U.S. Transformative Action Projects on Stage at COP21

IMG_1464Today in Paris, four transformative U.S. climate projects took stage at COP21.  Moderated by ICLEI USA Efficiency and Renewables Director, Angie Fyfe, the panel included Boulder Colorado’s  resilience project and three California projects: transport in Santa Monica, Community Choice Aggregation of renewables in Richmond, and carbon sequestration in San Francisco.

The “Big Blue Bus Electrification” program seeks to transform Santa Monica’s bus fleet that was formerly powered by fracked natural gas, and is currently powered by landfill natural gas to a fully electric and emission free fleet. Mayor Kevin McKeown of Santa Monica, California emphasized the challenges cities face reducing GHG emissions and keeping them down despite city growth.  In addition, the program will reduce noise pollution, promote cleaner air and mitigate rising fuel costs.

CEO of Marin Clean Energy, Dawn Weisz presented a project that began with ICLEI supported GHG inventory in the 1990s. The Community Choice Aggregation project empowers local governments to work together as the generation provider and decide where to buy renewable energy (RE). This allows communities to unhook from fluctuating prices of fossil fuels. Thus far the initiative has creates 2,400 new jobs in California and customers are getting twice as much RE while saving on cost.

Mayor Matthew Applebaum of Boulder, Colorado aims to “build redundancy in our systems, and places for people to go in the event of disasters” and create “distributed resilience” with the Safe Haven Resilience Network. Safe havens will serve as these places for citizens to go in the event of disaster but also give opportunity to test new systems: micro-grids powered by suite of RE systems with battery back-up. “The goal is to demonstrate that it is possible in Boulder, and then to spread it around the USA and around the world if possible,” said Mayor Applebaum. 

And finally, Deborah Raphael, Director of the Department of Environment for the City of San Francisco, CA and Calla Rose Ostrander, Jena & Michael King Foundation shared how the city of San Francisco will conduct natural-based carbon sequestration with one-time application of half inch compost. The soil would sequester carbon and hold it for 7 years. This program will also allow the soil to hold more water do address drought and flooding risks and produced better grass overall.