In early October, county residents overflowed the Marin Showcase Theatre in Northern California for Drawdown: Marin. Their purpose: to launch a campaign to put Marin County at the forefront of California’s efforts to reverse global warming by creating a carbon-free community.
County Supervisor Damon Connolly greeted those gathered with the core question, “What part will you play?”
“We mean it when we say we are all in this together,” said Connolly. “Government cannot do this alone. Individuals cannot stop climate change alone. Businesses cannot single-handedly reduce climate change. Coming together as a community will pay for itself in many ways.”
And the impacts of climate change, he said, “are not an abstraction.” Indeed, a few weeks before the event, the nation watched as record-breaking hurricanes ravaged southeastern regions, prompting cities to double-down on climate action. A few weeks after the event, the nation watched again as record-breaking wildfires ravaged California wine country, polluting western regions with smoke, toxins and greenhouse gases. Climate change makes hurricanesand wildfires much worse, and the resulting loss of equilibrium makes climate change much worse. So goes a vicious cycle.
As the evening played out, I felt heightened energy in the room — perhaps even a sense of relief by what local leaders expressed so directly. Already feeling “woke” about climate change, those gathered were offered an extra jolt of coffee.
So, have a look at Marin County. More importantly, urge communities everywhere to wake up and smell the coffee. Or increasingly they may wake up to smell the smoke.
Climate leadership in Marin
Key to Marin’s climate leadership legacy is Marin Clean Energy, the state’s first Community Choice Aggregation energy option. “MCE allows everyone to opt for up to 100 percent renewable energy” while also providing a model for others in the state, said Connolly.
Marin County was one of the first jurisdictions in the state to adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP). Dana Armanino, a sustainability planner for Marin County, outlined the robust goal for 2020 it had set in its CAP. After achieving it eight years early, the county set it again with a more ambitious target.
“2020 is coming down the road, so it will be time to plan for 2030,” said Armanino. “We will re-examine our process. [It may] be more of a living thing.” Meanwhile, it is on track to reach the state goal of CO2 levels 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Marin also has outlined five pillars of action which residents can take — “right now,” “next” and “then.” Pillars include: 100 percent renewable power; transportation; energy efficiency; local food and carbon sequestration; and climate resilient communities. Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears, program champion and event host, said, “We must take action… in our home, in our businesses and in the vehicles we drive. Each of us is the activist and the innovator.”
Marin County high-school activists involved in the I Matter youth movement and the Generation Our Climate youth activist group also took the stage to describe the projects they are working on, and to urge their communities to do more. “These people are our future… and already they are our leaders,” Sears said. “To protect the future of young people, we must act boldly and must act now.”
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Communities Rise up to Draw down on Carbon, by Sue Lebeck, GreenBiz, October 31, 2017.