Chris Ying wants restaurants to lead the fight against climate change
This year at Mad4, Chris Ying, editor of Lucky Peach magazine announced an upcoming project intended to help restaurants use their resources to fight climate change by establishing a set of best practices for restaurants interested in reducing their carbon footprint, work directly with restaurants to lower their carbon emissions, and provide useful feedback as to where restaurants can improve their carbon footprint.
“Eating, it turns out, is the most significant interaction most of us have with the environment,” wrote Ying in a Lucky Peach essay.
“The food system is responsible for 30 percent of worldwide carbon emissions. That is to say, almost a third of greenhouse gases are a result of growing, shipping, cooking, and disposing of food… Kitchens connect us to the natural world, and it follows that cooks have a particular vulnerability to the effects of global warming.”
Restaurants, writes Ying, have both the ability and resources to make conscious changes that reduce their carbon footprint; they can achieve this by adjusting their electricity use, work associated with cultivating process deliveries, and waste management practices.
For those restaurants that manage to achieve a zero carbon footprint, the project will offer certification. Though legally meaningless, Ying hopes that Zero Footprint will create a “desirable brand out of being environmentally conscious.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
Green new meal: restaurants can charge diners to reduce their carbon food-print
Dining out isn’t the most eco-friendly activity, thanks to the carbon footprint of food brought in and the waste inherent in running a restaurant. Now, an effort by California restaurants wants diners to help fight climate change – by paying more.
Concerned eateries can join the Restore California Renewable Restaurant Program and add an optional 1% surcharge to diners’ checks. The money will go towards a public fund to help farmers reduce carbon in their food production practices.
The program pays farmers $10 per ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere. The idea is to shift farming production to healthier soils. By tilling the earth more gently, composting and rotating crops on the same land, farmers can improve the soil’s ability to absorb carbon.
So far, more than 25 restaurants have signed on to the program – and more are expected to join.
According to the Perennial Farming Initiative, which created the program, payments will be gathered by the California Air Resources Board (Carb) and spent on implementing carbon plans on farms and ranches across California, “boosting healthy soil, which not only fights climate change but also leads to better, healthier, tastier food”. Restaurants can bill themselves as carbon-friendly, and farmers get extra money to invest in the most climate-helpful production practices, in a process known as carbon farming.
California has been hard hit by a changing climate already, most visibly through devastating wildfires in fall of 2018, but also through persistent drought and flooding.
The state aims to be completely carbon-neutral by 2045, and farming practices play an important role in pulling carbon from the air and keeping it safely stored. The Perennial Farming Initiative, started by the San Francisco chef Anthony Myint, says a 2% increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.
“Farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of the battle against climate change,” said the California department of food and agriculture (CDFA) secretary, Karen Ross, in a press release. “This partnership is an opportunity for eaters and buyers to share in land-based solutions.”
While diners have been interested in local farm-to-table options for years, the initiative expects that climate-friendly meals will be the next big trend. They point out that if 1% of California’s nearly 100,000 restaurants were to successfully adopt the new climate change surcharge, they would raise $10m a year.“We’re excited to be working with CARB and CDFA on a program that will engage chefs, producers and diners across the state in a transition to a renewable economy that is not only resilient and renewable, but also delicious, healthy and prosperous.”
Major actions to fight climate change
1. Reduce emissions
Use your car less, whenever possible, instead use sustainable transportation, such as bicycling, or use public transportation more often. In the case of long-distance travel, trains are more sustainable than airplanes, which cause a great deal of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. If you're into cars, remember that every kilometer that you increase your speed will considerably increase CO2 emissions and expenses. According to the CE, each liter of fuel that your car uses, equals 2.5 kilos of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
2. Save energy
Take a look at the labels on your appliances, and never leave them on standby. Always adjust the thermostat for heating and air conditioning. By being careful how we use home appliances, we can save energy and, of course, money at the end of the month.
3. Put the 3 R's of sustainability into practice
- Reduce: consume less, more efficiently.
- Reuse: take advantage of second-hand markets, to give new life to items that you don't use anymore or find something that someone else has gotten rid of that you need. You'll be saving money and reducing your consumption. Bartering is also a practical solution.
- Recycle: packaging, waste from electronics, etc. Did you know that you can save over 730 kilos of CO2 each year just by recycling half of the garbage produced at home?
4. What about your diet? Eat low-carbon
A low-carbon diet results in smarter consumption:
- Reduce your meat consumption (livestock is one of the biggest contaminators of the atmosphere) and increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat food that is local and in season: read the label and eat food that is produced in the area, avoid imports which create more emissions due to transportation. Also, eat seasonal items, to avoid less sustainable production methods.
- Avoid excessive packaging and processed foods as much as possible.
5. Act against forest loss
- As far as possible, avoid anything that may be a fire hazard.
- If you want to buy wood, choose wood with a certification or seal showing its sustainable origin.
- Plant a tree! Throughout its life, it can absorb up to a ton of CO2.
6. Make demands from the government
Demand that they take measures toward a more sustainable life, any way that you can: promote renewable energy, regulatory measures such as properly labelling products (fishing method used, labels that specify product origins, whether or not they are transgenic, etc.), promote more sustainable public transportation, promote the use of bicycles and other non-polluting transportation methods in the city, correctly manage waste through recycling/reuse, etc.
The population has more power than it realizes to demand measures from governments to raise global awareness of the global warming problem.
Think globally, act locally. Your actions are needed in the fight against climate change. Can you think of any other things to do? Share them with us!
- You’re hungry and you feel like having a snack, what would you choose?
- You have to travel from Madrid to Barcelona, which means of transportation would you use?
- You meet your friends at a bar terrace, which soft drink would you choose?
- From the following ‘R’s, the one you practice the most is…
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Portland restaurants team up to fight climate change
Butter was the real surprise. Earlier this year, Coquine chef Katy Millard and partner Ksandek Podbielski combed through their records to see how much beef, milk, dried pasta, cooking oil, water, gas and more they used each year. Once they gathered this data, and how far it had traveled to reach their Southeast Portland restaurant, they sent the survey to Zero Foodprint, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that recruits restaurants in the fight against climate change.
In return, they received a number: 185. As in, their restaurant releases 185 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of a year’s worth of driving for 40 passenger vehicles. Their biggest ticket item? Butter, the production and transportation of which made up 11 percent of the restaurant’s total carbon footprint. In order to receive Zero Foodprint certification, Coquine was asked to contribute 10 cents per diner -- about $3,000 a year -- toward farming programs that some scientists think could slow or even reverse greenhouse gas emissions by storing carbon in the soil.
This weekend will feature a flurry of local events in honor of Earth Day from Zero Foodprint, starting on Saturday, when 17 Portland restaurants -- and more than 100 others from Copenhagen to Colorado -- will commit to going carbon neutral for a day. On Sunday, Zero Foodprint co-founder Anthony Myint will speak on a panel at The Redd building with Millard, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and others about how these regenerative farming practices could reverse climate change. And on Monday, Earth Day, Millard and Myint will cook a dinner with Kachka chef Bonnie Morales and Jacob Harth of Erizo, with proceeds going to help defray the cost of carbon footprint assessments for the latter two restaurants.
Myint and his partner, Karen Leibowitz, who will host Sunday’s panel, have been prominent food world figures for more than a decade, best known for co-founding Mission Chinese Food, a modern Chinese-American pop-up they opened with chef Danny Bowien inside a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission district. For the past three years, the duo ran Perennial, a forward-looking San Francisco restaurant that sought to fight climate change through composting, perennial grains and other sustainable farming practices.
That restaurant closed in February. Today, Myint wonders if the original farm-to-table movement’s "pastoral idealism’ might be moving too slowly in its response to global warming. Taken as a whole, food production, distribution, refrigeration and waste is thought to contribute nearly one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. Fifteen of the top 15 climate change solutions identified by Project Drawdown were food-related. But local sourcing and other sustainable practices have yet to be widely adopted. Myint notes that organic produce still amounts to just 2 percent of all farming acreage world-wide.
Myint thinks a speedier solution might lie in scaling up carbon farming, or agriculture practices that help store carbon in the soil. Studies out of the University of California at Berkeley indicate that a combination of practices, including spreading a thin layer of compost above ranch and farmland, could actually pull carbon from the atmosphere. The project was detailed last year in a New York Times Magazine cover story, “Can Dirt Save The Earth?”
“Part of the problem that we started to realize was that at the moment, the only real instrument to change is by sourcing local, but not only do people have farm-to-table fatigue, that practice can only apply to certain business models,” Myint said. “It’s not like Burgerville can just go to the farmer’s market. There needs to be a way for caterers and campus dining halls to change without having to source well.”
With Zero Foodprint, Myint hopes to enlist chefs and restauranteurs “to become part of the solution on climate change.” That starts with conducting a carbon footprint analysis. Based on the results, restaurants are asked to contribute a small percentage of their revenue, typically between 10 cents and a dollar per diner, to healthy soil projects on farms and ranches in California. Some restaurants add a surcharge to their bills. Others, including Coquine, build the costs into their business model. Long-term, the group hopes to enlist 500 restaurants to drive some $1.5 million toward the creation of 50,000 acres of new carbon-farmed land per year.
“The restaurant industry is the biggest part of the whole food system economically,” Myint says. “And not only do chefs represent the most dollars, they represent priceless cultural capital. If 10 celebrity chefs really started working on climate change, that would trickle down so far.”
Coquine, already known for its use of local produce, landed in the lower 25th percentile for carbon emissions among Zero Foodprint’s already self-selecting group. So what about that big ticket item? While Millard trained at Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Podbielski doesn’t consider Coquine a particularly butter-rich restaurant -- much of that butter goes into their popular chocolate chip, smoked almond, salted caramel cookies.
“We’ve been making an effort since day one to not be as wasteful as it’s easy to be in a restaurant,” Podbielski said. “I hope other people will see this and jump on board.”
Restaurant-led ag effort aims to fight climate change
DENVER (AP) &mdash On an early weekday morning in Longmont, the co-owners of the boutique catering company Whistling Boar are busy in the kitchen getting their weekly meal boxes ready for delivery. David Pitula and Debbie Seaford-Pitula moved to Colorado from Brooklyn five years ago with dreams of living closer to the farms they worked with.
&ldquoWe wanted to be more personal with the farms,&rdquo Seaford-Pitula said. &ldquoWe have farmers who now grow for us specifically, (asking) &lsquoWhat do you need this season?&rsquo&rdquo
The two said that part of that farm-restaurant relationship should be supporting farmers and ranchers in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints. Agriculture emits more than 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gasses, and reducing that number is vital to addressing climate change.
Most ranchers sell their cattle to a meat company for the going price, so there&rsquos often little profit or incentive to invest in significant environmental improvements to their land. Something as simple as planting trees among pastures is expensive, especially across hundreds or thousands of acres.
&ldquoThese kinds of things are great for biodiversity and take carbon out of the atmosphere and create all this public benefit and conserve water,&rdquo said Anthony Myint. &ldquoBut they can&rsquot sell the beef for an extra dollar.&rdquo
Myint is a restaurateur and the co-founder of Zero Foodprint, a nonprofit working with Boulder County to support regenerative agriculture projects that can help fight climate change.
Restore Colorado is a simple idea, but Myint hopes it will have a big impact. Restaurants and other food businesses donate 1 percent of their profits to fund farming and ranching projects that suck carbon from the atmosphere through plants that take in the greenhouse gas and store it in healthy soil. Some see regenerative agriculture as a key way to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air worsening climate change.
&ldquoIf we can&rsquot afford 1 percent to give back, then we should not be (running our business),&rdquo Debbie said.
Boulder started Restore Colorado through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and teamed up with Myint, who founded well-known Mission Chinese Food in New York and San Francisco and first started crowd-funding carbon-farming grants in California.
&ldquoOur ultimate goal is to create a renewable food economy,&rdquo Myint said.
To give farmers extra financial support to invest in climate-friendly agriculture, Myint thinks the food industry should take cues from the energy industry. Electricity customers, for example, can pay a little extra on their utility bills to support clean energy or elect to buy power from a solar farm.
&ldquoWe don&rsquot really have that system in farming,&rdquo he said.
More than 50 restaurants have joined Zero Foodprint. About 15 of those are in Colorado, including Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction and River and Woods in Boulder, and more have pledged to participate. The owner of five Subway restaurants in Boulder is also on the list.
&ldquoThat&rsquos almost better than getting Michelin-star chefs on board because it helps to signal that there&rsquos a new normal, and that really anybody can be part of this movement to build healthy soil and fight climate change,&rdquo Myint said.
&mdash Regenerative agriculture in practice
McCauley Family Farm in Longmont is one of the first in Colorado to get a grant from this program. Farm manager Marcus McCauley said one way he will use the money is to create more silvopasture, where trees are grown on grazing land. Those trees can provide a windbreak for the grass, and the protection and shade can help keep moisture in the ground during a drought.
&ldquoAround here that&rsquos probably the best bang for the buck in trying to get more carbon pumped into the ground,&rdquo McCauley said.
All of these things mean healthier soil on McCauley&rsquos farm. That healthier soil means the trees and grass suck even carbon out of the air. And healthier plants mean McCauley&rsquos pasture-raised chicken and sheep are more nutritious &mdash and they do less damage to the land.
Restaurants put climate change on the menu
San Francisco restaurateurs Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz may have been ahead of their time with their environmentally minded restaurant. The Perennial, which closed in February after three years of business in the city’s challenging Mid-Market neighborhood, tried to tackle climate change through hyperlocal sourcing, energy efficiency, an eco-conscious design, food waste prevention and consumer education, among other planet-friendly practices.
But the culinary couple, partners in life and work, haven’t lost their sense of urgency around global warming and how the restaurant industry could play a key role in combating the problem. Their latest climate change campaign with a culinary bent: an optional surcharge on California restaurant checks as part of a new public-private initiative supporting carbon farming practices that Myint and Leibowitz are leading called Restore California.
The pair came to realize that one restaurant alone can’t change the food system fast enough to make an impact on the climate crisis. It takes an international village of concerned culinary industry leaders, they say, to take on a topic that many diners and chefs can find tough to digest: the critical role that regenerative agriculture – think practices like composting and cover cropping – can play in mitigating the impact of global warming. In a state now suffering the wrath of hotter, drier weather in the form of larger, more frequent and more devastating wildfires, Myint and Leibowitz’s message has only taken on more urgency.
San Francisco restaurateurs Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint. Photo for The Washington Post by Alanna Hale
As the co-founders of the popular pop-up Mission Street Food, Myint and Leibowitz are no strangers to industry innovation. In 2014, they founded the nonprofit Zero Foodprint, which serves as a resource for restaurants and food service providers that want to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint, by, say, switching to renewable energy, eschewing plastic or sourcing sustainably raised beef. To date, around 30 restaurants have achieved carbon-neutral status under the program twice that number are on their way to earning the stamp.
Chef/owner Ryan Ratino in the dining room at Bresca in Washington, D.C. Washington Post photo by Deb Lindsey
Michelin-starred Bresca is Washington’s lone entry on the list of Zero Foodprint’s carbon-neutral restaurants, which includes such other upscale dining establishments as California’s Atelier Crenn, Benu and State Bird Provisions. “With small adjustments we can make huge impacts for our environment,” says Bresca chef/owner Ryan Ratino, who works with “imperfect” foods and whole animals, composts and uses compostable containers, and avoids plastic and over-ordering. “My hope is that these sustainable practices become a lifestyle for our restaurants and in this way we truly make a difference together.”
That’s the goal. “Food is both a major cause and a major solution to global warming. We’ve spent five years engaging chefs and restaurateurs on becoming part of the solution to climate change,” says Myint, an earnest, self-described social introvert who makes fun of how much he geeks out on climate change science and potential solutions. Since he is a chef, he understands them: They’re busy people, consumed by daily operations and razor-thin profit margins, who have what he calls “a really strong B.S. meter.” He adds: “But chefs possess all this cultural capital, they’re agile, they get stuff done and make things work. This could become a global movement of chefs who want to do the right thing.”
And the culinary industry, he says, is uniquely positioned to support this cause. When Myint talks up the benefits to the planet of carbon farming and why restaurants should add a small fee to aid farmers in implementing such practices, he doesn’t get too into the science-y weeds. Put simply, carbon farming increases soil carbon (that’s a good thing) and decreases carbon dioxide in the air (also a good thing). As one chef told him, “You mean I just have to add a 1 percent fee to unf— the planet?”
Something like that. Restaurants that sign up to participate in Restore California – a partnership between Myint and Leibowitz’s culinary-agricultural nonprofit Perennial Farming Initiative and its Zero Foodprint program, and the state Department of Food and Agriculture and California Air Resources Board – commit to collecting a 1 percent optional fee from customers to fight climate change by helping fund farmers who implement practices designed to reduce, contain or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. CO2 is considered one of the main contributors to climate change.
This fall, Zero Foodprint is gathering support for the Restore California program, formally announced in the spring, with the intent of highlighting a core group of early adopters come January 2020, says Leibowitz. San Francisco newcomer Great Gold, a modern Italian restaurant that opened in August and already has a Zero Foodprint ranking, is experimenting with listing the surcharge in the fine print on its menu. “Most of our customers don’t mind the surcharge, but we have had a few complaints,” says partner/co-owner David Steele, who notes that San Francisco diners are already used to a 5 percent surcharge to help fund health insurance and other employee costs. “We will continue to monitor this. If we feel it is not fully accepted by our customers, we will remove the 1 percent (from menus) and just eat the cost internally because we believe deeply in the cause.”
Myint points to the early success of such efforts with restaurants he’s involved with. Since the fall of 2018, Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco, Myint and Leibowitz’s brick-and-mortar restaurant, has included a 3 percent carbon farming surcharge. Out of the more than 30,000 diners who have eaten at the restaurant since then, only a handful have questioned the charge and just one consumer – paying for a group of four – declined to participate, says Myint, who sees that as an encouraging sign, since few consumers want to pay more for food than they have to. A sister restaurant in Copenhagen, Vesterbro Chinese Food, where Myint serves as a consultant, is carbon-neutral and includes a 1 percent surcharge on its bill. At a different price point on the dining scale, one San Francisco burger joint opted for an alternative way to pass on the carbon surcharge to consumers by building it into the price of menu items. The robot restaurant Creator, which includes a Mission Street Food burger by Myint, increased the cost of its $6 and $7 burgers by 7 cents to support the cause.
In California, the surcharge funds are managed by a social impact bank partner of the Perennial Farming Initiative. Eligible farmers complete an assessment for funding consideration. The program will serve as a complement to California’s existing Healthy Soils Program. That government program funds carbon farming practices such as hedgerow and tree planting, cover crops and crop rotation, composting and other measures that pull carbon dioxide from the air, prevent its release from the soil or store it in the ground.
“This could potentially help a lot of farmers and ranchers who don’t have the capital to implement carbon farming practices, which can be expensive, risky and take time to learn what to do,” says Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch in Marin County, Calif., an early adopter of carbon farming practices through the Marin Carbon Project. Poncia has received funding twice from the Healthy Soils Program to implement such efforts. “For consumers, it’s a chance to vote with their dollars and commit to helping combat climate change in a way they’ll barely notice on their check but will collectively add up and really help,” says Poncia. “Global warming is here. We only have so much time to implement change. Things are getting worse, not better. It’s never a bad thing to build better soil.”
Changing agricultural practices to reduce and store greenhouse gases will be crucial for the Golden State’s goal, set by former Gov. Jerry Brown, D, of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045, an ambitious undertaking for the fifth-largest economy in the world. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said healthy soils are a “passion of mine,” pledged $28 million in Healthy Soils Program funding in this year’s budget. Not everyone thinks that’s enough to increase carbon-focused farming in California to meet the state’s decarbonization goals.
Global warming’s impact on the food supply has been linked to mussels being cooked in their shells in a heat wave on the California shore, stone fruit shortages across the United States due to low-chill winters and erratic frosts, and Napa Valley vineyard growers experimenting with different varieties to adapt to changing weather patterns, among other disruptions.
This summer, Zero Foodprint’s carbon farming crusade received a big international boost when Myint won the Basque Culinary World Prize, which comes with 100,000 euros in prize money attached, courtesy of the Basque Culinary Center and the Basque Government. The annual award honors a chef who demonstrates how gastronomy can serve as a powerful force for positive change. Myint says he intends to use the award to further the work of Zero Foodprint.
The prize was announced at a Sustainable Thinking Symposium in San Francisco, which brought together some of the world’s most prominent chefs, including Italy’s Massimo Bottura, Mexico’s Enrique Olvera and San Francisco’s Dominique Crenn, to discuss pressing sustainability matters. On the agenda: climate change, soil health, food waste, vertical indoor farming, institutional food service and local sourcing.
The Golden State may be a trailblazer on climate change solutions, but several states have passed healthy soils legislation, and many more are working on similar initiatives for 2020, says Myint, who could see other states developing their own versions of Restore California. “I started cooking because I believe restaurants can make the world a better place,” says Myint, who adds that becoming a parent seven years ago proved an impetus for exploring what chefs can do about climate change. “I still believe that’s true.”
“If even 1 percent of restaurants in California become part of this program, that would create as much as $10 million a year in funding for these farming practices, says Myint. “And if there’s no other major sea change in the industry except that every restaurant starts composting and restaurants pay for that to go back to the farms, that alone would be a game changer.”
On the Road, in the Sky
One of the most effective ways to begin thinking about how to reduce your carbon footprint is to reconsider how much, and how often, you travel.
In November 2017 carbon dioxide emissions from transportation surpassed emissions from electricity generation as the top source of greenhouse gases. Why? Electricity generation is shifting away from the use of coal to more renewable sources and natural gas.
Going carless for a year could save about 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide, according to 2017 study from researchers at Lund University and the University of British Columbia — that’s a little more than a roundtrip transatlantic flight. How can you stop using a car? Try taking a train, bus or better yet, ride a bike.
But let’s be realistic. You will likely need to use a car this year. So, when you do, here are some tips to make your trip more climate-friendly:
- Go easy on the gas and brakes — driving efficiently can help to reduce emissions. Drive “like you have an egg under your foot,” recommends Brian West, an expert in fuel and engine research from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which researches energy use and solutions in the United States.
- Regularly service your car to keep it more efficient.
- Check your tires. Keeping tires pumped correctly can reduce emissions. “Low tire pressure will hurt your fuel economy,” Mr. West said.
- Air conditioning and intensive city driving can make emissions creep up. Cut down on these as often as possible.
- Use cruise control on long drives — in most cases, this can help to save gas.
- Don’t weigh your car down with extra things that you don’t need on your trip.
- Carpool — this way, you’re splitting emissions between the number of people in the car.
Buying a New Car?
Shopping for a new car is a great opportunity to consider how you can reduce your personal carbon footprint. When choosing between gasoline, hybrid and electric, there are a number of factors to take into account, which will determine how “clean” your purchase is. The following can help:
- , where they are rated by efficiency.
- Think about where you will be charging up.How efficient hybrid and electric cars are also depends on what state you live in — different states rely on fossil fuels to different degrees.
- Weigh up both production and use emissions using this app. (Making electric cars has a carbon footprint, too.)
- Look for theSmart Waycertification.
- Remember: Cars with lower emissions can often end up costing less to operate.
Fly often? Taking one fewer long round-trip flight could shrink your personal carbon footprint significantly. Think about it this way: If you use public transportation often, and fly home to visit family just occasionally, your carbon footprint might still be relatively sustainable, but if you drive and fly a lot, your emissions will be higher.
If you can’t avoid flying, one way of making up for the emissions caused is to offset them by donating money to sustainable projects, such as supplying efficient stoves to rural homes, or projects which help farmers in India sell crop waste as biomass. Sometimes airlines will give you this option themselves, or you can use a third-party like Atmosfair or Terrapass. (You can calculate the emissions per flight here.)
More on Energy Efficient Travel
Flying Is Bad for the Planet. You Can Help Make It Better.
A Brighter Future for Electric Cars and the Planet
An App to Help Save Emissions (and Maybe Money) When Buying a Car
Your Biggest Carbon Sin May Be Air Travel
Some SF restaurants to introduce climate change surcharge
Some California restaurants may now start adding a surcharge to your bill that claims to help fight climate change.
Date: January 11, 2005
5 of 50 After: Neumayer Glacier shrinks on South Georgia Island
Date: September 14, 2016
7 of 50 Before: Shrinking glaciers in New Zealand
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8 of 50 After: Shrinking glaciers in New Zealand
Date: January 29, 2017
(no before image available) A preliminary image from NASA's Digital Mapping Service shows the new rift in the Petermann glacier.
11 of 50 Before: Exceptionally early ice melt, Greenland
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13 of 50 After: Exceptionally early ice melt, Greenland
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14 of 50 Before: Arctic ice
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17 of 50 Before: Early sea-ice breakup in Beaufort Sea, Arctic
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19 of 50 After: Early sea-ice breakup in Beaufort Sea, Arctic
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20 of 50 Before: Lake Mead at record low
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22 of 50 After: Lake Mead at record low
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23 of 50 Before: Flooding in Brazos River, Texas
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25 of 50 After: Flooding in Brazos River, Texas
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26 of 50 Before: Shrinking glaciers along western Antarctica
Date: February 18, 1975
28 of 50 After: Shrinking glaciers along western Antarctica
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29 of 50 Before: Vanishing glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana
Date: August 17, 1984
31 of 50 After: Vanishing glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana
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32 of 50 Before: Imja Glacier melt, Himalayas
34 of 50 After: Imja Glacier melt, Himalayas
35 of 50 Before: Shrinking Great Salt Lake, Utah
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37 of 50 After: Shrinking Great Salt Lake, Utah
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38 of 50 Before: Shrinking Ellesmere Island ice caps, Canada
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40 of 50 After: Shrinking Ellesmere Island ice caps, Canada
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41 of 50 Before: Pine Island Glacier calving, Antarctica
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43 of 50 After: Pine Island Glacier calving, Antarctica
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44 of 50 Before: Shrinking Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, Iceland
Date: September 16, 1986
46 of 50 After: Shrinking Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, Iceland
Date: September 20, 2014
47 of 50 Before: Helheim Glacier melt, Greenland
Date: May 12, 2001
49 of 50 After: Helheim Glacier melt, Greenland
Date: June 19, 2005
Starting this month, you might find a new surcharge tacked onto the bottom of your restaurant bill. However, it's only a 1 percent charge, and it's technically optional. If you choose to opt in, it purports to make your meal more climate-friendly: The charge will fund a new program called Restore California, which is managed by the nonprofit Zero Foodprint.
Restore California provides funding for farmers to build healthy soil, and more specifically funds "carbon farming projects such as compost application, cover crop planting, tree planting and improved grazing management," according to a press release. Zero Foodprint estimates that if a mere 1 percent of restaurants in California add the 1 percent surcharge, in a $97 billion restaurant industry, the program would generate nearly $10 million in the program's first year.
Restore California comes from Chef Anthony Myint and his partner Karen Leibowitz, co-founders of the restaurants Mission Chinese Food, Commonwealth, and the Perennial, according to Mother Jones. The Perennial, which had a mission to become a zero-footprint restaurant, closed early in 2019 after three years in business.
Every restaurant in California is invited to participate in Restore California, but so far, the list skews mostly upscale: Chez Panisse, Benu and Atelier Crenn, for example.
ZeroFoodPrint founder Anthony Myint, a chef-turned-activist, wants to activate restaurants to fight climate change
Some people take to the streets to change the world. Anthony Myint, best known as co-creator of famed Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco and a handful of other concepts , channels his passion for climate change through food.
In 2014, the chef, restaurateur and activist founded ZeroFoodprint, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps restaurant operators reduce their carbon footprint with the goal of reversing climate change . In just five years, ZeroFoodprint, has made serious headway activating the restaurant industry, getting dozens of restaurants around the country (and the world) to sign on — from Chez Panisse and Flour + Water in California to Barley Swine in Texas and Bresca in Washington, D.C. — and many more to commit to participating by 2020.
And support for Myint’s bold idea — that restaurants and their diners can be a powerful part of the climate solution — is growing.
In July, Myint was recognized for his climate change work with The Basque Culinary World Prize , a prestigious award for chefs making a positive impact outside their kitchens with a 100,000 Euro purse (about $112,000 USD).
Previously Myint modeled his carbon-neutral approach at his restaurant The Perennial in San Francisco, a hyper sustainable concept that closed in February after just three years.
Expect Myint to continue to try and mobilize even more — and bigger — restaurants to join the effort to, as the nonprofit’s tagline reads: “Unf%ck the Planet.”
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Under the accord, countries are trying to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.
However, the Earth is on track to warm up by 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, in the next two decades. And it could see temperatures rise over 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, this century without global action.
Flavio Lehner, a climate scientist and assistant professor of earth and atmospheric science at Cornell University, said that while it's ambitious, Biden's pledge is likely not enough to reach targets under the Paris accord. Global temperature rise also depends largely on what other countries pledge in the next decade.
"Many climate impacts scale almost linearly with warming, so reducing emissions as fast as possible has to remain a key sustained motivation for this and future administrations, irrespective of a particular warming target," Lehner said.