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Last couple of times I posted, I seemed to see a boost in funding for these Green loans I am highlighting. But now I am seeing more loans about to expire without full funding and I am hoping another posting will give them the boost they need. These diaries aren't getting many comments, but they are shared and tweeted a lot and I am betting that is what is helping these loans get funded. So...once more into the breach!

Soon I hope to switch to another Global Green Solution akin to the Propane Project. But for now I didn't want to compete with that and so have focused on Green projects in Mongolia.

For too long the right wing has tried to convince us that it is either/or: EITHER people's lives are improved OR we help the environment and reduce greenhouse emissions. But this is a false conflict. There are MANY ways we can both improve the lives of poor and middle class families while ALSO helping the environment and reducing greenhouse emissions. In fact I would argue that in many ways you can't do one without the other if you really want to succeed.

Let's start with Mongolia.

Most of my knowledge of Mongolia goes back to the time of Genghis Khan and his successors, and includes the knowledge that an amazing number of people alive today (as much as 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million people) very likely are descendants of Temujin himself through his many wives and children.

I have always wanted to travel to Mongolia. I never have, but a conversation about this urge DID lead to a trip to Moscow where I stayed at a friend's apartment. That was a trip I expanded into a major search for my ancestry, leading to both my family accidentally winding up in Russia illegally (despite our best efforts) and to my starting a project to save the last surviving synagogue in a town in Latvia. But so far I haven't made it to Mongolia.

I know little of modern Mongolia. So it was with considerable surprise that I learned that recent rapid development in Mongolia has led to a real growth in GDP, but also to a great deal of environmental problems. Currently one of the worst polluted cities on earth is Ulaanbaatar. The pollution is so bad that about 1 in 10 deaths in that city can be attributable to air pollution. Burning of coal in poorly insulated homes with old, inefficient furnaces is one major problem that leads to deaths every year from pollution. Widespread use of old, fuel efficient cars is another.

I like simple and effective solutions to problems like this. These problems in Ulaanbaatar are killing residents of that city. In addition, the same things that contribute to these deaths also contribute greenhouse gasses, affecting the entire world. Mongolia is developing. For decades developing nations have almost been forced to repeat the mistakes of the past, poisoning their own citizens and following down wasteful, fossil fuel dependent paths that were pioneered by the West in the 19th century. Simply telling them not to do what we did is arrogant and is perceived as keeping them from developing. To me the obvious thing is to help them develop solutions that mitigate or avoid the mistakes made by the West from the 19th century to the present.

Kiva.org has a long history with Daily Kos. In fact Daily Kos was one of the main ways word got out about Kiva and when some articles were written by Kossacks, Kiva.org took off rapidly and has been a success ever since. Kiva.org hooks up people like you and me with small businesses and individuals around the world who need credit and works out a microloan. Dozens or hundreds of individuals loan as little as $25 to a single business or individual and the aggregate tiny loans add up to a significant loan at far below bank interest rates. The default rate of loans through Kiva is also much lower than traditional bank loans. I have been lending for many years and by relending to another business or individual each time I am repaid I have helped hundreds of people all over the world. Many Kossacks are lenders.

Recently I found that if you click on "Green loans" at Kiva.org, by far the majority of green loans are in Mongolia and they are aiming to address the issues I started this diary pointing out. The sad thing is that over and over I see these loans fail to raise adequate money to be filled and they fail to get funded. These loans are doing some great things both for the people of Mongolia but for the environment as well. I would like to see more of these get funded. More below.

The green loans in Mongolia are being made through Kiva's partner Credit Mongol. Not all their loans are green, but their efforts seem to be heavily geared towards the three following kinds of green loans:

1. Providing loans for upgrading homes to better insulate them and make their heating systems more efficient. Mongolia is a COLD place, mind you...in fact Ulaanbaatar is considered the world's coldest capital city with an average annual temp around 0 degrees C! Insulation is a must both for survival AND reducing greenhouse emissions.

2. Providing loans for people to buy or rent hybrid or natural gas powered cars to replace old, communist era cars that are inefficient and highly pollutiong,

3. Providing loans for more rural, nomadic families to buy solar panels to power their homes (which often are "gers" (note: I have been told "yurt" is not the correct term...), which are basically large felt tents carried on carts from place to place). Without solar power gers have no energy and the only way to heat them or to cook in them is by burning wood, charcoal, coal or dung, all of which cause pollution and lung problems for families.

Together these three efforts help families survive, save money over current practices, and be less polluting in a country that is becoming one of the most polluted in the world as it develops. These efforts helps to mitigate and to some degree avoid the worst problems the West made as it developed in the 19th century. They are smart and practical ideas that don't even need your donations...just a loan.

Other green loans in Mongolia at Kiva are through XacBank. Here's some info on XacBank from Kiva:

According to a recent study by the World Health Organization, Mongolia is the most polluted country on earth, registering particulates at 14 times the WHO’s standard threat level. Accordingly, Kiva and XacBank have joined forces to offer green loans that finance environmentally-friendly businesses and activities, including organic farming, solar panel purchases, and energy-efficient home renovations.

Some of these green loans are administered by XacBank’s new Eco-banking Department. So far, this division has helped distribute over 60,000 energy-efficient stoves, over 17,000 insulated ger coverings for traditional felt homes, and over 4,000 insulated vestibules that lock in heat and expand the usable space inside these homes.

More than 107,000 families in the five districts surrounding the nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, have benefited from this initiative. Together, these environmentally-minded products are estimated to slash coal consumption by 157,000 tons and save households about $2.6 million in heating costs in 2012 alone.

XacBank’s work is also estimated to reduce emissions of particulate matter from household stoves by up to 25% in 2012, preventing 450,000 tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

The bank is working with financial partners to receive accreditation for these greenhouse gas reductions. Under the Kyoto Protocol, this would allow the bank to generate income by selling carbon dioxide offsets on international markets. It plans to reinvest these profits in its clean energy program to expand access to environmentally-friendly products for low-income and marginalized communities.

Again you can help with these efforts not by donating, but by making a small loan through Kiva's green loan program. And again I want to emphasize that these green loans in Mongolia often do not get successfully funded. I know of at least four I wanted to loan to that got refunded to me because the loan was not filled. Some of these loans are being backfilled, which means the money has already been lent by Credit Mongol or XacBank, but all that means is that if the loan isn't filled by Kiva, it limits the ability of these agencies to fund further loans.

Clicking here you can go to the Green Loans on Kiva.org. Here's one about to expire:

Batzorig is 25 years old and lives with his wife and a three year-old child in his parent’s house in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. His parent’s house locates in a boundary area of the city with no running water, minimal roads, and spotty electricity. Batzorig has been renting a cell phone repair counter and sells phone spare parts in the downtown area of the city for 7 years. Every six months, he goes to China’s nearest border to buy phone spare parts.

His wife is a student, but this year she is not studying because she is pregnant and will give birth in November. As he and his wife are expecting a baby, Batzorig has been building a new house on the land of his parents for his family and the house is 80% complete. The loan Batzorig is taking will be used to buy radiators and insulate the roof, floor, and walls with energy saving materials in order to stop the heat loss. If his new house will be warmer, less energy will be burnt. By doing this he and his family will improve their living condition and can cut the usage of coal to warm his house.

This loan helps a family stay warm in the coldest capital city on earth AND reduces coal usage and pollution. Energy efficiency is often the cheapest and most effective way to reduce a carbon footprint but isn't always as sexy as other methods. But this is a way to use energy efficiency to benefit a family in a developing nation while also reducing carbon emissions. This is just one example of the loans you can find under Green loans on Kiva.org.

Currently as I write this all green loans at Kiva.org are in Mongolia. That is not always the case. I have seen organic farming loans being made in places like Mexico and Peru, for example. But the largest and most coordinated Green effort at Kiva are these loans in Mongolia to reduce pollution and greenhouse emissions while saving families and small business owners in Mongolia money.

Please help out. You can start with only a loan of $25 and go on up from there. My son has started participating as well (though he looks for loans with the shortest pay back period so he can quickly lend to someone else). Click here to get started making green loans through Kiva.org:

http://www.kiva.org/...

This is how we change the world...not all at once, but through many small efforts like this, one human to another.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your last diary prompted me to check out (5+ / 0-)

    the Mongolia loans, since I had just received a payback.  I eventually went with a woman who does organic gardening in the Pacific Islands, but I was intrigued about supporting a Mongolian woman in the future :)

    Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 08:04:26 AM PST

  •  Mongolia and Kiva are both awesome (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, MBNYC, DawnN

    from what I've seen (haven't been there either, but it's a fascination). Most of the Kiva loans seem Green. I have heard enough about them to easily back them and let others know that they do really good things for developing nations and sustainability.

    "Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom" - Walter Benjamin

    by mahakali overdrive on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:04:29 AM PST

    •  Yep (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, DawnN

      I often have a hard time figuring out where to put my loan money. So many good loans! Usually loans seem to get funded, but I have the feeling that the Mongolia Green loans sometimes come all at the same time so some get left behind. It is demoralizing picking a loan as being so perfect and seeing it not get funded. I have only had this experience with the Mongolian Green loans and I think it is because they come up mostly all at once and all are very similar so they run out of people to fund them too fast.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:17:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, mahakali overdrive

    1.  For highlighting overall issue ...
    2. Because I'm a Kiva member (and have been for years) and have been frustrated how few 'green' options exist -- thus, I have a little bit of money that I'm deploying now.
    3. Striking that, w/its global presence, the only 'green' loan options on Kiva are all in Mongolia.
    4. While the 'replacement of old' cars is a helpful nudge, not sure that these are all replacements. E.g., have to wonder at 'green' aspect of many of the requested loans.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:25:19 AM PST

    •  For example ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333

      there is a loan request for someone to buy a used car because they built/bought a house far away from their kids' school and their work. They want a car so that they don't have to take public transport any more.  I do not consider loans that foster horizontal spread "green".

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:27:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and no (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        I think the green loan is better than what they would do otherwise, which is probably buy a gas guzzling, old, used car that is extra polluting. However this isn't the kind of loan I tend to fund myself. So I see your point.

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:41:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Point is ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mole333

          in this case, it was someone who used to live walking distance to work and school.  They bought a home that is two bus rides away from work and school. Now they want a "green" loan to buy a used car (no efficiency statement against it) because the public transit takes too long.  Okay, there might be an economic case for this but substituting a car for transit isn't green and, well, this loan encourages/rewards sprawl.  

          The house efficiency items and, for example, the 'organic food' production items fall more reasonably in "green".  Thus, frustrated that (a) there isn't a tighter definition of "green" that has some meaning and (b) there aren't "green" Kiva portfolio items around the world.  By the way, I didn't see any renewable energy loan requests.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 12:05:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

            Kiva is not primarily a Green organization. This is the second time they have tried including Green as a criterion for their loans. They had to drop it the last time for reasons I am not clear on. I just noticed they had green loans then stopped.

            This time they seem to be more careful but I agree it isn't always perfect. The loan you mention wouldn't be top of my personal list...but then again it may still be good compared to the alternatives. Kiva has a small number of staff who are probably overwhelmed, so I don't want to add to their load by complaining about something that may be valid from my point of view but may still be worth funding from other points of view. So I move on from loans like you picked up on and go to ones that seem clear to me...and there are enough that don't get funded that I think should that I hope skeptics like you keep clicking on the green loans and finding the best ones.

            FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

            by mole333 on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:15:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, DawnN

      I actually personally put my money (literally) in the loans that include insulation and other efficiency upgrades to home heating. I have yet to do a car loan. But I am guessing the car loans aren't too bad either.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 09:28:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this post (0+ / 0-)

    I have lived in Mongolia for many years of my life, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer and as a private English teacher.

    The pollution in Ulaanbaatar is definitely no joke. During the winter if you go outside even for five minutes you need to immediately shower afterwards. The coal smoke is so bad that it clings to ever spare hair on your head and wrinkle in your clothing.

    This is only during the winter months, however. The other 7 months of the year are absolutely beautiful. One day I would like to move back to Mongolia and live in the Western area near Arkhangai. The countryside suffers much less pollution than the city and is absolutely beautiful. Even during the winter the countryside suffers less in terms of pollution than the city because the overall population of Outer Mongolia is less than that of Houston, Texas and the country is larger than India. It is a very EMPTY country once you leave the city... but what little villages and cities you do find are full of the greatest people you'll meet in your life :-)

    Unless they're Nazis. Mongolia, like Russia, has a Nazi problem. But the other 99% of Mongolians are awesome!

  •  Basically, in short (0+ / 0-)

    Yes please, donate a small amount in green loans to Mongolians. Mongolia in general is a great country. It's a democracy with an elected Parliament. It has much greater freedom of press and speech than its neighbors: Russia and China.

    There are problems, of course. Government corruption is rampant, there is a problem with a youth-oriented National-Socialist party and violent crime has been spiking in Ulaanbaatar during the last few years. China has also been treating Mongolia like its own personal sandbox, digging and strip-mining everywhere without regard for country's magnificent landscape or environment.

    Also, like this article stated, there is pollution. Bad, bad pollution. Plus there is a water problem. All the water tables in Mongolia have been drained and there are now measures to drain one of the most beautiful places on the entire Asian continent: Lake Khovsgol in Western Mongolia.

    But if you ever travel to Mongolia (and in my opinion it's a much more fun place than China, where all American tourists in Asia tend to congregate) you will probably have the time of your life! Everybody is fun, friendly and massively adventurous :-)

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