Upfront: Global leadership

Marin coalition unites to solve climate change

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The Marin County Bicycle Coalition is one of 40 organizations in Marin set to participate in the Time to Lead on Climate forum on November 9. Photo courtesy of MCBC.

By Joseph Mayton

Editor’s note: This story is under review following reports of challenges to the veracity of Joseph Mayton’s reporting for other publications.

Time to Lead on Climate, an upcoming climate forum in San Rafael, aims to bring together dozens of organizations, NGOs and others to create a unified front in what organizers and partners describe as a monumental effort for the Bay Area—and Marin county, in particular—to lead on climate issues.

“We have been very active on climate change action in Marin,” says Belle Cole of Organizing For Action (OFA) Marin, one of the lead sponsors for the November 9 event at Dominican University.

Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael, says that the event shows that the county and the state of California are “leading the way to real­ world climate solutions.” The event in Marin is part of the lead­up to the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11) and the American election campaign season. “It’s time for everyone to support global solutions and to make sure that climate is a deciding issue in all our political discussions,” Carney says.

Cole says that 40 Marin County organizations—among them, the Marin Conservation League, Sustainable Marin, MCE Clean Energy and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition—have signed up to join the Time to Lead on Climate forum and that diversity is a reflection of the growing desire to make serious changes to the status quo in order to advance climate efforts on the grassroots level. She added that the large amount of support helps the “effectiveness in working as a team in making this event happen.”

“We thought, let us take advantage of the convergence of the UN Summit on climate in Paris, elections on the horizon, Governor Brown’s climate leadership, the Pope’s moral imperative as well as Marin’s climate know­how and receptiveness to climate and environmental reform to confer with climate leaders on how best to solve climate change,” continues Cole.

While climate change issues have sparked much media attention over the past few years, a renewed effort from grassroots organizations and concerned citizens has been growing, from massive rallies to smaller conferences aimed at educating communities on the need to be aware of how humans are helping to change the Earth’s atmosphere and causing global warming.

Cole and others in Marin believe that the time for action is now. NASA reports that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate­ warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” The Time to Lead forum is a local effort to unite organizations for a common cause.

Jody Timms, the chair of the Divest­-Invest campaign at 350Marin, says that the event reflects the care for the planet that citizens of Marin have. “Climate change affects every single one of us the world over and we are doing our part to urge local, national and global leaders to step up and follow the will of the people.”

For 350Marin, keeping fossil fuels in the ground is key to the success of stemming and reversing carbon emission trends. “We need a renewable revolution,” adds Timms.

Carney agrees, saying that Marin has shown itself to be a leader in giving its residents the opportunity to live with clean energy. “The governor just signed a bill calling for half our energy to come from renewable sources in 15 years,” Carney says. “And Marin residents can already choose 100 percent clean energy. We’re building a whole new green economy based on that foundation of clean energy. We’re showing the way to a sane climate future.”

Marin School of Environmental Leadership teacher Jesse Madsen believes that the present moment is arguably the most important in the global struggle for efforts to combat climate change. Madsen argues that with the Time to Lead on Climate forum, local communities can have a large part in the greater context of the global discussion on climate issues.

The conference, Madsen says, “allows Marin leaders to unify in message and direction, setting the stage for Marin to be a climate leader on a global scale.”

Being a part of the conference, which has presented an opportunity to learn from and collaborate with local environmental leaders, has been inspiring and rejuvenating for Madsen. “My hope is that the event is not the end of this collaboration, but the beginning of a wider movement that is inclusive of all people, as all of us will feel the impacts of climate change and all of us have a responsibility to act.”

SolEd Benefit Corp CEO David Kunhardt of the Citizens Climate Lobby understands the need for action. “2015 is on track to being the hottest year in recorded history, the oceans are absorbing even more heat and acidity,” Kunhardt says. “California has experienced the worst drought in 1,000 years, forest fires and now is expecting a record El Niño winter, all consequences of climate disruption by greenhouse gases.”

For him, the Time to Lead on Climate forum is an important moment for Marin and local communities across the country aiming to band together in an effort to spur change.

“It is the perfect time for citizen activists to step up and say, ‘It is time to lead on climate,’” Kunhardt says.

The world is waiting to see what transpires in Paris, and the international community is again hopeful that a new climate agreement could help create even more efforts to understand the root causes of changing climates and carbon emissions in order to establish agreed-upon reductions by all countries across the planet. But in Marin, that effort is already underway, and sponsors, organizers and supporters alike believe that this county can be a leader on the local, state and national level in creating the belief that change can happen.

Time to Lead on Climate; Monday, November 9, 7pm to 9pm; Angelico Hall, 20 Olive Ave., Dominican University, San Rafael; leadonclimate.org.

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