My name is Eric Pasi, and I’m a climate entrepreneur, activist, and artist.
A lot of people talk about the importance of climate action for future generations — setting aside the daily devastation many feel in the present. It’s because most people understand linear relationships. What we do today directly affects tomorrow, just like what we did yesterday affected today. Point A, Point B. But most don’t think about how our actions today can affect the past.
I heard my call to climate action in college. Like a lot of people, I was angry. My father was an immigrant from Tonga, a low-lying island nation in the South Pacific. Similar to other places around the world, Polynesia is at the front lines of this crisis; a crisis not of their choosing but one that now laps at their shores.
My parents split when I was young, and I didn’t grow up with my dad or the Polynesian side of my family. But I got to know them better later in life. In 2014 I had the chance to visit Tonga, a beautifully serene and untouched place. Just rough sand, the essentialism of nature, and good people. I met the familiar smiles of cousins, aunts, and uncles, most for the first time in my life. They showed me the ancient ruins of Haʻamonga ʻa Maui, a sacred structure sometimes called the “Stonehenge of the Pacific.”
Mostly, Tonga reminded me that Polynesian people have culture; a culture that has evolved and spread like waves across the Pacific.
They faced down the ocean’s abyss in search of a better life. They were expert navigators with extremely complex familial and social hierarchies. They were musicians, dancers, and storytellers. Polynesians didn’t wait for the future to happen, they created it.
Like them, I can’t sit still. After college, I jumped into solar energy. Starting with homeowners and working on an installation crew, I transitioned to working with schools. There, I created STEM curricula for students to learn about how energy affects their everyday lives. We helped businesses save money. Eventually, we created community solar markets to help people who couldn’t install panels on their own roof access clean energy. It’s been a wild ride that culminated in the acquisition of my company earlier this year.
In 2020, I authored a book called CleanWave: A Guide to Success in the Green Recovery to provide insight into the past, present, and future of cleantech, with actionable advice for career-seekers. It was one way to pay forward the opportunity afforded to me for the next generation of leaders.
Next year, I’ll release a Polynesian surf rock album under the name Palms Psalm – protesting climate-fueled annihilation. I remixed recordings of ancient Tongan canoe chants, handed down personally by my father prior to his death in 2015.
We always cite our future as “the thing worth fighting for,” but what about our forefathers and mothers?
It may be an unpopular opinion, but shouldn’t we have the same or more reverence for them? Ignoring the past disrespects their memories; most of their sacrifices and heroics are lost in the sand. In a way, our actions today and tomorrow can help preserve their spirit, saving the past. We need to keep paddling.
First-generation Tongan-American, entrepreneur, musician, and activist with a focus on climate justice, especially for at-risk island nations. Clean energy is my passion, with over 15 years of experience in US-based solar and community solar. In April 2022 I sold my company, IPS Solar, to a public utility and have committed to growing horizons for other climate activists.
In late 2020 I authored a book titled CleanWave: A Guide to Success in the Green Recovery, which outlines the past, present and future of US cleantech with actionable advice for career seekers.
Recently I also finished a concept album under the artist name Palms Psalm, remixing old Polynesian music handed down by my late father, and infusing it with surf rock. At its core, this is a protest album focusing on climate inequities with a planned release date in early 2023.
Eric is one of Climate Generation’s Window Into COP delegates for COP27. To learn more, we encourage you to meet the full delegation and subscribe to the Window Into COP digest. You can support our delegates at COP27 with a financial gift today!