Should Davis Sign the Green New Deal?

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The Green New Deal is an effort by many to shift the debate over climate change toward policy that seeks to deal with the scale of the crisis.  In the past week over 311 state and local officials have signed it including 44 mayors, 63 county and state legislators.

The policy has some interesting support such as LW Allstadt, a former executive VP of Mobil Oil.

“The existence of climate change and its potential disastrous impacts have been known for decades,” Mr. Allstadt said in a statement. “The solutions, primary among which is elimination of the use of fossil fuels, have also been known.”

Letter was draft by Elected Officials to Protect America, a nonprofit formed in 2015 to rally support for local climate action.  It calls for some major demands specifically calling for 100 percent renewable energy, ending “public subsidization of fossil fuels,” and divesting from fossil fuel companies to “shift public investments to accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean energy and pay for the harm fossil fuels cause our states and municipalities.”

Here is the text of the letter…

Empowering lawmakers to act boldly on climate

Dear Governors, members of Congress, and elected officials throughout America,

We, the undersigned elected officials from across the United States, are deeply concerned about the devastating impacts of climate change and pollution caused by the extraction, processing, and burning of fossil fuels on the communities we represent.

Record droughts, heat waves, wildfires, coastal flooding, ocean acidification, and storms are costing lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages in our communities. Our nation’s mightiest cities have been flooded by unprecedented superstorms including Sandy, Katrina, Harvey, and Maria. Scientists warn that the impacts will continue to worsen, the federal government’s National Climate Assessment predicts economic losses will exceed the GDP of many states, and our military is responding to climate change as a key threat to national security.

Fossil fuel production and burning, the primary driver of climate change, causes serious local impacts and harm to public health from air pollution, water contamination, leaks, explosions and other dangers. Like climate change, the impacts from oil, gas, and coal disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and exacerbate social inequalities.

Fossil fuel companies knew about the damage their product causes for half a century, yet spent billions of dollars to hamstring society’s response. Decades of denial, misinformation, and lobbying from the fossil fuel industry has delayed critical action to transition our society from its current dependence on fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy and has cost people’s lives.

As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must significantly raise the bar for climate leadership and set our nation on a new path. We join with states, cities, businesses, and institutions that are already taking bold action to protect public health and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in energy efficiency and clean energy like wind and solar. Honoring the role of workers in building the America of today, we need to ensure our workers are supported in building the clean energy economy of tomorrow, reducing pollution while expanding opportunity.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recent report, preventing catasphrophic worst-case scenarios of climate change requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Recognizing that we are in a climate emergency, the tremendous costs of climate change and fossil fuels to our communities, and the grave public health and environmental justice consequences of fossil fuel production, we urge jurisdictions throughout America to commit to:

  1. Producing 100% clean, renewable energy, starting with significant investments in disadvantaged communities and places most affected by pollution and currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs.
  2. End permitting of new oil, gas, and coal projects and infrastructure, and begin a swift, managed decline of fossil fuel production, starting with phasing out production within a 2,500-foot public health buffer zone of occupied buildings and vulnerable areas, where the greatest harms occur.
  3. End public subsidization of fossil fuels, divest from fossil fuel companies, and shift public investments to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and help pay for the harm fossil fuels cause our states and municipalities; for example, a modest fee on fossil fuel production would generate billions of dollars to support workers and communities in the transition to 100% clean energy, creating good, family-sustaining jobs and stimulating our economies.

This is the bold climate leadership we need to protect our public health, communities, and economies and lead us forward. By taking these actions and investing significantly more in energy efficiency, clean vehicles and buildings, public transportation, renewable energy, and other innovative solutions in a comprehensive national plan such as a Green New Deal, we will create millions of jobs and a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future for all Americans now and in the future.

 

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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22 thoughts on “Should Davis Sign the Green New Deal?”

  1. Don Shor

    The council should not adopt aspirational goals without serious discussion about how realistic they are, the specific steps needed for implementation, the likely costs, and the actual benefits to the community they represent.

    1. Richard McCann

      We are well positioned in Davis to make this type of evaluation with the expertise in our community. Look for a broader push on these issues soon.

       

      1. Howard P

        And look for a “push-back” from those who understand, that there is little that Davis or the US can do, no matter what sacrifice made, unless China, rest of Asia (including India), Europe, South America, etc. do the same… in the same time frame…

        Not particularly interested in making draconian ‘sacrifices’, if it amounts to ‘pissing in the ocean’ as far as results… just me, perhaps…

        Our “California” climate is much more affected on what happens to the west of us, than anything that happens to the immediate east… that’s what’s “blowing in the wind”… am ok doing 5X more than our ‘fair share’, not so much at the 500X level…

        Am very skeptical as to this ‘proposal’ actually making one iota (scintilla?) difference as to ‘spaceship earth’…

        Not much feeling that this is a “we are the world” thing… feeling no “warm (pun intended) fuzzies”

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          While it is true that Davis or California won’t make a difference, the problem is that if we don’t lead the way, it’s makes it harder to get others to buy in.

  2. Ron

    From article above:  “Record droughts, heat waves, wildfires, coastal flooding, ocean acidification, and storms are costing lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages in our communities.”

    Glad to see this other article today, from the Sacramento Bee (see link, below). (Titled “Paradise will ‘rise from the ashes’ after Camp Fire.  Is that a good idea?”)  (I italicized the pertinent text.)

    Seems obvious and necessary to ask these types of questions, despite the pushback from some.

    https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article222900130.html

  3. Jim Hoch

    “starting with significant investments in disadvantaged communities and places most affected by pollution and currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs.”

    Does not like Davis to me. Why would we sign onto a policy that puts us last on the list? Did we not learn anything from the LCFF?

      1. Howard P

        Methinks Jim is recognizing that if we give 95% of the effort/inherent costs, we get 5% of the benefit… will leave to Jim to clarify…

        But if I am correct, I agree with Jim.

  4. Michael Bisch

    If this is truly the initial focus of the initiative:

    “Like climate change, the impacts from oil, gas, and coal disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and exacerbate social inequalities.”

    And this is truly the first action:

    “Producing 100% clean, renewable energy, starting with significant investments in disadvantaged communities and places most affected by pollution and currently dependent on fossil fuel jobs.”

    Then I would hope every Davisite would support the initiative. Mitigating social inequities seems like a no-brainer. No?

    1. Howard P

      Would agree, if you’d agree that worldwide, we take all of the wealth/resources of every individual and corporation, and redistribute it person to person around the globe… then I could back that… to do so, everyone in Davis would reverse mortgage their house, @ full value, dedicate all other assets to ‘mitigate social inequities’… if you so agree, do that liquidation of assets, and show the way…

      We do a lot towards that, but be care of the word ‘mitigate’… can mean ‘totally offsetting’…

    2. Jim Hoch

      No-brainer indeed. We tried that with the schools, our got worse and LAUSD did not get any better. Some insiders did get a lot fatter however.

      I’m not interested in buying slogans. I’m also not interested in trashing my own interests for the accolades of Indivisible Yolo. I’m with Don. What does this mean for us?

  5. Don Shor

    The Green New Deal was the centerpiece of Jill Stein’s campaign and is being pushed hard right now by the Green Party and the Progressive Caucus. I suspect you will not get mainstream Democrats to sign on, because there is a lot in the 40-page+ proposal that would be electorally disastrous for them. It’s not exactly a profile in courage for a Davis city council member to agree to this. It would be much more difficult for a representative from a state that relies on coal or fracking to agree to it, or has significant conventional agricultural interests.

    Renewables are about 15% of our energy right now. Tell me how we get to 100%. Then I can assess how realistic a world view this is.  How many nuclear plants, and where? How many wind turbines, and where?

    This will split progressives from what they like to call the “center-left” of the Democratic party. The only beneficiaries of pushing hard for this at this time would be conservatives and Republicans. I think this is a very misguided effort and the “Green New Deal” brand is very tarnished by association with the Green Party. Similar policies with more pragmatic implementation and less rosy marketing might be in order.

    1. Ken A

      Don asks:

      > Renewables are about 15% of our energy right now. Tell me how we get to 100%.

      We can start with requiring every apartment in town to come with an electric car and solar charger then we can ban all non electric cars in town by 2020 and give every home in town until 2020 to switch from gas to electric heat.  For about $20 Billion (less than a half million per person) we should be able to make the city of Davis Zero Net Energy (ZNE).  I have to chuckle when my “green” friends (most who are bad at math) think this is a great idea…

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Last summer when I toured one of the affordable housing facilities in Sacramento, they had an electric zip car that every tenant could have access to for three hours a week. It was purchased by a grant. Why haven’t we pursued something like that? There is a push to go to 100 percent electric, which then could get partially off the grid, but how do we retrofit? I don’t see how we can ban all non-electric cars realistically by 2020, but we can certainly do a lot more than we are now.

        1. Ken A

          I’m wondering if David can tell us what kind of electric cars and solar charging system his family owns (and if he does not own electric cars with solar charging then why he is not doing “a lot more”)…

          P.S. I would love to own a Tesla 100D and charging system but it would cost more than $100K more than I paid for my current car…

  6. Michael Bisch

    I’m not sure how we get to the 100%, Don.  But I’m focused on one of the primary justifications listed for this initiative as well as the first action step listed. Since our prosperity has been won at the expense of vulnerable populations, that needs to be addressed in my view.

    1. Howard P

      Michael, with all due respect, if climate change is pandemic, why single out “vulnerable populations”… and what is the definition of that, and on what basis?  Just asking…

  7. Keith O

    Making climate change all about income redistribution and social inequities is where all you liberals go wrong.  You’re never going to get a majority to sign on to any Green Pact if you keep going down this road.

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