third meeting

Notes from Jan 14, 2020 meeting to discuss near term climate action by Philadelphia  government

30 people participated (alphabetical by first name): Alex Lola, Bernard Reed, Brent Groce, Cameron Walker, Darrell Gresham, Dave Moscatello, Dita William, Emily Davis, Eugene Chislenko, Fareed Abdullah, Freyda Kornblum, Guy & Claudia Aiken, Hao-Li Loh, Jeanne Myers, Jim Wylie, Judy Morgan, Lisa Hastings, Lynn Robinson, Marilyn Reid, Meenal Raval, Mehdi Entezari, Pat Libbey, Poune Saberi, Pratima Agrawal, Soosy Pothen, Tabitha Skervin, Tammy Murphy, Traci Confer, Wanda Walker — with Eugene Chislenko facilitating, and Judy Morgan as note taker.

10 groups represented: All Together Now PA, Energy Justice Network, Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), Eastern Service Workers Assoc (ESWA), Extinction Rebellion Philly (XR), Neighbors Against the Gas Plants (NAGP), NW Philly Climate Action Network, Penn Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Philadelphia (PSR), Ready for 100 Philadelphia (RF100), The Climate Mobilization (TCM) — Philadelphia

Our discussion was around 2 documents developed since our last meeting in December. Both can be viewed at the links below.

  1. One was an 8 page document titled What could a Green New Deal for Philly look like?, listing goals and policies that would combine climate and social justice needs. 
  2. The other was a one sheet summarizing policies by sector & player.

There was a good discussion as we explained some of the policies in these documents. 

  • Buildings – Talking about “Landlord Energy Use Disclosure Requirement” led to discussion on to how to hold landlords accountable, and how might apartments get upgraded. One suggestion was to connect this with international property maintenance code and renewing rental licences. 
  • Transportation – Discussion of Vision Zero and Fair Fares brought a realization that most people didn’t know about the Bicycle Coalition or 5th Square, groups leading on these issues.  We need to specify the lead groups on each policy, so others can  engage with them about their proposals for change. New ideas were about electric trash trucks and electric vehicles for ride sharing
  • Waste – The explanation of large scale shade tree planting and care combined with non-mechanized street sweeping and litter collection intrigued many. New ideas were to 
    • Compensate people for litter collection
    • Eliminate single stream recycling
    • Consider NYC’s composting program
    • Consider generating synthetic hydrogen from organics, to replace natural gas for buildings and for transportation energy 
    • Investigate how a ban in single-use plastics might affect small businesses and work with small business owners to seek answers to make it possible
  • Funding – The discussion about funding the transition, either with a public bank or with a clean energy fund like Portland led to a suggestion that we call this topic Investments, not Funding. 

Some other observations were: 

  • We could start with incentives with a clear timetable for increasing fees, and a deadline date for mandatory change, to force the shift away from fossil fuels. This way people know what to expect, and know they have to make the transition, but can do it somewhat at their own pace.  
  • We discussed inefficient and mismanaged government / PGW / PECO utility programs to help low income residents with their energy burden. Streamlining these programs and removing loopholes that result in utility cut-offs and sometimes tragic deaths, needs to be a priority. 
    • Utilities should be criminalized for doing cutoffs, given the large amounts of money that shareholders and bondholders are making from the utilities.  It’s important to hold corporations accountable and not let them focus on profits at the expense of underserved communities. There is a need to keep educating people about how the system works, and how much money is extracted from Philadelphia without coming back in the form of jobs for people in the communities. 
    • Combining social justice concerns (like utility cutoffs) with environmental concerns could unite and galvanize a much wider base of people.
  • There is a tendency for organizations to work in silos. The purpose of producing these documents and discussions is to have a clear set of shared goals that many groups can unite behind.  The goals should have flexible timetables, which may be speeded up as weather events and biodiversity extinctions manifest, with regular reassessments of the timeline and priorities. 

Suggestions for next steps:

  • Identify the low hanging fruit & go after these 
  • Organize a strategy discussion about approaching City Council 
  • Consider a spokes and hub model, with smaller working groups around an issue that report back to the central team. Have all working groups meet separately on the same date at CityCoho and gather together to report out.
  • Vote on the listed policies


  1. All participants are encouraged to talk with organizations they’re connected with them, describe the general plan, and invite them to participate. 
  2. The group liked the discussion and wanted to continue meeting. We agreed on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Next meeting will be on Tue 2/11 @ 6:30, also at City Coho, 2401 Walnut Street, Philadelphia with Eugene Chislenko facilitating.
  3. We decided to call our work the Green New Deal for Philly as an interim title.
  4. Alex, Cameron, Dave and Mehdi stepped up to work with Judy, Lynn and Meenal as the core planning group, to prepare for our 4th meeting.  This team is to develop a list of working groups. Others will be invited to join one of these groups, to begin to research and network with key organizations to flesh out policy proposals.  It’s envisioned that each working group will have one or two representatives to a central coordinating group, or council.

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