Friday 28th October 2016                 Change text size:

20 questions with… Karl Harder

Photo: Karl Harder

Karl Harder answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Karl Harder, the co-founder and operations director at renewable energy crowdfunding platform Abundance Generation, will be joining the Sustainable September energy debate on September 16 as part of Blue & Green Tomorrow’s month-long sustainability event.

He will debate, along with Jeremy Leggett, against the motion, “Gas and nuclear power are more cost-effective in reducing carbon emissions in the short-term than renewable energy”. Tickets for the event are available here.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

Democratise the financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Every person in the country is paying the cost of our transition to a low carbon world, we therefore believe that everyone should also have the opportunity to share in the financial benefits.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An adventurer or explorer, I have always kind of regretted living in the 21 century where all the new worlds and people on earth have been discovered and at a time when it’s technically impossible to truly explore space!

How would your friends describe you?

Ummm ??

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

Reading Natural Capitalism by Amory Lovins, up to that point I had been involved in the green movement but believed the only the way forward was by regressing  – going back to a much simpler way of living.  Though I still believe in simplicity, natural capitalism opened my mind to the possibility that by going forward and developing technologies and new clever ways of thinking we could live in balance with the earth.

Who or what inspires you?

It is an anecdote from Natural Capitalism funnily enough.   The books illustrates its thesis with the description of the spiders web, possibly the strongest material known to man but one which is produced at 37C in a spiders body from processed fly, but also a material that when it has reached the end of its useful life it biodegrades.  Titanium is perhaps an equivalent in human terms and it is produced in ways that are hugely destructive to the planet. If we can redesign our energy and production systems based on insights from nature we have a very real chance of living sustainably.

What really grinds your gears?

The fact I am still cycling around London on a daily basis breathing in highly noxious fumes from vans, lorries and buses.

Describe your perfect day.

Taking my children out climbing, they love it, I love it. We all have fun… perfect!   The day is made a little sweeter if I come home and find that the new money invested via Abundance is up at sustainable levels.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

Currently a very noisy building site at the rear and a quiet terraced street from the front.

What do you like spending your money on?

Food, drink and socialising as well taking the children on adventures.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?


What’s your favourite book?

I have not had a lot of time to read recently! So I suppose for consistency I will go for Natural Capitalism.

What’s your favourite film?

Frozen… I have a four-year-old daughter!

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Introduce a whopping great big carbon tax and use all the proceeds to roll out a massive state funded energy efficiency programme targeting lowest income households first.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Tony Abbot, the carbon tax cutting, Australian prime minister… just so I can keep him out of trouble.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

Best is it can often be better to make an ok decision quickly rather than brilliant decision over a long period of time.

Worst is taking physics at A-level… Horrendous…!

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Enjoying running Abundance, but not having to work all hours.

What’s your biggest regret?

I do not really have any regrets, there is always a silver lining

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

It is boring but it is the simple things that have the most impact, improving the efficiency of the home, cutting flying, but also perhaps ensuring your money is supporting the building of the new clean economy for instance why not move your money from funds or investments supporting fossil fuel companies and instead investing via!

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

A legally binding global commitment to limit the world to emitting only 550 giggatonnes more of carbon – that will take us pretty much up to a 2C rise in global temperatures.  A limit we may just be able to manage.

What’s your favourite quote?

No idea!

Further reading:

Abundance Generation’s Karl Harder on being part of the bigger conversation

Leggett, Harder and Powell confirmed for Sustainable September energy debate

Tickets on sale for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable September events

20 questions with… Mark Powell

20 questions with… Jeremy Leggett

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