Per Capita Davis: Marching forward on the climate crisis
As noted in the prior column, March is Burger Battle Month in Davis. Go to coolcuisine.net for burger descriptions, locations of participating restaurants, how to win prizes, how to vote for the burgers you like best and websites where you can learn about “Meatless Mondays.” The Burger Battle ends March 31, so we have plenty of time to sample the 15 or so different burgers.
I started my tour on Sunday. After each tasting, you can vote by rating what you tasted on a five-point scale of 1 for “OK” to 5 for “Awesome” for taste, presentation, texture, unique flavor, juiciness and similarity to real meat. Votes will be tallied at the end of the month.
On March 5, the city council will consider and most likely vote on the “City of Davis Climate Emergency Resolution.” I realize that this heads-up is possibly after-the-fact or at best just a couple hours before the council meeting on the 5th for those who read this column in the print version of the paper — but this is very much worth paying attention to.
There’s a growing movement to light a fire under governments of all levels, from cities to countries. So far, nine other cities in California have adopted resolutions, including Oakland, Hayward, Richmond, Berkeley, both Santa Cruz city and county and Los Angeles.
Each jurisdiction, including ours, writes their own resolution to reflect local interests and concerns. This column has frequently argued that the climate crisis deserves a response commensurate with the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II, or the effort to land on the moon, and that is the basic message of this effort: bring a “truth-based” response to this emergency.
If you can’t get to the city council meeting on Wednesday, you can find out more about this international movement to build a sense of urgency to the climate crisis at TheClimateMobilization.org.
On Saturday, March 16, from 1 to 4 p.m., the seventh annual Interfaith Climate Conference will be held at the United Methodist Church of Davis, 1620 Anderson Road. The theme this year is “Cooler Together: Shared Visions for Action.” In addition to speakers who really have something to say, there will be an emphasis on practical information for individuals who want to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with local groups such as Cool Davis, Valley Clean Energy, the Davis Electric Vehicle Association, Indigo Designs, Repower Yolo Solar, and Green Faith on site to answer questions and provide information.
On Monday, March 18, beginning at 9 a.m., the board of directors of CalPERS (California Public Employees Retirement System) is meeting to evaluate how it invests its funds. CalPERS is the largest pension plan fund in the United States and one of the largest in the world. CalSTRS (California State Teachers Retirement System) is right behind.
According to Fossil Free California, an organization working to convince these large pension funds to take their money out of the stocks of fossil fuel companies, approximately 6 percent of CalPERS’ hundreds of billions of dollars are invested in the top 100 fossil fuel companies. The argument for divestment is partly that these funds should be used instead to promote renewables such as solar and wind because the transition from fossil fuels to renewables is critical for the future.
But, they argue, divestment also makes good economic sense. Fossil Free indicates that in 2018 and 2019 investments in the energy sector produced either the lowest or the next to lowest returns on the S&P 500. Fossil Free indicates that investment portfolios with renewable energy “are outperforming those with fossil fuels.”
They cite as an example, based on a report from Trillium/Mass Divest, that had the state of Massachusetts’ “pension fund’s $1.6 billion in fossil fuel stocks instead been invested in a fossil-free index, its assets would have grown by approximately 57.7 percent or $1 billion from 2012 to 2017 instead of suffering losses.”
Should you be interested in attending, the meeting will take place at the CalPERS Auditorium, 400 Q St. in Sacramento.
This item is not date-specific to March, but some interesting information and statistics have emerged from the operation of Valley Clean Energy since it took over the buying of electricity and setting the rates for electricity from PG&E for residents of Davis, Woodland and unincorporated Yolo County. Benefits of having VCE are local control and the current governing board consists of two persons each from Woodland, Davis and Yolo County.
In furtherance of making all decisions transparent to us ratepayers, the board created a Community Advisory Committee. These meetings are open to the public.
I recently attended one and was struck by the incredible level of expertise and professionalism of this body, and learned, among other things, that 107 households had thus far “opted up” from the basic rate to the “Ultra Green” rate for electricity produced from 100-percent carbon-free sources, and that 77 percent of these were residents of Davis.
— John Mott-Smith is a resident of Davis. This column appears in the print version of the Enterprise the first and third Wednesday of each month. Please send comments to email@example.com.
Crossposted from the Davis Enterprise
Published online November 7, 2018
Cool Davis is a coalition of citizens, the City of Davis, and community organizations working to empower our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.