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Global Greens

Former Green Party mayor ties campaign to ‘encourage’ cities
to face climate change with local election battles of the future?

By Crescenzo Velluci

CONTRA COSTA – A former Green Party mayor here is targeting every city in this county to participate in a campaign to promote public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change. And she says that future city elections will have a lot to do with how cities react.

Lynda Deschambault, past mayor of Moraga, launched the campaign, which now has 15 of 19 cities in the County (Concord, Clayton, San Pablo and Pleasant Hill are not on board yet) participating.

"It is more important than ever that local advocates support, encourage and hold our elected local decision makers accountable to making critical policy decisions,” said Deschambault, who is executive director of the project, part of the nonprofit Generation Green. Since its inception in 1990, Generation Green has informed citizens and encouraged environmental action in Contra Costa County. Two other Generation Green projects include the Dumpster Diversion Project which is working to recycle materials through art and education and the Green Rheem Movie night, an environmental documentary film series with local food and wine on the 2nd Thursday of each month.

"Although some may be surprised to see so many cities in this sometimes conservative county taking such a strong stand on this topic, it is important to keep in mind that as city budgets continue to tighten, energy efficiency and cost cutting sustainability measures are a mainstream way of doing city business and saving money,” Deschambault said.

The cities have agreed to participate in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign (www.iclei.org). As a participant, each city pledges to take a leadership role in promoting public awareness about the causes and impacts of climate change. Each city will conduct a greenhouse gas inventory, set goals, and write a climate action plan to address opportunities for reducing Greenhouse gas emissions.

A baseline inventory provides a city with an overview of its emissions and allows for tracking success, said Deschambault. Equipped with these inventories in hand, each city will individually discuss, review and address their quantified energy related emissions in their city.

Deschambault explains that the inventory is all inclusive of activities within a city’s boundaries and calculates emissions from all facilities and all sources. Electricity, water, garbage, miles traveled…all of these have associated CO2 emissions, which will be included in the city reports.

Why Contra Costa County, an expansive county geographically located near San Francisco? According to Deschambault, statistics indicate that the Contra Costa contribution is significant to the health and well being of the Bay Area as a whole.

"The CCC emission rate in tons/person is the highest of all the Bay Area counties. Our population is significant in size (1 million as compared to Alameda’s 1.4 million). The growth rate of CCC (8 percent) is much higher than the other counties and higher than California as a whole (6 percent),” said the Green. Deschambault said Generation Green provides local decision-makers with a monthly newsletter, quarterly workshops, and a website for cities to share best practices. www.cccclimateleaders.org.