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On April 23, 2019, a new climate change initiative has been launched through diners and restaurants around California.

California Climate Change Initiative

Starting last Tuesday, a client’s bill in participating eateries around the state has an optional 1% surcharge to fund the Restore California Renewable Restaurant program. The additional charge remains voluntary for both the owners and customers. The proceeds can help achieve the mission of the program, which is hosted by the Perennial Farming Initiative in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board, the State’s Food and Agricultural Department and 3 Degrees Inc.

The goal of the initiative is to source a healthy soil carbon fund that supports sustainable, organic farming practices around the state of California.

The goal of the initiative is to source a healthy soil carbon fund that supports sustainable, organic farming practices around the state of California. The proceeds of the program will go to the California Air Resources Board (the Board), the state’s air regulator, which will distribute the money to farmers and ranchers that file a carbon farm plan and implement environment-friendly practices for a healthier soil and harvest. As incentive, the Board compensates a farmer or rancher $10 per ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere. With this, Anthony Myint, the founder of the Perennial Farming Initiative, hopes that farmers and ranchers will avoid relying heavily on expensive chemicals and fertilizers that are detrimental not just to the environment but to people’s health.

In Myint’s own restaurant, the popular Mission Chinese in San Francisco, an additional 3% carbon neutral surcharge is billed to clients who willingly donate to the climate change fund. He has been doing this for six months already and has raised nearly $20,000 since then. If several restaurants partake, then a million dollars could be raised annually. To drive engagement and patronage to the participating diners, owners can freely display the Restaurant California logo in their establishments, on websites or any social media platforms.

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Several restaurants have signed up for carbon neutral programs to help lessen their carbon footprint while driving operational efficiency. However, farming is behind in enforcing sustainable practices to organic and renewable farming. This is the missing link in creating an environment-friendly supply chain for the food service industry. The carbon neutral program should start from food production across all farms and ranches, and continue to food processors like restaurants down to the end consumers. With the Restore California program, the state can create a renewable food system that is not just healthy but also favorable to the environment. This can be a big game changer beneficial for the Earth initiated in CA, and for all states and nations to emulate.

This program adds to a list of initiatives implemented by the state of California. The state has been implementing sustainable projects that help mitigate the effects of climate change, and reduce carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Board, the state had zero stage 1 & 2 smog alerts in 2016, as compared to 239 cases in 1967, and 90% of black carbon has been eliminated since 1967. Among the current goals of the state is to reduce petroleum use by 50% in vehicles and to use electricity from 100% clean sources by 2045.

The additional 1% optional surcharge will be billed in restaurants statewide starting this fall. Nevertheless, restaurateurs are welcome to impose the new line item in their receipts earlier. Whether you are a lawyer, a lifesaver course provider, a student or a foodie, you have an option to contribute to an environment-friendly cause.

Jessica Davison