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Cool Davis: working on local solutions to climate change

By From page OID15 | September 22, 2013

By Nick Buxton

When it comes to climate change, you can hear a lot of excuses or fine talk from the world’s political leaders, but usually little practical action. It can be dispiriting given the consequences we know could result. Fortunately, Davis is a community that does not indulge in despair. Rather, it believes in proactively looking for solutions that lower our community’s carbon footprint and intends to model the kind of change we need at the national and international level.

In 2010, the city of Davis adopted a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan that committed the city to reduce carbon by 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2015. It also was the first city in California, perhaps the United States, to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. A community-led initiative, Cool Davis, was set up to work toward those goals.

Cool Davis has become a household name thanks to the active involvement of residents, students, businesses and nonprofit groups across the city. Nearly 60 community organizations have joined its coalition and more than 1,000 residents have signed pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cool Davis organizes a whole host of creative projects and fun events throughout the year with its partners that include many local sustainable initiatives from the work of the Davis Bicycles! campaign to the Farm to School program. Its annual flagship festival — this year on Oct. 12 in Davis’ Central Park — has become a “must-attend” event for showcasing many of these initiatives.

Cool Davis has benefited a great deal from its close relationship with sustainability pioneers in UC Davis. Researchers at the university have worked with the campaign to develop strategies to make Davis a “zero carbon” city. Students also have played an active role in supporting the campaign’s goals within the university. They have initiated many of the city’s green initiatives over the years, from the Unitrans bus system to Project Compost.

The result of all this hard work led to Davis being declared California’s “coolest city” by the state Air Resources Board in June 2013 after 450 Davis households participated in a race to cut emissions with eight other cities. UC Davis, meanwhile, beat 95 colleges and universities to win the coveted No. 1 Cool School by Sierra Magazine for 2012-13.

Cool Davis is gearing up for its most ambitious campaign yet in 2014, looking to engage and support 75 percent of Davis households in reducing carbon emissions. The reality of climate change and the high carbon lifestyle in the U.S. means we have much to do to make Davis truly sustainable. The campaign will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in three areas: home energy use, transportation and consumption habits.

The campaign will be successful only if lots of people get involved. There are a whole range of committees and groups you can get involved in based on your interests and skills. Those who have the gift of the gab can join the Community Outreach Team; musicians and artists are needed in the Creative Fun Team; avid Facebookers will find a home with the Communications Team; and statisticians and number crunchers please join the Data Management team.

There really is something for everyone! Getting involved enables you to meet people across Davis committed to both our city and the planet we live on. As one resident, Cindy Dirkx, put it: “Cool Davis embodies my own ideal of community responsiveness to our changing world. Smart, engaging and caring people who believe we can move toward a sustainable world and who are acting on that belief.”

Find out more:
* Cool Davis website — http://www.cooldavis.org
* Cool Davis volunteer opportunities — http://www.cooldavis.org/volunteer
* City of Davis Climate Action Work — http://community-development.cityofdavis.org/sustainability-and-open-space-conservation/
* Davis Climate Action Advocacy Group — www.davisclimateaction.org
* UC Davis Sustainability work — http://sustainability.ucdavis.edu
* Fossil Free UC Davis (student campaign): https://www.facebook.com/FossilFreeUCDavis

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