Pulling together to help meet our climate goals – Marin Independent Journal

Climate change is such a big problem that it can make us feel helpless and alone.

But if the past decade has taught me anything, it’s that we are neither of those things. We can and do make a difference in reducing climate change and preparing for its impacts.

In 2011, I started a pilot that eventually grew into Resilient Neighborhoods, a program to help Marin households cut their carbon footprint, live more sustainably, and build resilience. Now a decade later, I was proud beyond measure when we tallied the annual carbon dioxide pounds reduced by our latest graduating team and found that the total reduced by all our teams exceeded 10 million pounds of greenhouse gas per year.

Are we helpless? Absolutely not. That huge reduction is the equivalent of 1,375 Marin homes switching to solar and wind power, instead of burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change. That is why the Resilient Neighborhoods program is incorporated into all our cities’ climate action plans. It’s also an endorsed solution of MarinCan, the county’s program aiming to reduce Marin’s net gas greenhouse emissions below zero by 2045, meeting the United Nations’ goal five years early.

San Rafael’s Sustainability Manager Cory Bytof is a supporter.

“Resilient Neighborhoods is the most impactful program I know of,” Bytof said. “The actions people take in these workshops really make a measurable difference in helping municipalities meet their climate goals.”

Our successful behavior-change program works because 75% of Marin’s greenhouse gas emissions come from residents — from our daily choices about how we heat and cool our homes, how we get around, what we eat and whether we put compostables in our green carts.

Are we alone in confronting climate change? Absolutely not. More than 1,880 people have graduated from Resilient Neighborhoods so far and I feel like we’re just getting started, because concern about the climate crisis is growing.

We see it in the wildfires and smoke that darken our skies for weeks each summer and fall, in the droughts that kill trees and threaten wildlife, in intensifying floods and in the record heat waves that force us to shelter inside.

More people are ready to start taking household actions to address the climate crisis. For example, Marin’s Rotary clubs are joining in and challenging members to reduce 1 million pounds of carbon dioxide this year through the program. So far, Ignacio, Novato, Terra Linda, Ross Valley, San Rafael, San Rafael Evening and San Rafael Harbor Rotary Clubs are participating.

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