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1.  This week—after unveiling rainbow crosswalks in Capitol Hill this morning (picture below)—mayor Ed Murray will propose a new policy for single-stall bathrooms at city hall and at local businesses: They should no longer be designated by gender.

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The policy, which, as The C is for Crank reported, Sally Clark first proposed last April, won't go as far as more comprehensive trans policy would demand. It doesn't make all bathrooms gender neutral. But it's obviously intended to make the city more accessible to the trans community.

2.  Speaking of more comprehensive, Murray is announcing a new cabinet-level position this morning: a planning czar who will coordinate major projects from silo-ed departments like Seattle City Light, the department of transportation, parks, and the office of housing, to make sure the city is taking a macro approach to growth.

The mayor won't announce who the new big-picture boss will be (only that the position is being created.)

 3. Yesterday, I had the news that the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System (SCERS) issued a finding that a fossil-fuel free stock portfolio performs better over the long haul than a traditional stock portfolio like the S&P 500. (Footnote/correction, by the way: I initially reported that the city's assessment gamed the value with literal predictions of future value. However, the assessment was based on mapping earlier trends.)

Here's another update: I also noted that SCERS, which has been skeptical of calls from SCERS board member and lefty city council member Nick Licata to divest, paired its thumbs down on fossil fuels with a footnote about the UW's own divestment assessment. The UW, whose board of regents voted to divest from coal, simultaneously warned that they stood to lose millions of dollars if they divested from other fossil fuels.

That report evidently deserves an addendum as well. Alex Lenferna, a UW philosophy grad student who both pushed the university to divest (and is advocating that the city does as well) says, "the UW analysis which suggests that one would lose money from divesting is based on the arguably false premise that the next twenty years will be the same as the last twenty for the fossil fuel industry."

Lanferna, a South African Mandela Rhodes and Fulbright Scholar, made this point in an essay he published shortly after the UW's decision, writing:

The World Coal Association will have you think that “divestment does nothing to affect the demand for or use of fossil fuels.” But their PR poker face is belied by a February 2015 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission by Peabody, the largest member of the World Coal Association, which acknowledged (in bold print) that by exposing the financially and environmentally unsustainable nature of its business model “divestment efforts affecting the investment community… could significantly affect demand for our products or our securities.” Confirming Peabody’s fears, the Bank of America, one of the largest bankrollers of coal, recently announced that it will substantially reduce its financing of the coal industry. According to the bank, their new policy arose as a result of pressure from universities and environmental groups.

Bank of America’s decision was also predicated on signs that the coal industry is in structural decline. One of many data points from that decline comes from Peabody itself - if you’d invested $1 in them in 2011 your dollar would be worth less than 8 cents today. Similar trends hold across most of the industry, and what’s more, if we are to keep global warming below 2°C, then that decline is set to deepen, with $4.9 trillion in lost revenues estimated for the industry over the next two decades, according to Kepler Cheuvreux’s renowned energy analyst Mark Lewis. What this means, is that the University of Washington’s analysis, which suggested that based on the past 20 years divesting from thermal coal would result in $13 million of losses over the next 20 years, implicitly assumed that we would dismally fail to keep climate change below 2°C – an implicit assumption common in fossil fuel industry funded financial analyses of divestment.

 

 

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