ECOS Climate Committee Meeting 10/19/23

Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm

LINK to join: ECOS ZOOM 6656164155
or call: 1 669 900 6833, Mtg ID: 665 616 4155

Please note that this meeting will not be recorded.

Jeanie Ward-Waller, former Caltrans’ Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs

6:00 Welcome and Introductions

6:10 Presentation:
Jeanie Ward-Waller was demoted last month, after she notified Caltrans officials that she would file a whistleblower complaint about Sacramento-area highway expansion projects allegedly circumventing environmental rules.

Here are some of the latest updates on the situation:

Coalition letter calling on Gov. Newsom to hold Caltrans accountable to his climate vision, October 17, 2023

The widening of I-80 works against California’s climate goals | Opinion, By Stephen M. Wheeler and Barbara Leary, Special to the Bee, The Sacramento Bee, October 17, 2023

A Caltrans executive questioned a freeway expansion. Then she was demoted, Rachel Uranga, LA Times, October 13, 2023

Editorial: California’s transportation spending doesn’t match its climate promises, LA Times, October 10, 2023

Breaking: California Transportation Official Demoted for Opposing Highway Expansion, Asia Mieleszko, Strong Towns, October 10, 2023

6:30 Discussion/Q&A

7:00 Updates and Announcements

This meeting is open to everyone interested in addressing some of our region’s most pressing challenges.

Click here for the agenda in PDF.

Green Investing

ECOS has received this article from Karsten Kaczmar, an Environmental Impact-Aware Fiduciary Financial Advisor, who attended EOY 2022. We provide it for your information but ECOS makes no endorsement of the author or his services.

My Certified Financial Planner friend swung his arms animatedly, saying “Look, my job is to help my clients make a profit, that’s it! If they want to donate it to causes they believe in, good for them, but my job isn’t to make sure their investments are ecologically responsible.”

I knew I had an uphill battle with this one.

“Okay, we are here to help our clients make the best return they can, but if their investments destroy the planet they’re retiring into, what’s the point?! It’s possible to align their portfolios with their values and still maximize returns, so why not do that instead? That way we’re feeding two birds with one scone.” (I like birds too much metaphorically kill them)

I get into discussions like this from time to time with my financial advisor peers. The issue is that the industry is built so that you won’t notice the harm your investments are really doing, leaving you donating for causes you believe in, but investing in the very companies that contradict those causes.

It’s time to pull back the curtain and reveal what’s really going on with your investments, and how to make sure your retirement and investment funds aren’t erasing the good you’re doing everywhere else. Let’s talk about going green with your money!

The Problem You Aren’t Supposed to Notice-

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Most investors are invested in “mutual funds” or “exchange trades (or index) funds.” These funds allow investors to own a variety of stocks all at once, like owning a little slice of dozens or sometimes even hundreds of companies, for only the “per share” price of the fund. This is usually a good thing, because it means all your investment eggs aren’t in one basket.

The downside is that if you own a bit of all 500 companies on the S & P 500 index, you don’t just own the ones that are advancing a greener world. In most S & P 500 funds, around 10% of your money is directly invested in big oil, fracking, coal, and fossil fuel manufacturing. Some of the companies you’re probably invested in are: Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Petroleum, and about 49 more fossil fuel companies as of the time of this writing (see https://www.morningstar.com/etfs/arcx/spy/portfolio for a full breakdown of these holdings). If you’re in the “energy sector” or “value sector?” That percentage is significantly higher.

Having seen over 2,000 portfolios over my years in the industry, I’ve found many clients are investing in companies they would want nothing to do with if they realized that’s where their money was. Most of us are trained that if we invest in the markets, as long as the number goes where we want over time, we’re doing alright. We aren’t trained to request our advisors minimize investment impacts we don’t align with when they invest our money, and advisors aren’t trained to prioritize this either. This is business as usual, and it’s part of why our efforts to build a greener world seem to move so slowly.

Picture this: You are donating 25,000.00 a year of your investment income to ECOS and other organizations committed to fighting climate change. Meanwhile, you have a million dollar investment portfolio. As you use your 25,000.00 of investment income to fight for change, around 250,000.00 of your investment portfolio makes you a personal owner of the very companies doing what you’re fighting against. You’re quite literally using the money your investments made owning fossil fuel companies to fight fossil fuel companies. One of my clients put it this way: “you vote with your dollars, and we had no idea what we were voting for.”

How to Go Green with your Investments

Your financial goals are important, and your financial security matters. You can’t throw away your financial future to avoid your money going into parts of the market you don’t want it in. It’s important to go green in a way that is financially sound, responsible, and can potentially make you comparable or better returns to whatever you’re currently doing. Here are my top 5 tips to do just that:

  1. Talk to your Financial Advisor, if you work with one
    If you have a financial advisor, talk with them about your values and your desire to invest in an environmentally responsible way. They will have the ability to adjust your portfolio to minimize negative environmental impact while still aligning with your investment goals. Specify that you want your entire portfolio aligned, otherwise many advisors will just re-allocate 10% of your holdings into a green fund and call it “good.” Make sure your advisor has done the research on ESG and Impact Aware funds, because there are a few hundred to choose from. If they lack expertise in this area, I recommend…
  2. Look for a Financial Advisor who specializes in ESG or Impact-Aware Investments
    Some advisors are passionate about and actually specialize in Environmentally and Socially Conscious Investing, and have put in the time to invest their client’s money in a way that minimizes environmental harm and maximizes positive impact. Find them. Most advisors won’t charge you for an initial consultation/analysis of your current holdings and will be happy to provide you with their recommendations for how to align your financial and ethical goals.
  3. Avoid “Greenwashing”
    Even when I was working with one of the largest, most successful investment firms in the world, I discovered that their “environmentally aware” investments were nearly as exposed to fossil fuels and deforestation as their standard investments. Just because an investment says “Green” or “ESG” doesn’t mean it is. This is known as “greenwashing” in my industry, and I see it everywhere. If you want to avoid greenwashing, I recommend…
  4. Use publicly available websites or paid reports to research your investments
    There are some great publicly available websites that provide independent environmental and social justice research on stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds. Some even provide a letter-grade rating as to how negative or positive an impact a particular investment has in various areas, such as global warming, deforestation, gender equality or weapons manufacturing. You can also pay for more extensive research, or pay an advisor like myself to provide you with that same research if you want to save some time and headaches.
  5. Divest and Reinvest–Carefully
    Now that you know the impact of your current investments, and you have alternatives to switch to, you’ll want to sell the things that don’t align with your values, and buy the investments that do. A good financial advisor will do all this for you, but if you are going to do it yourself here are some things to keep aware of: First, pay attention to short vs long term gains, meaning think about if what you’re selling is going to bite you from a tax perspective. Next, make sure you aren’t drastically changing the risk of your investments. Some investments aren’t as actively traded, presenting liquidity risks, or they invest in more risky companies. Even if it looks good on paper, you could be getting into a mess by buying it. Also, make sure you aren’t over-investing in one particular sector of the market, or falling victim to greenwashing.

Follow these five tips, and you’ll be on your way to investments you can be proud of. By aligning your investments and your activism, you can be confident that the largest portion of your money is working in tandem with what you care about, not against it.

Redesigning your investments can be daunting, but it’s worth it. By shifting how we invest, we shift the very flow of capitalism itself. We tell the world Economies that we’re putting our money where our mouth is, refusing to fund with one hand what we fight with the other. Millions have already switched to impact-aware investing, and we are already seeing a few big oil companies change to more green policies in response to the green investing movement. You’ve gone green in other areas, now it’s time to go green in the area that might just have the greatest impact of all.


Karsten Kaczmar is an Environmental Impact-Aware Fiduciary Financial Advisor with Vantage Financial Group, based in Auburn California. He helps clients across the US invest in a way that aligns their financial goals with the values they most care about. He is on a mission to transform the face of capitalism, bringing liberation to marginalized communities and healing to the planet itself through green and socially conscious investing. For more information, find him at realhopeadvisors.com.

All content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions. Nor is it intended to be a projection of current or future performance or indication or future results. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of Karsten Kaczmar. The information contained in this material has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy and completeness and does not purport to be a complete analysis of the materials discussed. All information and ideas should be discussed in detail with your individual adviser prior to implementation. Advisory services are offered by Vantage Financial Group, an Investment Advisor in the State of California. Being registered as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Purchases are subject to suitability. This requires a review of an investor’s objective, risk tolerance, and time horizons. Investing always involves risk and possible loss of capital.

Climate Justice Fest 10/28/23

Saturday, October 28, 2023 , 10:00am-2:00pm
Location: McClatchy Park, 3500 5th Ave, Sacramento, CA

Come say hi to us at the ECOS booth at Climate Justice Fest on Oct. 28th!

This community gathering and resource fair will feature live performances, a kids area, costume contest, vendors, trick-or-treating, educational info on climate justice and more to be announced. Music will be provided by Richie Ledreagle, Moon Magic, Mic Jordan, Dj One Gone and more.

Event Contact: info[at]sacclimate[dot]org

Family Fall Fest 10/1/23

Sunday, October 1, 2023, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

At Stirling Park Drive & Rod Beaudry Drive near the entrance of River Bend Park, Sacramento
See Google map

Come tour this scenic and treasured area of our American River Parkway that includes hiking, biking, and bird watching. Learn about wildlife and critters, our California Pony Express, the Alexander Leidesdorff Ranch, and the Nisenan Indians native to the area.

Enjoy lunch, nature walks, fun arts & crafts, music, and education sessions throughout the day. New this year is a fabulous live bird show and award-winning puppet show. Admission is free!

LOCATION: Stirling Park Drive & Rod Beaudry Drive, near the entrance of River Bend Park, Sacramento

Learn more here.

ECOS at Farm-to-Fork, Sept 23, 2023

ECOS will have a table to Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival on September 23, 2023! If you’re at the event, be sure to stop by our booth to learn more about our Natomas Team and the work they are doing to protect wildlife, habitat, and farmland in Natomas. The ECOS booth will be #533, located in front of 555 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814.

End Fossil Fuels Action 9/17/23

In New York this September, the United Nations Secretary-General is hosting a first-of-its-kind Climate Ambition Summit to demand that nations stop the fossil fuel expansion that is driving the climate emergency. And thousands of activists around the world will take to the streets to demand their governments stop permitting fossil fuel projects.

Join us in Sacramento on Sunday September 17 to demand that Governor Newsom and President Biden End the Era of Fossil Fuels and commit to ending new permits and phasing out oil and gas production and declare a climate emergency.

JOIN US!

Biden told us on the campaign trail that there would be no more oil drilling on federal lands. And yet, his administration has now permitted more fossil fuel projects than Trump, including Willow in Alaska, LNG in the Gulf, and fast-tracking the Mountain Valley Pipeline in the Virginias.

Biden’s failure is Newsom’s opportunity to show what real climate leadership looks like. While we have only seen 7 new oil drilling permits in California so far this year, oil drilling continues to happen just feet from homes, schools and hospitals all over the state.

This could be the moment that Newsom issues a moratorium on new oil drilling permits. We need people power to show him that is what Californians want.

Sign up to join us for an action to End the Era of Fossil Fuels on Sunday Sept 17th in Old Sacramento for a family-friendly day of action, featuring carnival games, a giant puppet show, speakers and performers. To volunteer at the event, contact ilonka[at]oilgasaction[dot]org.