Time is up.
We have twelve years for every level of society to make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” to avoid disastrous levels of climate change. This instruction was made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) in a new report released this week.
It’s impossible to not look at my three year old daughter and ask: “What world have we left for her and her generation?”
We are talking about billions of lives at stake. We are talking about half the world’s population without water to drink. We are talking about a special kind of hell for our children and their children who will have to juggle countless climate-caused wars and crises fueled by famine, drought, and floods.
We have to transform life as we know it. Emissions need to be cut in half from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to keep the warming around 1.5 degrees C. While this is physically possible, it is unprecedented and will require widespread changes in energy, industry, and cities.
As the Executive Director of a small environmental nonprofit that focuses on the minutiae of hyperlocal land use decisions I have to think about our role. We have made the seemingly impossible happen at the local level for decades, so the answer is fairly simple: get to work.
Looking ahead, the people of Committee for Green Foothills will do our part by:
- Protecting landscapes that soak up carbon. In order to get to carbon-neutral, we must store as much atmospheric carbon as is naturally possible while dramatically reducing emissions. Open space and natural resources are a carbon sink and pull carbon from the atmosphere for free every day (assuming we steward them and they aren’t on fire). San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez has said, “We must protect open space so that it can protect us.”
- Keeping new development from being approved in path of sea level rise. We need to be spending our public dollars investing in the fight against climate change, not saving luxury hotels and massive office complexes from flooding when they should never have been approved in the first place. If there is data telling us that a project will be underwater in a matter of decades, it should not be approved.
- Training community leaders as we go. Our badass brilliant advocates on staff will protect our region’s open space and we will do it with the community behind us. We will train people how to leverage the political process to impact change and our campaigns will ensure that decision makers, developers, and private companies who who act in accordance with the instructions set out by the IPCC when making decisions will be celebrated for their leadership.
Committee for Green has been an advocate against climate change all along. So – to our volunteers, donors, staff, friends, and partners of Committee for Green Foothills – let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work. Our kids are depending on it.