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Can Bumble Bee and Nestlé hook the world on fishless fish?

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Put down that beet-juice burger. The next big wave in plant-based protein is fake fish.

Buoyed by the success of red-meat mimics from the likes of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, a growing number of companies is angling to capture their share of the early market for animal-free seafood.

Large companies including Bumble Bee, Nestlé, Tyson, General Mills and Thai Union are making various plays, whether by investing in upstarts or flexing their research and development muscles to formulate new products.

The startup space is buoyant with cash and targeting a blend of retail, direct-to-consumer and food service channels, playing with ingredients such as kelp, koji and mung beans. Plant-based and cultivated seafood companies raised $80 million in 2020, according to the nonprofit Good Food Institute (GFI), which counts 800 companies involved in the space. Overall, businesses creating all sorts of meat alternatives raised $3.1 billion last year, more than three times the level of 2019. Alternative meat, dairy and egg products make up more than half of that, at $2.1 billion.

Plant-based seafood only accounts for 1 percent of alt-meat sales, compared with 60 percent for beef, poultry and pork analogs, according to data from GFI and retail insights firm SPINS. Yet GFI has positioned the market for fake fish to become bigger, or at least more diverse, than those for beef and poultry alternatives.

The nonprofit has named the threatened collapse of fisheries and unmet demand for seafood alternatives as important factors. By 2030, it expects demand for seafood to be 30 percent higher than 2010 levels. Plus, the tens of thousands of edible creatures in the oceans offer a broader palette of flavors and textures to imitate compared with land mammals or fowl.

This is not lab grown meat; we actually use ancient techniques to make modern foods.

Plant-based seafoods are spawning in the freezers and aisles of mainstream stores. Gathered Foods’ Good Catch “tuna” is in a number of outlets, including Publix and Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s plans to stock alt-seafood, too.

The pitch

Acceptance of plant-based proteins has grown quickly in recent years as consumer sentiment has been shifting away from meat. Unlike the early days of tofu and tempeh, today’s alt-proteins are designed to please flexitarians and omnivores, not just to fill a gap for vegetarians or vegans.

Plus, the touted sustainability benefits to deriving seafood-like ingredients from plants include reducing the reliance on open-sea fishing and fish farming, not to mention sidestepping the labor abuses found in seafood supply chains.

Seafood stand-ins not only promise a low carbon footprint, but they also seek to serve people with dietary restrictions. For example, kelp-based “shrimp” is kosher and won’t trigger a life-threatening shellfish allergy. If the sourcing is done carefully, fake fish also should be devoid of the mercury and microplastics that can stem from ocean plastic pollution.

Here in random order are several key companies making waves in alt-seafood:

Nestlé

Nestlé has the advantage of already employing 300 scientists, engineers and product developers spread across eight research and development centers. The food juggernaut’s alt-seafood explorations are being made by Nestlé Research in Switzerland and in Germany and the United States under the leadership of CEO Mark Schneider, a vocal proponent of the sustainability potential of plant-based nutrition.

Nestle plant-based tuna, released in 2020 in Switzerland.

Nestlé often describes plant-based food as part of its DNA; in 1886 founder Julius Maggi developed soups with a “meaty,” plant-based seasoning. The company’s Coffeemate nondairy creamer, born in 1961, is complemented today by nondairy almond, oat, coconut, soy and rice milks. Nestlé’s Garden Gourmet veggie burgers are well established in supermarkets, as are its vegetable-based sausages, chicken nuggets and lunch meats. The company’s sales of vegetarian and plant-based items grew by more than $222 million in 2019 and leaped by 40 percent in the first half of 2020.

“In general, there is a lot of dynamism and innovation in this sector, and that is a good thing,” said Torsten Pohl, head of the Nestlé Product Technology Center in Singen, Germany, via email.

He credited Nestlé’s scale, size and proprietary technologies with accelerating the development of plant-based, jarred tuna in a matter of nine months, leading to the release of the six-ingredient, pea-protein-centered “fish” last year in Switzerland. Nestlé scientists, chefs and technologists prototyped and tested the new products in retail outlets, producing early commercial batches in its R&D centers.

Defining success for me is when I can sit down in a restaurant and order our product off the menu.

“We want to offer people the best plant-based meat alternatives in terms of taste, texture, flavor and nutrition,” Pohl said. “To complement our internal capabilities, we also strategically collaborate with researchers, suppliers, startups and various other innovation partners.”

Nestlé cites the sustainability benefits of reducing overfishing and protecting ocean biodiversity as motivators of these projects. Following its tuna substitute, the company plans to release imitation shellfish and other fish next.

New Wave Foods

Shellfish are the specialty of New Wave Foods, which Tyson Ventures, chicken giant Tyson’s VC arm, backed in 2019. The startup completed a Series A $18 million funding round late last year.

The San Francisco-based startup is making mungbean and seaweed-based shrimp that’s supposed to have the “snap” and succulence of the real thing and can be dropped into any hot or cold shrimp recipe.

“2021 is the year of the shrimp,” said Michelle Wolf, co-founder of New Wave Foods, which is doubling its staff of 15 people by the end of the year and moving its Connecticut R&D kitchen to New York. “And that’s what we’re really focused on is just blowing out our shrimp product over the next year and delivering that movement.”

New Wave Foods' "shrimp" tacos, anyone?

A main New Wave Foods ingredient is moisture-absorbent alginate, derived from brown kelp and used in biomedical applications including hydrogel for wounds. New Wave blends it with mungbeans. To recreate the colors and textures of shrimp, the team consulted with Brad Barnes, a certified master chef and director of consulting at the Culinary Institute of America. The product is kosher and doesn’t trigger problems for people who can’t eat soy or gluten either, according to New Wave.

In March, the company inked a deal with Dot Foods, one of the nation’s largest food distributors, aimed toward rolling out New Wave-branded shrimp on the menus of foodservice institutions and restaurants, which make up the vast majority of the market for shrimp. Wolf believes the disruption of the pandemic has caused consumers to embrace plant-based foods partly as a way to address climate change on a personal level. To reach young adult flexitarians, college campus dining is a special target for New Wave, in addition to corporate dining and independent chains that have weathered COVID well.

Market research in April by Fact.MR projected “shrimp” to be the most popular product in alternative seafood.

“We saw a huge opportunity with shrimp because it is by and far the most consumed seafood in the United States, but it is also the poster child for a lot of issues in our seafood supply chain,” said Wolf, who moved to San Francisco from Pittsburgh following a master’s in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, seeking to join a plant-based meat startup. Instead, she co-founded her own venture. 

Depending on who’s counting, about half of shrimp is farmed, which in Southeast Asia has been wiping out coast-protecting mangrove trees. Shrimp is responsible for four times as many greenhouse gas emissions as the same amount of steak by weight, according to a study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in 2017. (It described the carbon footprint of a steak and shrimp cocktail dinner as equivalent to driving from Los Angeles to New York City.)

In general, there is a lot of dynamism and innovation in this sector, and that is a good thing.

Seaweed, on the other hand, which makes up New Wave’s shrimp-mimic, sequesters carbon and reduces ocean acidification. Wolf hopes that spurring demand for plant-derived shrimp will have upstream effects, such as boosting beneficial ocean-based agriculture while reducing demand for farmed shrimp.

“Defining success for me … it’s when I can sit down in a restaurant — which is going to be sooner rather than later — and order our product off the menu and text my family back in Pittsburgh and say, ‘Hey, you know, go to so-and-so and get the shrimp,'” she said. “That’s going to be the moment for me where like, wow, we’ve really done something here.”

Prime Roots

The mission-driven, direct-to-consumer brand Prime Roots is seeking to open the hearts and minds of consumers while helping to reduce the market for animal-based products. “Bacon” was an early offering, and “lobster” ravioli is its latest. Its fermented “superprotein” koji is the key ingredient. Koji mold, the fungus Aspergillus oryzae, has been core to savory foods for millennia throughout Asia.

Koji can be tinkered with fairly easily to replicate the texture of muscle fibers of various creatures. Additional ingredients are added to bump up nutrition and finetune the mouthfeel. From Prime Roots’ R&D kitchen in west Berkeley, California, the five-year-old company grows koji in a nutrient-rich broth in a process similar to brewing beer.

Prime Roots' koji-based ravioli. A gluten-free version is being formulated.

“This is not lab-grown meat; we actually use ancient techniques to make modern foods,” said Kimberlie Le, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “I wouldn’t have even thought to look at koji as a source of protein if I hadn’t started to learn about fermentation when I was like 4 or 5 years old with my mom.” Her mother, Chi Le, is a well-known chef who appeared on the show MasterChef Vietnam.

With a staff of 25, Prime Roots is small but Kimberlie Le believes its proprietary koji brewing can scale up fairly easily. Pound per pound of protein, its processes are far more resource-efficient than harvesting meat from animals, the company estimated.

“We really hope that people will support that and see that there’s a better way of eating and making protein and that we’re fundamentally rethinking our system,” Le said. “We’re really excited to be able to be there for our community online and really get to go from farm to table, essentially, which is something that’s important, to connect people to their food and where it comes from.”

Gathered Foods’ Good Catch

Good Catch is becoming the most visible fish-free consumer brand in the frozen aisles, where its bags of shelf-stable “tuna” already appear. The company uses a “six-legume” blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans.

In May, its maker, central Ohio-based Gathered Foods, released a line of $6 frozen fish sticks to be sold in Safeway and other supermarkets, following an April Series B funding round of $26.4 million. Good Catch is in 5,000 U.S. and Canadian stores, and its plant-based tuna salad is bound for 200 Whole Foods prepared food counters.

The irreverent Gathered Foods co-founders, brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, have corporate roots at Whole Foods. The self-described “culinary ninjas” also launched the Wicked Healthy plant-based community, and Chad continues to lead plant-based developments as an executive at Tesco.

Good Catch is offering breaded frozen "fish".

Gathered Foods has attracted funding from celebrities Woody Harrelson and Paris Hilton, and early in 2020 pulled in an investment from General Mills’ venture branch, 301 Inc, an early backer of Impossible Foods. 301 Inc’s founder and managing director John Haugen told GreenBiz that seafood is “another compelling proposition that meets the needs of consumers today.”

Among its other big-name supporters, Gathered Foods has a distribution partnership with tuna titan Bumble Bee. 

Bumble Bee

Founded in 1899, Bumble Bee claims 28 percent of the market for shelf-stable seafood including tuna, salmon and sardines. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019, a move industry observers blamed not just on a price-fixing scandal but on a lack of innovation. Taiwan-based seafood trader FCF now owns Bumble Bee.

At the same time, consumers had been turning away from canned tuna, especially the millennials and members of Generation Z, known to circle the fresh and chilled items that tend to ring the perimeter of a grocery store. Packaged tuna sales in general, lackluster for years, enjoyed a temporary lift during the early months of the pandemic.

I honestly thought I was eating conventional shrimp when I took a bite of it.

Those events and trends sent Bumble Bee on a process of soul searching, which led to redefining its purpose as “feeding people’s lives through the power of the ocean.” Beyond fish, the San Diego-based company is casting a wide net by considering ingredients derived from plants and algae, from fermentation and from cell-based or cultivated methods, too.

Bumble Bee points out that it’s the first shelf-stable seafood name to support regenerative practices for the ocean, as well as the first to offer a tuna traceability tool to its customers and to use blockchain technology to trace its frozen seafood’s origins.

“With all of that, it became very natural to start talking to a company like Good Catch,” said Renee Junge, Bumble Bee’s communications vice president. The tuna giant and the alt-food startup signed a distribution agreement in March 2020, the first relationship of its kind between a major national seafood brand and a plant-based one.

Bumble Bee sells some tuna in pouches rather than cans.

The two CEOs — Jan Tharp of Bumble Bee and Christine Mei of Gathered Foods — speak on a weekly basis. Bumble Bee brings its expertise in sales, orders, logistics and warehousing together with Good Catch’s expertise in innovation and production. Through investing in systems and resources, the tuna maker gets a cut of Good Catch’s sales. Bumble Bee describes this joint alignment as reflecting the companies’ shared values of protecting the ocean via alternative food sources.

“That said, our two companies do have different histories, origin stories, business approaches and cultures,” said Tharp, who also serves on Gathered Foods’ board, via email. “There is a great deal that we can learn from Good Catch; their entrepreneurial and culinary approaches are something we are trying to incorporate into our practices. On the other side, we have systems and processes that are tried and true, which can help Good Catch with efficiencies and scalability. These types of partnerships are not easy, but they are fruitful and essential.”

Other alt-fish players

Alternative proteins are a big focus for the future of another tuna giant. Thai Union in March began selling its OMG Meat products in Thailand, including meat-free crab meat, fish nuggets and dim sum. The Chicken of the Sea seller is working on “shrimp” as well.

The tiny Van Cleve Seafood Co. in October began marketing crunchy coconut “shrimp” in Publix’s GreenWise grocery stores. From the Netherlands, Schouten is exploring alt-tuna with its wheat and soy-based TuNo, and it plans to follow with salmon-like and cod-like products. The private company has been producing plant-based proteins since the 1990s.

An ad for Thai Union's new OMG Meat.

Meanwhile, lab-grown fish is taking off. Out of San Diego, startup Blue Nalu hopes to bring its cultured mahi-mahi to U.S. plates this year. It reeled in $60 million in debt financing in January. Its partnerships with larger companies include Nutreco, Griffith Foods, Pulmuone, Rich Products and Thai Union Group. Blue Nalu is building a demonstration kitchen with a microbrewery-style restaurant, reportedly able to grow analogs to red snapper, yellowtail amberjack and bluefin tuna.

What’s next?

This is just a sampling of the organizations exploring the seafood-analog realm. It’s possible that pioneers in alternative proteins, such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, will break their silence with offerings in this area as well.

Jen Lamy, senior manager of GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative, is excited to see big-name companies getting involved here and hopes others will dive in. What’s the business benefit?

“There’s a lot to be gained from companies in this space that pertains also to the efficiency and the ease of the production system compared to relying on a supply of, for example, wild capture fish from the ocean,” she said. “There are all of these reasons coming together at the same time that will, hopefully drive a lot of the companies into the space.”

I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of other companies really focused on taste above everything else because that’s what consumers need to need to experience before anything else.

Business-to-business activities could accelerate innovations, she added. For instance, companies could open-source their technologies for seafood textures or flavor profiles, she noted. “There’s not sort of one code that everyone is trying to crack,” Lamy said. “Because there are so many differences between the companies, they’re all using either certain ingredients or going for different products or going for different markets.”

Consumers have been interested in supporting ocean sustainability for a long time, buying Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish or buying from local fishmongers, but the options for acting on those values haven’t been clear in the past, Lamy said. Not only do plant-based options provide a clearer sustainability story, but the rise of sustainability labeling for them will help to boost consumer confidence.

An additional selling point for seafood stand-ins is their nutritional benefits, as chefs seek to right the wrongs of their predecessor, the low-protein, additive-packed crabstick, industrialized since the 1970s. (Its main ingredient is blended-up fish product called surimi, which has been used in Japan for about 800 years.)

A key challenge to winning over consumers is in delivering a seafood aroma that’s not intensely fishy, Lamy noted. Among the early offerings she has tasted, the coconut “shrimp” from family-owned Van Cleve Seafood stood out.

“It was pretty impressive to me; I honestly thought I was eating conventional shrimp when I took a bite of it,” she said. “I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of other companies really focused on taste above everything else, because that’s what consumers need to experience before anything else.”

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Source: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/can-bumble-bee-and-nestle-hook-world-fishless-fish

Cleantech

A Look At Tesla’s Conflict Minerals Report

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Last month, Tesla released its Conflict Mineral Report for the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2019, and emphasized the importance of sourcing only responsibly produced materials. “This means having safe and humane working conditions in our supply chain and ensuring that workers are treated with respect and dignity,” the company said in its SEC filing.

Tesla’s Conflict Minerals Policy

Some common myths surrounding Tesla and mining include the idea thatg Tesla is using child or slave labor. Tesla ensured that it obtains the minerals in its products humanely and that it doesn’t use child labor, slavery, or human trafficking. Although Tesla’s suppliers obtain many of its minerals, Tesla has emphasized that they must be DRC Conflict Free. This means armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (or any adjoining country) such as those utilizing slave or child labor do not benefit from Tesla’s purchase of minerals.

In the filing, Tesla shared what these conflict minerals are:

  • Columbite-tantalite (Tantalum)
  • Cassiterite (Tin)
  • Gold
  • Wolframite (Tungsten)
  • and any derivatives of the above.

If these minerals do not benefit armed groups within the DRC or its adjoining countries, then they are considered conflict-free. Tesla’s suppliers are required to establish policies, due diligence frameworks, and management systems consistent with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (OECD Guidance).

The company also expected its suppliers to stay up to date with and use validated conflict-free smelters and refiners that are assessed by the Responsible Mineral Initiative (RMI) and similar organizations.

“Tesla recognizes the importance of mining responsibly and in a way that contributes to economic and social opportunity and development in the DRC region. Suppliers are allowed to source from the DRC or its adjoining countries, so long as it is from validated conflict-free sources such as smelters recognized as conformant under the RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Program (“RMAP”).”

Tesla’s Human Rights Policy

Tesla stated that it is committed to ensuring that slave or child labor or human trafficking isn’t happening within its supply chain. Although these types are slavery are crimes under state, federal, and international laws, it still happens. Tesla has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to slavery, though.

“Tesla does not, and will not, tolerate the use of slave or child labor in the manufacturing of its products and does not, and will not, accept products or services from suppliers that engage in human trafficking in any form.”

Tesla ensures that its suppliers are in compliance with its expectations, code, and policy along with applicable legal requirements, and in order to do this, it is committed to the following:

  • Continuously evaluating our supply chain to address any risks related to conflict minerals, human trafficking, slavery, and child labor.
  • Reviewing suppliers’ practices to ensure their compliance with Tesla’s Policy.
  • Requiring our Tier 1 suppliers to certify that their materials incorporated into Tesla products comply with the applicable laws related to conflict minerals, slavery, child labor, and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business.
  • Disciplining contractors and appropriate parties who fail to meet the requirement of our Code and Policy, including potential termination of contract.
  • Ensuring appropriate Tesla employees are aware of issues regarding conflict minerals, human trafficking, child labor, and slavery, particularly with respect to mitigating risks within Tesla’s supply chain.
  • Investigating if Tesla has a reasonable basis to believe that a supplier may be engaging in human trafficking, slave or child labor, or use of conflict minerals.
  • Transitioning away from purchasing goods or services from any supplier that is believed to be engaging in human trafficking, slave or child labor, or use of conflict minerals if the supplier does not take corrective actions.

Tesla’s Process Of Due Diligence

Tesla’s conflict minerals process and policies aim to follow the OECD Guidance and it has several steps it takes in order to ensure this. They are:

Establish Strong Company Management Systems. This includes its Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy along with the published Tesla Supplier Code of Conduct. Tesla also has a supplier manual that addresses its policies on conflict minerals while stating the company’s expectations of its suppliers. Tesla also has a specialized team within its supply chain organization that leads the company’s due diligence efforts.

Identify and Assess Risk in the Supply Chain. Tesla has a risk identification and assessment process that starts with the RCOI process and then leverages the CMRT. Its in-scope Tier 1 suppliers are engaged multiple times during this process, and internal stakeholders are also engaged. This is to emphasize the importance of participation by Tesla’s suppliers.

Along with this, Tesla collects supplier data over a 10-week period to allow for follow-up and further validation. The company carefully monitors responses from its suppliers on their own internal policies and processes regarding conflict minerals.

Design and Implement a Strategy to Respond to Identified Risks. Tesla monitors smelter validation progress by the RMI, and the Steering Committee will review and take action if there are any concerns with supplier responses throughout the data collection process.

Perform Independent Third-Party Audit of Supply Chain Due Diligence. Tesla fully supports the RMI, which audits due diligence activities of smelters and refiners. It supports the organization’s outreach efforts and RMAP smelter audits by being a member of these programs. Tesla also has the right to ask any high-risk Tier 1 supplier to audit their supply chain conflict minerals due diligence program using a third-party independent auditor.

You can read Tesla’s full Conflict Minerals Report here.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/20/a-look-at-teslas-conflict-minerals-report/

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Ford CEO On Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model S Plaid Drag Race: “A Good Idea”

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Oh, this would be fun and exciting to watch if this happened. Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, agreed that having a drag race with Tesla is a good idea — the Mustang Mach-E vs the new Tesla Plaid Model S. Having been in the Model S Plaid and experiencing that acceleration — and, well, just looking at the specs — I believe the Tesla would win hands down. It is the quickest production car in history, after all. However, this doesn’t mean the cars shouldn’t have a race. The two cars would be working together to raise awareness about just how great the performance of EVs is on the track. This gets people excited about EVs and this is what we want.

The idea about a drag race was posed after Farley thanked Ford Performance for letting him test drive the vehicle in the above tweet. When asked if the Mustang Mach-E would be drag racing the Tesla Model S Plaid “for bragging rights,” Farley replied, “good idea.”

The Plaid Model S has three electric motors that produce 1,020 horsepower and is larger than the Mach-E. The Mach-E 1400 has no fewer than seven electric motors with three in the front and four in the rear, giving it a total of 1,400 horsepower (hence the unique name). Does this make this Mach-E a worthy competitor? Considering that the Plaid Model S is faster than the Bugatti Chiron and other million-dollar supercars, that’s certainly a tall order. Maybe. Maybe not. However, it would be pretty fun to see two American automakers racing their quickest EVs!

Ford says that its Mach-E GT can go from 0–60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The Plaid Model S is able to go from 0–60 mph in 1.99 seconds — 1.98 seconds was also just recorded by Motor Trend.

I also want to note another comparison that comes partly from riding in the Model S Plaid during the delivery event. I watched the video in Farley’s tweet and noticed that the Mustang Mach-E was louder than the Model S Plaid. It could be that the audio picked up the sound more clearly, or it could be actually louder. The Plaid Model S was much quieter for me — even when I watched the vehicles in action while waiting on my test ride. The motors didn’t have a whine or any sound coming from them beyond whatever soundproofing Tesla had in there — you could only hear the wind rushing as the car sped down the track. Hurricane Delta’s winds were louder than the Model S Plaid.

I think Tesla should take Farley up on that “good idea” and have the race. It would be great to see the two vehicles racing, and no matter who won the race, it would be a win for sustainability and electric vehicles by simply creating buzz about the cars.


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Coal Miner Turned Activist & Tesla Owner Is Sharing The Tesla Experience With Other Miners To Advance Tesla’s Mission

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Coal Miners Driving Teslas may seem like an oxymoron at first, but in the case of this particular YouTube channel, it’s actually something pretty amazing. I came across the story of these two brothers while working on another article about GM’s plan to convince Australia to adopt EVs. The two brothers, Daniel and Tim Bleakley, have created a YouTube channel where they share the experience of coal miners in Australia as they drive a Tesla.

Daniel Bleakley, a native of Queensland, worked in the mining industry in Western Australia. He lost his job during the global financial crisis and started a printing company — only to later step away from that to focus on climate activism. “I’ve been growing it ever since but now I’ve stepped away to focus on climate activism. I’ve done a few actions with Extinction Rebellion, did a 10-day hunger strike. I was arrested for gluing myself to the Siemens window,” he told Crikey. “I put my life on hold to agitate for change.”

Upon buying a Tesla, he was impressed with the car and wound up lending it to his brother, who was working in the coal mines. His brother showed it to some of his work colleagues and Daniel encouraged his brother to record their reactions. And thus, the series was born.

The brothers are making an impact in a way that isn’t confrontational, and who better to share the Tesla experience with than coal miners — people who are exposing their health daily to mine an energy source that is also killing our planet. Although I reserve no ill judgment on the miners themselves — we all have to do what we can to survive — I think it actually provides a sense of hope to the workers who may fear green and clean energy as the reason that their jobs will one day be gone.

Why hope? Because the demand for clean energy will equal the demand for workers in these fields. Miners and other fossil fuel employees would be a great asset to any energy company that is either making the switch to renewables or focusing on only creating renewable energy.

Notable Reactions

Ashleigh.

This is one of the newer videos. Ashleigh works as a heavy machinery operator. She drives haul trucks at a coal mine in Central Queensland, and this was her first time driving a Tesla. After exploring the display and getting comfortable, the first thing she noticed about the Tesla was that it was quiet as she drove. She noted that she felt that it had really nice traction. “It’s weird it slows it down for you almost like you’re using the brakes,” she said.

Just past the train tracks, Bleakly had Ashleigh do 0–100 kilometers/hour (0–62 mph for those of us here in the U.S.). Her reaction was the same as mine when I first experienced it as a rider in Wade’s Tesla Model 3. However, she was driving it in this case and you can clearly see how thrilled she was as she floored the accelerator. “Oh my god! That was in, like, 2 seconds.”

“Holy moly, dude,” she added as she floored it again.

Rearne.

Rearne works at a coal mine in Central Queensland and Bleakley met him while Rearne was riding his motorbike in the lane next to him. He rolled down the window and invited Rearne for a drive. The first thing Rearne noticed was how quiet the vehicle was. “You can’t hear anything,” he said.

Rearne also got to experience the 0–100 km/h rush. As he floored it and Bleakley asked him how it was, he laughed and said, “Awesome.”

“Oh, that is cool,” he added.

Bob Katter.

MP Katter has been a member of the Australian parliament for almost 30 years and he wants to see manufacturing brought back to Australia. This was his first time doing 0–100 km/h in a Tesla. Katter actually rode as a passenger in the 27-second clip. “Yeehaw!” he exclaimed.

Brock.

Brock has a machining shop with 13 employees and does work for coal mines in the region. Brock has also had many powerful fossil-fuel vehicles over the years and this was his first Tesla experience. Brock was ready to floor it, but Bleakley had him come to a complete stop first just past an intersection. After flooring it, Brock’s reaction was, “Holy fucking hell!” His eyes got a bit blurry also.

“Now, Brock, you’ve got plenty of powerful cars. Have you ever felt much like that?” Bleakley asked. Brock admitted that the Tesla had some good traction.

The Bleakley brothers have a Patreon and are raising awareness about electric vehicles. They want to change the conversation about EVs in Australia by “putting bums in seats and letting politicians, sports stars, celebrities, and regular Aussies experience the incredible performance of EVs for themselves.” The funds from their Patreon will enable them to travel across the country while filming reactions, talking about cleantech, and talking about the post-carbon economy for Australia.

Feel free to chip in here for as low as $3.


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The Save Our Future Act Offers Blueprint for Supporting Coal Workers & Communities

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Originally published by Union of Concerned Scientists, The Equation.
By Jeremy Richardson, Senior Energy Analyst

Climate champs Senators Whitehouse and Schatz introduced a solutions-oriented bill today that would put a price on emissions of heat-trapping gases as well as criteria air pollutants and use the revenues to mitigate the impacts of the policy on consumers, workers, and communities. Dubbed the Save Our Future Act, the bill is an example of a bold set of policy solutions to the urgency of climate change.

UCS supports many elements of the bill, but I’ll focus in on one of the groundbreaking pieces — the Energy Veterans title, which would invest in the coal workers and communities facing the consequences of shifting to cleaner forms of energy. The proposal represents a bold vision for making these workers and communities whole in the face of the urgency of climate change.

Leadership

Long a champion of pricing carbon emissions to tackle the climate crisis, Sen. Whitehouse understands that the transition away from coal will have a profound impact on those workers and communities that depend on coal for jobs and economic livelihoods. And he understands that workers and their families have sacrificed for generations in order to help keep the lights on — referring to them as energy veterans to emphasize that we should collectively respect them for their service to the nation.

The benefits and resources outlined in the bill represent the boldest proposal to date to support the workers and communities who will otherwise be left behind in the shift to clean energy. Although challenging, it’s critical to acknowledge the negative impacts of the policy and address them head-on. That means ensuring well-funded and sustained resources for coal workers and communities — resources that must be included no matter how Congress ultimately decides to address climate change.

Supporting energy veterans …

The reality is that the transition away from coal-fired electricity is already happening. The problem is that the transition is happening haphazardly, without much planning or forethought. This lack of planning is leading to devastating consequences for workers and communities. Our recent report with the Utility Workers Union of America articulated a robust and comprehensive set of policies and showed that the cost of these resources is affordable relative to large investments made by the government in times of crisis. We argued that providing income support for dislocated workers gives them the time they need to prepare and plan for what comes next. The key is providing wage replacement for a period of time, which gives individuals the flexibility to make informed choices, rather than to rush to take the quickest training program that would land them a new job.

The Whitehouse-Schatz bill takes a page from our report. It specifically:

  • Creates a new coordinating office in the Department of Treasury charged with distributing benefits and resources, establishing local field offices to assist affected workers and communities, and (importantly) coordinating support among federal agencies;
  • Provides five years of full wage replacement for laid-off coal miners and coal-fired power plant workers;
  • Ensures workers continue to receive health care coverage for five years following the loss of a job.
  • Ensures laid-off coal workers continue to receive expected employer contributions to retirement funds or pensions for five years, to ensure that they can retire with dignity; and
  • Establishes a program akin to the post-9/11 G.I. Bill that would provide flexible educational benefits to the affected workers as well as their children.

… And coal communities

The bill specifically:

  • Provides temporary replacement of lost tax revenue for local and tribal governments facing a closure of a major facility;
  • Invests in reclamation of abandoned mines and facilitates the remediation of coal ash ponds — because cleanup of legacy pollution not only creates local jobs but sets up the community to diversify its economy and grow new businesses;
  • Increases funding to federal agencies and programs that support community economic development, including the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration; and
  • Invests $30 million per year for ten years in rural broadband — a critical enabling infrastructure investment for economic development.

The time for bold action has come

We often talk about the need for bold action on climate change. But here’s the thing — the pain of shifting to a clean energy economy should not fall entirely on the people and communities that rely on coal. Through no fault of their own, the energy landscape has shifted, and they deserve a fighting chance to thrive. This bill would offer coal workers that chance — and lawmakers must include robust, well-funded provisions like these as they work to tackle climate change, whatever ultimate policies are enacted to drive down heat-trapping emissions.


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Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2021/06/20/the-save-our-future-act-offers-blueprint-for-supporting-coal-workers-communities/

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