Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Climate Mayors Open Webinars to Public, Oakland’s City Fleet Runs on Recycled Cooking Oil, Interior Greenlights 350MW Desert Solar Farm

by | May 19, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Meet Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, plus Climate Mayors webinars open to public. Oakland’s city fleet celebrates two years running on recycled cooking oil, and Interior green lights a 350MW solar farm in California desert.



In America, white, evangelical Protestants remain uniquely skeptical of climate change. According to a 2019 study by the Public Religion Research Institute, only 33 percent of that faith group believe that climate change is the result of human activity, and 37 percent do not believe that climate change is happening at all. But as undeniable evidence has piled up to the contrary, expecting evangelical youth to ignore or deny this existential threat to their futures has, for some, proved a bridge too far. It’s one thing to be instructed to consider natural selection a “theory,” it’s another entirely to be asked to ignore your species’ own destruction of itself.

Cameron Kritikos, 26, a student at Yale Divinity school who also works with the Climate Witness Project within the Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church says, “Christians in other countries are living the experience of displacement and not being able to grow their crops because of climate change. I often hear from others who are doing development work, ‘Y’all in the U.S. are the only Christians who are having conversations about whether climate change exists.’ ”

Being a climate change christian can be a lonely place. The Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA) was founded in 2012 to address that issue. In 2014, it launched its Fellows Program on college campuses, starting  with four fellows in three states; now there are 28 fellows on 18 campuses in 12 states. Thousands have signed the YECA call-to-action pledge, and more than 25,000 young people have performed at least one of its “actions,” from starting an environmentalism club at their school to launching a recycling campaign at their church to advocating for legislation with their elected officials.

DEEPER DIVE: YECA, Rolling Stone, Yahoo!, Sojourners



Climate Mayors, the network of 453 U.S. mayors committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement, completed the fourth in a recent virtual speaker series entitled, “Climate Mayors National Dialogues on Green and Equitable Recovery”.  The series advocates for national leadership to prioritize recovery policies that are environmentally sustainable and socially just in the time of COVID-19.

Each event featured Climate Mayors and other leaders from a specific U.S. region, as well as like-minded institutions, partners, and policy makers discussing successful local climate initiatives driving a just, equitable, and resilient economic recovery. They also shared how their sustainability policies prioritize frontline communities and communities of color — people more likely to be affected by pollution and the negative impacts of climate change.

“When the COVID-19 crisis ends, we must heed the lessons of this moment in our recovery –– placing communities hit hardest by this pandemic on the path to a more just, sustainable, and healthy future,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chair and co-founder of Climate Mayors. 

This fourth panel featured mayors and subject matter experts from America’s Great Lakes Region. The discussions were recorded and are available to watch online at



Happy Second anniversary to the City of Oakland, who teamed up with Neste, a Finnish waste cooking oil recycler company and fuel distributor Western States Oil back in 2019 to gather waste cooking oils from restaurants and other businesses in the Oakland metropolitan area and convert it to fuel the city’s fleet.

By making waste more valuable and supporting jobs that collect and treat it, this concept helps the local economy in the city while the cleaner-burning Neste MY Renewable Diesel improves the lives of its residents by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s ambulances, buses and trucks.

“Oakland is a proud leader in protecting our environment and practicing the highest levels of sustainability,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “This bold move will give our residents cleaner air, and it takes us one important step forward in our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Switching from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel automatically converted the City’s oldest and dirtiest polluting vehicles into alternative fuel vehicles – overnight and with no additional costs,” Oakland Public Works Director Jason Mitchell said.

How’s the project going? Well Neste collected 750,000 pounds of used cooking oil within the first three months of the new system. In two years, that total has risen to 6 million pounds of cooking oil diverted from landfills and other solid waste processing facilities.



The federal Bureau of Land Management has given final approval for a solar power plant on public lands in the southeastern California desert, the Interior Department announced in a statement last week. This new major solar energy project will be called the Crimson Solar Project.

Sonoran West Solar Holdings LLC will build the $550 million, 350-megawatt plant on approximately 2,000 acres of the Bureau’s administered lands about 13 miles west of the Riverside County community of Blythe. Once completed, the project will have the capacity to power some 87,500 homes in the area. The Crimson Solar Project will also be capable of storing that same amount of energy—350MW–to generate and deliver power via the Southern California Edison Colorado River Substation.

The approval comes amid President Joe Biden’s plans to fight climate change, with a goal of 100% renewable energy in the power sector by 2035. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said, “The time for a clean energy future is now. We must make bold investments that will tackle climate change and create good-paying American jobs.”

The project will employ 650 people for its construction, keeping 10 permanent, and 40 temporary positions once it’s built for the duration of its 30-year lifetime.

DEEPER DIVE: Interesting Engineering, IEEFA, The Hill