Bridging the Carbon Gap: Marin County's Visionary Community.
Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Marin County, California, a sea change is underway. I feel fortunate to be a part of this vibrant community, that takes pride in its efforts to preserve its natural heritage and combat climate change. With a robust network of agencies dedicated to land preservation, restoration, and carbon reduction initiatives, Marin County stands as a beacon of sustainable progress.
At the heart of Marin's sustainability journey is its landmark community choice electric company, MCE. Through MCE, residents have the opportunity to opt for energy plans that source between 50% to 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. This easy accessibility to renewable energy is a powerful tool for individuals to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, forging a cleaner and greener future. MCE's partnership with PG&E has further streamlined the process, making it even more convenient for residents to choose 100% renewable energy.
Marin's commitment to sustainability positions it as a frontrunner in the race to become the first carbon-neutral county in the United States—a race that holds immense significance for the entire nation. By setting an example of effective land preservation and emissions reduction strategies, Marin County paves the way for other counties, cities, states, and even countries to emulate. The county has not only demonstrated the economic viability of such initiatives but has also fostered unconventional collaborations and partnerships to achieve its goals.
One prominent organization leading the way for the past 52 years was the Environmental Forum of Marin (EFM) has come to an end in 2023. I was a grateful a graduate in 2019. Through educational programs and advocacy, EFM nurtured a new generation of advocates and activists, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to forge a path toward long-term sustainability. By highlighting the intersection of science, art, and community partnerships, EFM has successfully garnered broad support and achieved tangible outcomes. Their inclusive approach recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings, including plants and animals, in the quest for environmental preservation.
We are all imdebted to EFM's renowned founder Marty Griffin for conceiving the idea to create a cadre of well-informed people who could go out and speak about environmental issues. We are also grateful to our founding teachers Nona Dennis, Kathy Cuneo, and the late Phyllis Faber who stayed with the program and continued to volunteer their time teaching for so many years.
The roots of this stewardship culture can be traced back to the 1960s when a few forward-thinking individuals envisioned a legacy that would endure for future generations. Their seminal report, "The Economic Impact of a Regional Open Space Program," remains revered to this day, laying the foundation for policies that protect invaluable areas such as Richardsons Bay, The Bolinas Lagoon, Tennessee Valley, Canyon Ranch, and Point Reyes. The Environmental Forum of Marin has further inspired preservation programs like the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), which expands the county's open space parcels. Their commitment to accountability and inter-agency collaboration ensures that multiple stakeholders contribute to the shared vision. This work was seminal in establishing inter agency collaboration and vision, while bringing concerned citizens together with a common over arching mission to protect the environment and the wilderness around us.
The significance of agency collaboration becomes even more evident through initiatives like One Tam. By engaging multiple California agencies alongside the Marin Municipal Water District, the National and California State Parks Agencies, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the community demonstrated a unified commitment to protect the coastal corridor. Recognizing that wildlife and environmental challenges transcend borders, these inter-agency efforts aim to safeguard the area's diverse plant and animal species, many of which are endangered. Through comprehensive inventories, species protection measures, and collaborations with volunteers and nonprofits like the Audubon Society and the Parks Conservancy, the vision set forth in the Yosemite land grant of 1864—preserving wonders for future generations—remains steadfast.
In 2019, The Environmental Forum of Marin gathered representatives from various agencies, facilitating a deeper understanding of their roles, challenges, and potential avenues for collaboration. One Tam, in particular, seeks to unite the efforts of five California agencies with a shared vision that transcends boundaries. Their commitment to community building and collaboration, despite the challenges involved, serves as a landmark strategy that should guide communities worldwide toward a common destination of carbon-neutral living and land preservation—supporting what I refer to as a restorative economy.
Marin County's dedication to conservation is further reinforced by local commitments and resources. Measures such as Prop 13 and Measure A provide locally generated public financing to support preservation efforts and protect the Wildland Urban Interface. With 39 formal partners involved and an astounding 470,000 volunteer hours, Marin County truly sets an example on a global scale. Marin county and Marin Cities have Claimate Action Plans (CAP) that set out to inventory and monitor reductions to achieve and exceed California's Climate Action Mandates.
Recognized globally for its conservation efforts, Marin County continues to shine as a lighthouse, illuminating the path for other communities seeking inter-species inclusion and robust restorative practices. Notably, the county has made significant commitments to community choice electricity, electrified transportation fleets, and local food systems, all aimed at fostering a healthier community with improved air and food quality. These commitments to our atmosphere and future generations underscore Marin's dedication to sustainable progress.
Drawing from the principles of Drawdown Marin, the county's community-wide campaign targets five key areas that can have a substantial impact on reducing carbon emissions. From transitioning to 100% renewable energy and embracing low-carbon transportation to promoting energy efficiency, supporting local food systems, and implementing carbon sequestration practices, Marin County leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of climate resilience.
In a world where communities face the daunting challenges of climate change, Marin County stands as a testament to what can be achieved through collective action and unwavering commitment. As we witness the transformative efforts taking shape within this remarkable community, we are reminded of the power we hold to shape a sustainable and resilient future.
These agencies have al been challenged by less engagement during and after the Covid- 19 Pandemic and it is essential that we rekindle the fires of inspiration to carry on with Climate Action. What we do here sets the precident for global climate action.
For more information on Drawdown Marin is now MarinCAn and how you can actively contribute to reducing carbon emissions, visit their website: MarinCan