Healthy Clean Cities – with Rich Kassel of Capalino, an Urban Strategy Firm

Episode 31

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Hosted by
Ron Kamen

Ron Kamen has decades of expertise & leadership in catalyzing exponential change in sustainable energy adoption with governments, non-profits, and businesses.

Quantum Quote: “Anybody who tells you they know what the future is going to be in 10 years is either lying to you or they’re lying to themselves.”

Over half of all the people in the world currently live in cities – and the number is expected to increase to two-thirds of the world by 2050.

Cities need large amounts of energy, water, food – and transportation – for millions of people every day.

How can we create sustainable, healthy, and environmentally-friendly cities?

Rich Kassel has been a leader in the environmental community for more than three decades, including 21 years as a Senior Transportation Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He works with new and established companies and non-profit groups to develop low-carbon, sustainable business strategies and to facilitate the adoption of innovative building, energy, resiliency, transportation and water technologies.

He also currently co-chairs the US EPA’s technical review subcommittee on transportation and air quality issues, and serves on the boards of several environmental organizations.

In this episode, Rich talks about sustainable clean-energy driven cities where everyone can experience a healthier life and a clean, pollution-free environment.

He also talks about decarbonisation. Where passenger vehicles are all electric;  heavy-duty vehicles use low or zero carbon fuels; and big companies and industries use clean energy for their electricity, heat and transportation.

Sign up for the free 90-minute AWESome EarthKind™ Clean Energy Demonstration to discover 3 simple actions you can take to start saving money and make the world a better place – without having to learn complex technology.

SuperNova #1: [Electric Vehicle vs. Liquid Fuels]. “People should think first: what is the goal? Electrification or decarbonisation? How you answer that leads you to a different solution. For me, it’s decarbonisation. The key is to not pick the technology, but to pick the outcome.”

SuperNova #2:”Electrification and decarbonisation are both useful in their own way. If you’re going in for light-duty family cars, commuting cars, passenger cars, that is for electrification. It’s different with a heavy duty truck or bus. As the engines get bigger and the duty cycles get harder, electrification becomes harder, and the answer starts to be much more around decarbonizing the fuel.”

SuperNova #3: “People can do a lot to help companies succeed in their decarbonisation journey. A lot of people might not want to be vegetarian, but your burger is one of the biggest carbon contributions of your daily life. Be mindful of your choices and support policies that will help us decarbonize.”

Worst Clean Energy Moment: “ had a lunchtime debate with the head policy guy for the South African oil company. We went on with 200 people in the audience, and it was great. I scored my points. I was smart. And I had a response to anything he said, and so on, so forth…

Afterwards, as he and I were walking out of the room, he said to me, ‘You know, Rich, you can’t beat me. Today’s Tuesday, I’m willing to bet by Monday, you’re going to be back at your desk in New York and I’m going to be here, lobbying parliament against everything you just said. You can’t beat me from a desk in New York.”

It was a kick in the gut. But it was an important lesson about the importance of boots on the ground and recognizing that, when you take on an issue, you have to be willing to dedicate the resources that it’s going to take to really achieve your goals.”

Ah-Ha: When I realized that in order to convert the MTA fleet to a cleaner fuel, I would have to spend my whole life waging 19 different ground wars to convert 19 different depots across their system, one by one by one.  Instead, we focused on fuel-neutral, technology-neutral solutions that were outcome-based. We reduced pollutants by 95%, and created a new model that is now used around the world.

Best Advice: Set your goal, stick to it and trust yourself.

Personal Success: I really like to ride a bike to figure stuff out. At least once – and usually twice a week – I get on a bike for two or three hours. I actually spend most of my time thinking about whatever vexing problem I have. By the end of the ride, I usually know what to do.

Internet Resources: World Economic Forum and Adam McKenzie

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):   https://www.nrdc.org/

Book Recommendation: Anything by Haruki Murakami

Magic Wand: I got three. 1: Wave the magic wand and we have solved climate change, as it is the existential threat that we face. 2: Go back to my early days and really focus my environmental advocacy around health issues. 3: I have dinner with Bruce Springsteen one night, and we have a good long talk because his music and his words have been the soundtrack of much of my life.

WTF or F:  I grew up by the beach.I used to love going out to the beach to watch the waves and watch the clouds.I have so many vivid memories of specific hurricanes and tropical storms as they came towards the south shore of Long Island or other beaches.

One thing that Energizes Rich today: Today, Monday, November 9. I’m just super energized by Joe Biden. On a deeper level, I’m really energized about the next generation.

Parting Advice: Stick to it,.Think about what we want to achieve, whether that’s energy or otherwise. Keep rowing the boat in that direction and know that with each day, we get a little bit closer. 

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Episode 31