People for Climate Action

Cities Climate Action Summit:
We can do this!

People for Climate Action’s “Cities Climate Action Summit: We can do this!” was held on November 17th in Kirkland.

PCA is delighted that so many enthusiastic climate concerned members of our communities joined in the discussion on local climate action opportunities. We look forward to your engagement in our future efforts. Thank you!

Jan Keller speaks at the summit

Summit Slide Deck

The slide deck used during our Summit is available from the PCA Resources page.

A Few Useful Links

Climate Action Plans

If you want links to climate action plans from other cities, or to other organizations in the field of climate action planning, please let us know, or contact members of your local PCA group.

Top Eight Things You Can Do About Climate Change Right Now

Reposted from Valerie Tarico.com

climate-warriors- Marshall IslandsWhile California was approaching tinderbox conditions that erupted into catastrophic fires, an oil industry coalition led by British Petroleum was spending $30 million to persuade Washington State voters that dirty fuel producers shouldn’t have to pay a dump fee on the carbon they dump into our air. As if turning our atmosphere into a carbon dump didn’t have real costs.

If that makes you angry, if you believe that obstructing climate solutions is immoral, or if you simply feel worried by slow progress on policy and technology fixes, here are eight things you can do that add up to a meaningful difference. Some will be familiar, but others may surprise you.

  1. Partially boycott the pushers. We all are mainlining stuff that we buy from the most casually murderous drug cartel on the planet, and we’re hooked. But despite being addicts, we are not entirely helpless. Each of us has it within our power to some degree to cut back. Walk or take transit when it fits. Use Lyft line instead of Lyft. Invest in an e-bike that you can ride to nearby events on sunny days. Work from home once in a while. Master the art of video conferencing. Get creative about a near-to-home vacation.Even small fluctuations in consumption put the squeeze on Big Oil by dropping their stock price and profits. Oil lords are messing with our future; mess with theirs. (An added bonus: You’ll be giving the Saudis the finger.)
  1. Buy time. Clean energy is coming, and the trend lines are accelerating. That’s one reason corporations with in-the-ground holdings are desperate to extract and sell the stuff to us before they end up with the financial equivalent of hot potatoes: stranded assets.Whenever we delay pipes being completed, terminals being permitted, or urban routes being approved for coal and bomb trains, odds increase that coal or oil or methane will stay in the ground permanently. Slower climate change also means more time for people and other animals to adapt. Become part of the friction.
  1. Get someone to divest. You may not have much in the way of savings but someone you know does. Where do you (or your kids or grandkids) go to school and how do they invest working capital or their endowment? How about your alma maters? Who do you work for? Where are your retirement funds going? Who leads your union? Where does your church keep their reserves? How about the nonprofits you support? Have your friends and family members heard of impact investing?When individuals and institutions divest from corporations or industry sectors that are bad actors, it reduces capital in these sectors and makes it harder to borrow money for big projects that can have a long harmful lifespan. It also makes other investors—who may care about nothing but profit—more wary about risk. So, the effects can cascade. 350.org can connect you with a divestment group on your campus or in your community.
  1. Eat smarter. Conservatively, fourteen to eighteen percent of climate change is driven by animal agriculture, with cattle being the worst offenders. Cows fart even more than dads and dogs, and a billion-and-a-half cows farting in unison adds up to a planetary problem. But the methane they produce isn’t the whole story, which includes deforestation for feed, fuel used in livestock transport, slaughter and processing, and more. Rotational grazing of cattle or mixed species can improve soil health, but one clear, direct path toward climate stability is less meat consumption.Another simple way to reduce your food footprint is to waste less. The USDA says that in 2010 Americans wasted 133 billion pounds of food worth $161 billion dollars. You can help by buying ugly fruit, eating local vegetables in season, shrinking per-person food orders to caterers, ordering smaller portions in restaurants, checking the fridge before you shop, and getting creative with leftovers.

    Cellular biologists are scrambling to figure out how we can meet humanity’s growing demand for protein with lab-grown (aka clean or cultured) meat and milk, and alternative plant-based protein options are just taking off. In the last two years big players like Cargill Industries, Tyson, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and the Canadian government have made investments in protein start-ups. As a consumer, you can accelerate this transition by putting your money where your mouth is. Demand drives innovation. It may take some experimenting to figure out which options you find tasty and satisfying—Beyond Meat? Impossible Burgers? Field Roast? Just Mayo? Chocolate Almond Silk? Once you figure out what’s yummy to you, feed it to your guests as well. Future generations and other species will thank you.

  1. Rethink support for no-kill shelters. This may be a tough one, but bear with me. Companion animals bring happiness into millions of lives, and some people choose a dog or cat when they can’t afford or don’t want another child. That adds up to a lot of goodness. But the planetary cost of our devotion to feline and canine predators is substantial. If American dogs and cats made up their own country, they would come in fifth in global meat consumption. That adds up to 64 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as much as 13.6 million cars.We may determine that the benefits outweigh the costs for many companion animals—I myself believe so—but our sympathy for dogs and cats has created a system that pushes people to adopt them regardless of the cost-benefit. It also has created a plague of feral cats—70 million in the U.S. alone—that are decimating songbird populations. If love of furry critters is top-of-the-heart for you, consider this: We raise animals in factory farms under nightmare conditions to feed these pets and former pets—pigs and chickens in cages so small they can’t turn around; cows shut away from sunlight and grass. The land and water resources required to raise feed for animals that become pet food also means that fewer wild animals are able to feed their own young—who are starving and burning to death from climate impacts.
  1. Sweat a little. Or roll up your sleeves. As summers get hotter it becomes more and more tempting to buy an air conditioner, even if you live in a place where people traditionally have kept cool in other ways like using fans, swamp coolers, misters, swimming holes, or cellars. Resist the temptation! According to drawdown.org, the refrigerants in most air conditioners have 1000 to 9000 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. And because they are most likely to leak as they age or at the time of disposal, they are problems in the making. We saved the ozone layer in the 1990s by turning to something that, from a climate standpoint, is even worse, HFCs.If you can hold out, a global treaty signed in 2016 has phase-out of HFCs beginning in 2019. Climate-friendlier options will be available. In the meantime, if your fridge needs replacing, look for one with an alternative refrigerant like ammonium or propane. To stay cool, do what your parents and grandparents did. Get a fan. Take a swim. Sleep downstairs on the hottest days. And persuade your office mates that long sleeves in the summer are fashion nonsense.
  1. Accelerate the contraceptive revolution. Human population is a straight-up multiplier in the carbon equation, but population growth is driven entirely by unintended—and often unwanted—pregnancy. State-of-the-art contraceptive technologies for women (IUDs and implants) take human error out of the equation and drive accidental pregnancy to near zero. So, this part of the problem is super solvable. But as of today, options for guys still suck. Consider: The implant has a 1-in-1000 annual pregnancy rate; for couples relying on condoms that’s 1 in 8. If you think that’s not fair, speak up about it. Demand better, and think about donating to male contraceptive development through the Population Council or Male Contraceptive Initiative.In the meantime, while we’re all depending on female-controlled methods, if you yourself have a top tier IUD or implant that you love, evangelize it to your friends. And work to make sure that less privileged women have access to the very same excellent options that you have. Thanks to advocacy by Melinda Gates, a hormonal IUD for a poor woman in a developing country costs less than $10. Planned Parenthood International can get a copper IUD to her for less than a dollar. These contraceptives have bonus health benefits and bonus economic benefits. Being able to time or limit childbearing also helps families survive climate impacts like famine and conflict.
  1. Reform democracy. Societies are most able to create a better future when the private, public, and philanthropic sectors all pull in the same direction, each doing what they do best. Better climate policies could accelerate solutions. But we all know that some electeds are more loyal to lobbyists from dinosaur industries than to we-the-people. Some couldn’t care less about climate impacts on future generations, the ultra-poor in the global south, or other species—none of whom make campaign contributions.Replacing electeds who have been bought by oil companies with representatives who act on climate is going to require that we first focus on fixing our democracy—replacing antiquated and corrupted electoral systems with modern ones that more accurately reflect the public will. Educate yourself and your friends about wonky topics like gerrymandering reform, automatic voter registration, proportional representation, multi-member districts, and ranked choice voting.

Progress on climate is being stalled by people who place short-term self interest over the common good—corporate leaders and investors willing to maximize profits even when those profits are taken from vulnerable people and future generations. But progress also stalls out when those of us who care get overwhelmed and so don’t exercise the power we have. As individuals, we can’t fix climate change, but we can slow it and shrink it, both of which matter. You or I may never know how our actions shape the future and touch other lives, but we can know that in aggregate they do.

Fireplaces burning in the summer when it’s 90 degrees!

Yesterday in downtown Bellevue, I attended the Bellevue Arts Festival and popped into Lincoln Square South and other stores to cool off. I looked into the classy Hotel W and saw that they were running gas-powered fireplaces:

This is despite the fact that it was about 90 degrees outside.

I see other buildings in downtown Bellevue doing the same thing.

I suppose they do it for the mood. But what a waste!

Choose your battles wisely

I saw a facebook post that was encouraging overturning of I-200 (the voter-approved initiative which prohibits affirmative action and similar racial preferences). I support over-turning I-200 but that’s not my highest priority. My highest priorities are economic inequality and environmental justice.

As I commented on the post, many people think the bill is of mixed benefit, all things considered. Specifically, overturning I-200 risks alienating some voters who progressives need on other issues. I know a Chinese lady who voted for Trump because, she said, her son was at a disadvantage getting into an Ivy League school because of affirmative action. I don’t think she is a racist.

Do we fight about identity politics? Or do we fight about economic and environmental justice? Or both?

Our resources and political capital are limited. So, yes, I support overturning I-200. Given a choice between spending political capital on that bill and spending it on other issues, what’s the best choice?

We have legalized marijuana and gay marriage — which are good to have. But Washington State have the most regressive tax system in the nation, and I want our legislators to tackle that issue, which is a foundation for so much more that we want: education, public transit, an adequate social safety net, housing, environmental stewardship, and guaranteed health care for all.

I’m pro-life: in favor of Medicare for all, a healthy environment, and gun control

I’m pro-life for adults and for later-term fetuses, but I’m pro-choice for early-term fetuses.  However, it seems that many conservative Americans are pro-life only for fetuses but not so much for children and adults.

Real pro-life includes everyone, not just fetuses. So, I’m in favor of government-guaranteed medical care for everyone.  And I’m in favor of stringent environmental regulations.

Here are some links about how harmful auto and truck traffic are to human health.

Many daycare centers and schools are dangerously close to busy roads.
http://www.invw.org/series/exhausted-at-school/

Living near highways bad for lungs
http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/outdoor/air-pollution/highways.html

Living close to a major roadway could increase dementia, study says
http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/04/health/dementia-risk-living-near-major-road/index.html

Roads are harmful to pregnant women
http://envhealthcenters.usc.edu/infographics/infographic-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution/references-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution

Road pollution associated with increased breast cancer
https://nypost.com/2017/04/06/the-roads-you-live-near-affect-the-health-of-your-boobs/

Road pollution bad for heart health
https://news.heart.org/living-near-busy-roads-may-bad-heart-patients-health/

Then there are the indisputable negative effects of carbon pollution on the climate change.

Employers should stop subsidizing free parking by employees

The Bellevue Planning Commission has recently suggested encouraging employers to stop subsidizing free parking by employees.   The intention is to incentivize people to  use public transportation and other alternatives to commuting by car.   The benefits would be clear: less traffic congestion, less pollution, and a more pleasant environment.

As expected, there’s a posting on nextdoor.com calling on Bellevue residents to stop the proposed plan.  The posting encourages reader to email council members and to express their opposition to the increased parking fees.

One person said that the proposed fees would be an economic hardship on working families.

Yes, the policy to charge for parking will hit everyone, but employers have the option of paying higher salaries. Also, that argument (“It will hit working families”) can be used to oppose almost any regulation that protects people via an economic incentives. Safety regulations on cars, planes, food, and a myriad of goods result in higher prices, but those higher prices are needed to reflect the hidden costs and external costs (e.g., pollution) from the goods and services.  Countries worldwide are moving towards green economies less dependent on fossil fuels.  Our lives and communities need to be reconfigured to reflect the necessary trade-offs.

A similar proposal in 2015 was scrapped because of concerns that drivers would park at malls and would disrupt local businesses.

Since heavy traffic is detrimental to our health and quality of life, it is indeed desirable to make incentives for people to use public transportation and other alternatives to cars. Google “air pollution health” and you’ll find many scary scientific articles about how bad auto pollution is to the lungs of people living near freeways. Do you like sitting in traffic and breathing toxic exhaust? Are you OK with making nearby residents and workers breathe it?

Bipartisan attack on ST3 funding threatens light-rail extensions

(April 20, 2017) — The Legislature is wrapped up in discussions about how to fund (or not fund) K-12 education. But if you look under the covers, you will see that these very same elected representatives and senators are intent on defunding Sound Transit 3. Instead of simply abiding by the voters’ approval of the tax increases necessary to fund mass transit in the Puget Sound area, they are engaging in a bipartisan attack on the election results.

Last November, we approved Sound Transit 3, with more than 54 percent support for the taxes necessary to build out our light rail system. To finance this, voters ratified Sound Transit’s financing plan, which increases property taxes by $25 per $100,000 in assessed value, hikes sales taxes by one half of one percent, and increases annual car-tab fees by about $80 for a vehicle valued at $10,000.

That money will enable Sound Transit to complete a 108-mile light rail network from Everett to Tacoma. By 2040, Sound Transit and its regional transit partners, including Community Transit, will carry more than 200 million passengers, with seven out of 10 trips made by rail, most of those by light rail. That is the key, because light rail is dependable, doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and takes you to where you want to go, or at least close by!

During the campaign, Sound Transit was completely transparent about the taxes. We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people.

Now we have a bipartisan attack on Sound Transit, with both Republicans and Democrats offering proposals for defunding.  The Republicans in the Senate are straightforward. One bill, sponsored by Sen. Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), would allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit taxes. With this one bill, the Republicans enable any city to pull itself out of Sound Transit, regardless of how its citizens benefit. Free rides for all! This bill also appears to be a moneymaker for Tim Eyman, as it enables local initiatives to void all taxes paying for Sound Transit.

In this context, the Democrats’ proposal in the House of Representatives doesn’t look so bad. But it is not good. It, too, undermines the vote of the people last year and the financing necessary for building out Sound Transit.  Twenty Democrats in the House of Representatives endorsed the Sound Transit 3 ballot initiative. Now they are proposing to lower car tabs for motorists who have bought cars recently, and especially for those who have bought the most expensive cars. This is what is considered “providing fair tax relief for motorists.”

Do Democrats think they can win votes from the complainers who do not want to pay their car tabs for Sound Transit? The Democratic proposal does not roll back car tabs to where they were last year. So if you are going to complain, you will complain about your car tab increase whether it is $100 or $200 or $300.

One owner stated that he was billed three times as much as what he paid last year. His total bill was $406. Under the Democrats’ bill, it will be around $275. He won’t like that either.

But let’s stick with the law as approved by the voters. $406 sounds like a lot. Now consider his vehicle: a 2010 Range Rover, with a sticker price of more than $76,000. If he can afford a car that is valued at twice the total annual earnings of typical workers in our state, then he can afford his car tabs. They cost him $1.11 a day.

Under the Democrats’ bill, if passed, car tabs for this fellow would be 75 cents a day. He would save 36 cents a day and Sound Transit would lose 36 cents a day. That’s not much, but you add together all these reductions, and Sound Transit loses $780 million in car tab fees. This will result in a total loss of $2 billion over 25 years, a loss of 4 percent of the total budget for Sound Transit 3, worth about four miles of light rail track.

Perhaps the light rail to Everett would end at Paine Field. You could take a taxi to downtown!

 

Originally published at The Stand.

Report on Standing Rock

[Copied from my post on George Takei’s fb page. This needs to be shared and understood WIDELY, and edited to make readable paragraphs]

….Please forgive the long post. I camped at Standing Rock for three weeks, mid-August to the 9th of September.

A great deal about this situation isn’t being covered by the media. Even those who are well-meaning, like Mark Ruffalo, aren’t getting the following factual information out there. The conversation keeps sliding off into the suffering of the Lakota- another subject that deserves scrutiny- but the dangers of this pipeline need to be addressed- WHY THEY ARE FIGHTING.

I suspect the story would significantly shift if more Americans understood what is at stake. SO – hence the long post.

Bakken Crude is more corrosive than other crudes. It’s also much more radioactive, and higher in methane and propane as well as poisonous compounds.

When this crude first starts travelling through the substandard, cheap-out construction, it will begin eating away at the metal. As crude travels through a pipeline, it is heated by friction and pressure. Methane and propane expand when heated.

The scale [mineral deposits] that forms on the interior of the pipe will be highly radioactive- the kind of radiation that causes cancer in bone and blood.

So WHEN the pipeline leaks or breaks- as it has already done in the places where it’s operational- its million-gallons-an-hour of toxic, radioactive sludge will spill out into the environment, poisoning earth, air , and water [edit to add: and the cleanup efforts, such as they are, will be on the taxpayers, not the corporations].

The pipeline crosses more than 2000 lakes, streams, and rivers [the Missouri, twice], and is at the headwaters of the fourth largest watershed in the world- Seventeen MILLION people get their drinking water there, and the Oglala Aquifer- irrigation source for the Breadbasket of the World- is fed from the same source.

We’re talking about a disaster that will easily rival the Exxon Valdez- but at the center of the water supply for the entire central US. Meanwhile, the crude is going to be refined in Illinois and then SHIPPED OVERSEAS. It’s been documented.

Behind the fight is a nepotistic state government whose cash cow is being threatened by these pesky brown people, after they refused to put the pipeline in in Bismarck as IT COULD THREATEN THEIR WATER SUPPLY.

And the pipeline was originally going to go through Minnesota, but got fought down there [because their regulation system isn’t a JOKE]. /thanks, again, sorry for the longgg post.” ….

“…Additionally- and equally- no, MORE- important- the Lakota have a prophecy of a Black Snake that will come in the seventh generation to destroy the world, unless the people fight it.

This is- now- the seventh generation. The people there are there because they LITERALLY BELIEVE that they must fight this thing in order to SAVE THE WORLD.

This is a deeply spiritual fight for them. They are in continual prayer and spend all of their time walking in Spirit.

The reason more than 300 tribes have joined them- from all over the world, not just the US- and are building solidarity for future endeavors, thanks be to the Divine- is that the prophecy is well-known.

This is not a small thing. This is the biggest thing that has happened in a very long time, and it is the beginning of a fundamental shift in power.

Let's use I-732 (revenue-neutral carbon tax swap) to beat I-1366 (Eyman's 2/3 super-majority blackmail)

There’s a simple way to beat Tim Eyman and his initiative I-1366. At the same time we’ll help the environment, and, optionally, raise revenue to fund schools.  And we can even do it in a revenue-neutral way, thereby making it palatable to Republicans.

By way of background, recall that if I-1366 passes — and early returns suggest that it will — one of three things must happen.

  1. The legislature must put before Washington State voters a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 super-majority of legislators in both the state House and the state Senate (or a majority of voters) to approve any tax increase or reduction in tax breaks; or
  2. The state sales tax must be lowered from 6.5% to 5.5%; or
  3. The state Supreme Court will have to rule that I-1366 is unconstitutional.

But I say there’s a simple solution to this problem, even if the State Supreme Court fails to rule I-1366 to be unconstitutional.

Let’s go ahead and lower the sales tax 1% but at the same raise taxes on carbon, capital gains, and/or income to make up the loss.

The tax on carbon will be similar to the effect of I-732 being (successfully) pushed by CarbonWA. One difference is that I-732’s tax would be revenue-neutral, whereas the current proposal allows, but doesn’t necessitate, revenue neutrality.

Because I-732 apparently has enough signatures to succeed, and because I-732 is an initiative to the legislature, the legislature will need to decide next year whether to impose a revenue-neutral tax on carbon. If they fail to act, a measure will appear on the ballot in 2016 to raise tax on carbon and lower the sales tax and the B&O tax in a revenue-neutral way. My point is: the legislature can use I-732 (or something similar) to neutralize I-1366.

But in addition to raising tax on carbon, we should raise taxes on capital gains and/or on income (with the first, say, $50,000 of income exempt from tax). These taxes would make Washington State’s tax system more fair and progressive. They’d lower tax on most people. After all, our state is said to have the most regressive tax system in the nation.

The voters are correct to be angry about high taxes! Most people are over-paying. What most people don’t understand is the reason their taxes are too high: because our tax system is regressive.

The net result of this proposal is that we’d satisfy the words of I-1366 — we’d lower the sales tax by 1%. But what’s great is that we’d also lower taxes on most people, help save the environment, and make our tax system more progressive.

Even if the tax shift is revenue-neutral — and that would be easier to pass in the legislature — the change will be a big win.

So, there should be no need to be afraid of I-1366 — if the legislature has the guts to do the right thing and if the people of Washington can be educated about what’s in their own self-interest.

The key is just that: educating the public. Will our political leaders show some leadership and help educate the citizens? And will we activists build an effective movement to help this happen? Until we educate the public on this issue, we will continue losing elections and initiatives.

I admit that Republicans in the legislature are unlikely to be reasonable about raising an income tax or capital gains tax. Most of them would be OK with public education failing and with homeless and sick people languishing on the streets. Conservatives will argue that the legislature mustn’t dare go against the will of the voters, who say by their votes that they do not want additional revenue. I have two answers to this.

First, if we make the change revenue-neutral, then the Republicans may agree. As CarbonWA has shown, many conservatives will agree to a revenue-neutral tax shift (for example, More and more conservative thinkers want to tax carbon. Will politicians and activists follow? and Why We Support a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax). In fact, many lefty groups are opposed to I-732 because of its revenue-neutrality and because it was designed in consultation with people from the conservative Washington Policy Center. (See Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, Carbon-tax initiative divides environmentalists, and Why I decline to sign I-732).

Second, the voters are voting against their own self-interest and need to be educated as to why the current tax system is unfair and inadequate.

But we can beat I-1366 without raising revenue.

Stop voting against your own self-interest

Republicans raised taxes on the poor and the middle class

Governor Inslee on our unfair, regressive tax system

Note: This article was previously published under the name Hell, yeah! Let’s lower the sales tax 1% — and raise taxes on carbon, capital gains and/or income.