Hello and welcome to Philly Talks Climate — where we talk about the climate crisis, how it affects Philadelphia, and how we solve this for our region. I’m Meenal Raval, and I’ll be your host. With me today is Sue Edwards, a member of the Philly’s Ready for 100 team.
On our last episode, episode 21, we talked about the global youth strike happening today, right now in Center City Philadelphia. On that show, we talked about Students Strike for Climate, and Professors Develop 1.5 minute Climate Lectures. Missed that episode? You can listen, or read episode 21 at Philly Talks Climate.
Many Philadelphians are in support of these student strikes, and it’s been heartening to see all this focused energy.
Last week we mentioned that more suburban towns have signed the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 resolution, committing to power their entire towns with renewable energy. Some of the larger cities across the country that have passed the Ready for 100 resolution are — Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Orlando, St. Louis, San Diego, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.
Of the 135 towns across the US, about 20 are in Southeast PA.
Volunteers with Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign in Philly met with Philadelphia council members during their summer recess. They asked our City Council to consider the Ready for 100 resolution for Philly.
We’re are pleased to announce that this resolution was introduced in Council yesterday, thanks to Council member Sanchez.
What does this mean? If passed next week, this means that Philadelphia City Council has resolved that
- The City of Philadelphia shall appoint Philadelphia Gas Commission members who support and advocate for clean renewable energy in PGW’s operations; and
- The City of Philadelphia shall continually publicly report its progress towards meeting the community-wide goals, creating pathways to become a carbon-neutral within new budget allocation investments in order to achieve the departments’ and resolution’s goals.
- The public will have opportunities and be encouraged to participate in the process for planning and implementation.
- The City Council commits to allocating appropriate resources to ensure that the goals of this resolution are achieved beyond Mayor Kenney’s administration until its goals are achieved; and
- That the City of Philadelphia shall take measures to achieve a fair and equitable transition to the use of 100% clean renewable energy for electricity in municipal operations by 2030,
- for electricity city-wide by 2035, and
- for all energy (including heat and transportation) city-wide by 2050 or sooner.
Let’s take this one at a time…
The City of Philadelphia shall appoint Philadelphia Gas Commission members who support and advocate for clean renewable energy in PGW’s operations.
PGW is Philadelphia Gas Works, our municipal utility, and the largest municipal utility in the nation. PGW is owned and managed by the City of Philadelphia. PGW supplies gas to about 500,000 customers, most of them residential. This gas is responsible for about 22% of our emissions. It’s imperative that each gas boiler and water heater be replaced with zero-emissions electric options. Since the Mayor appoints members of the Philadelphia Gas Commission, who steer PGW management, it’s imperative that the Gas Commission operates with this ethos. And by the way, think of all the jobs this will create, replacing every gas appliance with electric! LIHEAP and other programs will need to assist low-income residents with this process. And training programs must be made available so unemployed and underemployed Philadelphia residents have a shot at these jobs.
The City of Philadelphia shall continually publicly report its progress towards meeting the community-wide goals, creating pathways to become a carbon-neutral or a “carbon sink” within new budget allocation investments in order to achieve the departments and resolutions goals.
It falls upon our OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY to report on our progress. But they’re a 6 person team. This item means Council needs to consider increasing budgets for the OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY and other departments to actually make this happen.
The public will have opportunities and be encouraged to participate in the process for planning and implementation.
Many of us have often asked for public participation in our energy future. Well, we’re getting a chance. So if you’ve read about what other cities are doing, now’s the time to get engaged. Contact the Philly’s Ready for 100 team!
The City Council commits to allocating appropriate resources to ensure that the goals of this resolution are achieved beyond Mayor Kenney’s administration until its goals are achieved
Since our climate goals have 15 and 30 year timelines, well beyond term limits for elected officials, we need to ensure that future mayors stay on course.
That the City of Philadelphia shall take measures to achieve a fair and equitable transition to the use of 100% clean renewable energy for electricity in municipal operations by 2030, for electricity city-wide by 2035, and for all energy (including heat and transportation) city-wide by 2050 or sooner.
This final clause determines the timelines we work towards. The City already has a municipal energy master plan to transition municipal electricity to renewables by 2030. We’ve given ourselves 5 more years, till 2035, to transition everyone else’s electricity.
No really… what’s this mean? It means we, each of us, needs to begin thinking about electrifying everything when we replace an appliance or a vehicle. For decisions outside our household control, like school buildings and transit vehicles, we need to remind Council of this resolution each time they authorize replacement of boilers and vehicles.
And it’s essential — as this resolution says — that this process be fair and equitable, given that marginalized communities currently suffer most from pollution and climate change, in terms of higher asthma rates, higher air temperatures on hot days, flooded neighborhoods, and fewer resources with which to re-build. Racism has played a role in this, with red-lining, housing discrimination, wage gaps, and more. And as with the Solarize Philly initiative, there must be access to clean energy for people of low income.
Put even simpler…
This progressive resolution will have us rethink every single decision we make going forward. Once we’ve pledged we’re going to transition to 100% renewable energy, we must no longer invest in any new fossil fuel project.
We seek to transition not only our buildings, but also our transportation, our electricity, and our relationship to single-use plastics to renewable and reusable alternatives.
In buildings, we currently use oil or gas (both fossil fuels) for heating. In transportation, we currently use gasoline or diesel (also fossil fuels) for moving us and our stuff around. Our electricity comes from a mix of coal, oil, gas, nuclear — and renewables. And the single-use plastics we rarely think out — the checkout bags, the disposable cutlery, the styrofoam coffee cups, the plastic straws — are all made from fossil fuels. And we all need to reduce our dependance from fossil fuels, and transition to better alternatives — for a livable planet for many generations to come!
That was News You Can Use…
The Philly’s Ready for 100 team will be refining an action plan this fall to prioritize, let’s say triage, our decisions. If you, or an organization you’re active with, wants a voice in this process, please contact the Philly’s Ready for 100 team! Their website is readyfor100.org/philly, where you can fnd a full copy of the resolution. We’ll post a link to the City’s website once it’s there. The Philly’s Ready for 100 team meets twice a month, and nearly every day via online discussions!
Engage with your Elected Reps
Please thank your council members for this resolution. Send them your climate action ideas, and please copy us at Philly Talks Climate.
Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact info for your council members can be found on the Engage page at Philly Talks Climate
Connect with Concerned Others
After today’s climate strike, come to the Ikea in South Philly on Saturday. Where you’ll see an array of zero emission all electric cars that other Philadelphians are driving.
Also on Saturday, you may want to join a march for the people of Puerto Rico, victims of the climate disaster called Hurricane Maria. It’s been two years since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Organizers of this march invite climate justice groups and activists to join the march with signs that feature messages like “Puerto Rico needs a Green New Deal”.
You’ll find details on our Connect page at Philly Talks Climate.
This is Meenal & Sue, on Philly Talks Climate. Thanks for listening!
Music at end was We need to wake up… | https://youtu.be/XGgBtHoIO4g