocean we’re fishing in, or the forests where we grow our coffee, or in a boardroom where we’re making decisions about how a company will be sustainable - we need to take our greenhouse gas emissions into account. We all may have different ways to get there, but I’d like to see this organization really teach people about all the possible and necessary solutions to global warming.

What is your vision for the Earth? What is your hope?

JF: We have to tackle the climate challenge. The further we kick this can down the road, the more impossible it’s going to be to ever tackle the challenge.

I want people to know that this challenge is hard but it’s still possible. We know it’s possible. But, it’s not magic that’s going to solve the climate crisis; it’s human ingenuity and persistence. This is an all-hands-on-deck problem, it needs all of us. It’s about humanity’s survival. It’s not something we can ignore, it’s not something that we have the time to be scared of. We have to face it.

Apply for this year’s Keeling Curve Prize starting on November 1, 2021! Read more about the prize and eligibility requirements.


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