Davis, Calif., is joining other American cities in a race towards carbon neutrality. The city with a population over 65,000 was the first to introduce bike lanes and climate-specific energy efficiency ordinance.
Teaming up with David Gershon (Earth Run organizer and author of Social Change 2.0), Davis is striving to be carbon neutral by mid-century, using the State of California’s 20 percent reduction goal as its starting point. The short-term target is also ambitious: cut the community’s emissions by 50 percent by the year 2013.
Organizers hope that with the “Cool Davis” campaign, up to 75 percent of Davis residents will participate by going on Gershon’s “Low Carbon Diet,” a 30-day program designed to help households shed 5,000 pounds of carbon. This program works by encouraging average households to tailor a carbon diet to their unique family dynamic by implementing a range of straightforward actions.
Community support will be available in the form of peer-support groups called “Eco-Teams.”
Pilot programs in other cities using the Low Carbon Diet have already been deemed successful and have proved that a reduction of 5,500 pounds per household is possible. Other cool communities across the States have reduced emissions by up to 35 percent in a matter of months, an achievement that Davis would love to build on.
At a state level, Massachusetts implemented Cool Mass, with several cities participating representing almost a million of the states residents. In Portland the goal of cutting emissions by 10 percent was almost doubled, with an actual reduction of 22 percent, or 6,700 pounds.
According to Gershon:
We have proof of a concept and the means to scale it up. When it comes to cutting carbon, the action is at the local level, and the city of Davis is leading the way. Since half of America’s carbon footprint is at the residential level, Cool Community campaigns are a powerful and doable way for America to get on a low carbon path.
Davis’ sustainability director, Mitch Sears, is confident that embracing Gershon’s low carbon diet will have positive rewards for the community. He says that Gershon’s approach is one of the most cost-effective ways to implement a carbon reduction project into the city, and stands a high chance of success because 75 percent of greenhouse gases come from residential sources in Davis.
Davis has a proud history of environmental innovation and participation. It was the first city to introduce bike lanes (and t is dubbed the “best bicycle town” in America) and it boasts the country’s top-rated year round farmer’s market.
It was also the first city to adopt an ordinance that required energy efficiency tailored to the local climate. This local law went on to influence California’s Title 24, the first state law of its kind in America.
Article by Kate R. appearing courtesy Celsias.