Weekly Roundup: CA’s Cap-And-Trade, Occupy Oakland’s Street Battles, And Mitigating Student Debt
Every week, we provide a roundup of the latest news in social change and innovation.
White House Unveils Less Burdensome Student Loan Program
On Tuesday, the White House announced some new ways that they hope to ease the burden of student debt. The main component is a “Pay As You Earn” program that substantially reduces the monthly repayment amount on a loan for people who are earning less than they need to or should be. There are also new incentives for consolidating loans. The White House released a good fact sheet about the programs, and the New York Times’ Ron Lieber helpfully responded to readers’ questions about the program in very simple terms.
Business Week pointed out that easing student debt burdens is crucial for fostering entrepreneurship among bright youth who don’t have money set aside. They listed, as supporting examples of this idea, a recent announcement that the nonprofit membership group Young Entrepreneur Council is unveiling a $10 million “Gen Y Fund” that will invest up to $250,000 in startups. Additionally, the fund will cover founders’ federal student loan payments for up to three years. And, Business Week noted, college can even be detrimental to would-be entrepreneurs; reminding readers that venture capitalist Peter Thiel is going so far as to pay promising youth to drop out of college and pursue their business dreams.
California Leads The Way With Cap-And-Trade Program
California officially adopted a cap-and-trade program this week – the first in the nation – and it’s set to begin in 2013. An explainer on the California Climate Change Portal outlines how it will work: first, the program sets a maximum limit on carbon emissions. Sources of emissions then receive authorizations to emit a certain allowed amount within the cap. Each source is responsible for designing its own compliance strategy to meet the requirements. If a company doesn’t use all of its credits, it can sell them off. On the flip side, if a company knows that it will emit more than its allowed carbon amount, it can buy credits or carbon offsets.
The new rules are making some businesses in California nervous, according to FastCompany’s Ariel Schwartz:
“Big polluters are, of course, concerned about the effect of the regulations. In a meeting last week, O’Connor observed many of the state’s biggest petroleum refineries complaining about cap and trade. But, says, O’Connor, “This creates an incentive to find emissions reduction opportunities.” And in any case, CARB has built-in transition assistance for major polluters (in the form of carbon credits).”
But both FastCompany and California’s Daily Breeze pointed out that the program could led to economic growth. The Breeze reported that California Governor Jerry Brown and the Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols have said that the new rules could give the state a boost as new technologies are developed to reduce pollution, ultimately, they hope making the companies that limit emissions more profitable because they can then sell off any rights they have to produce their previous levels of emissions.
FastCompany wrote that the cap-and-trade program, if successful, may inspire other states to follow suite. And National Geographic reported that the cap-and-trade market could become a large part of California’s economy. It’s anticipated to grow to a $10 billion market by 2016.
Occupy Wall Street Deals With Violence And Difficulty
Tensions are running high in activist communities and city boards alike across the nation, as the Occupy Wall Street movement and its sister occupations have begun encountering roadblocks. The Chicago movement has had trouble finding a place they can stay in peacefully, and the Oakland movement had a serious altercation with police on Tuesday night involving tear gas, which led to at least 100 arrests and one protester with a critical injury to the head from a rubber bullet.
On Wednesday night, protesters in New York City and around the country marched in support with Oakland, and they also decided in their General Assembly meeting to send money for bail and tents for camping to the jailed occupiers. The New York Times reported on Tuesday’s events in Oakland while pointing out that city mayors were frustrated by the sometimes unruly occupiers and unsure of how to deal with them. Protesters in Oakland are regrouping, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Worthwhile Weekend Reads
- Beth Kanter has a great blog post on networks and social movements, with take-aways from attending GEO’s Growing Social Impact in a Networked World conference.
- Ethical Markets’ Rosalinda Sanquiche shared some lessons about public relations & sustainability from a panel at the Public Relations Society of America’s conference this month.
- The Forbes Corporate Social Responsibility blog took up Occupy Wall Street as an example of the need for CSR.
- Yoxi.tv’s John C. Havens wrote on Mashable about the importance of corporate social responsibility, wishing that a day would come when individuals take it upon themselves to practice ethical business.
- Co-founder of IDEO David Kelley shared some gems about succeeding in the design profession and using design for social change with the San Francisco Gate.
- The Guardian reported that the UN population chief is saying that a focus on HIV/AIDS, apart from reproductive health instead of as one aspect of it, by the international medical community, has had repercussions for family planning advocacy efforts.