This post is excerpted from our campaign site, SF Gas Ban. Click here to read the full article.
Communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis are increasingly coming to terms with the reality that current federal and state governments have no tangible plan to deliver us from climate evil.
Though presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders proffer exceptional justice-oriented climate policies, even under the best of circumstances we are at least three years out from achieving a national political environment conducive to a habitable planet. At the same time, we are already two years into the twelve-year window for climate action, without having achieved much.
While there is some virtue in tending one’s own garden, cities that have declared climate emergency are acting now knowing full well that they alone cannot turn the tide; a city with zero emissions makes a negligible dent on the global crisis.
Instead, advocates believe that a single city’s legislative resolve against fossil fuel and environmental injustice might cause dominos to fall in other cities, bolstering a larger movement to drag, shame and compel higher legislative bodies with more authority and resources to do what must be done in the precious interim.
In this way, the climate emergency is, in theory, the opposite of the fossil fuel industry’s calling card: denial.
In addition, just as the United States is responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions and is ethically bound to lead in reducing emissions as compared to less profligate and wealthy countries, it stands to reason that cities of vast wealth and consumption, such as San Francisco, ought to respond accordingly.
Continue reading at our campaign site, SF Gas Ban
I recently met with a group fervently advocating their key climate solution. Wonderful! Along the way though, they started dismissing other parts of the puzzle with comments like “Oh, that will take care of itself.” It made me think.
It’s time to stop expecting other (issues, projects, people) to take care of themselves. It’s time to consciously take care of each other. As Project Drawdown so clearly shows, our goal cannot be achieved by either-or thinking— we have to say yes to a multitude of important solutions. Additionally, the IPCC suggests that maintaining a livable world actually relies on cooperation, and solving the problems of inequality and poverty.
“Pathways that are consistent with sustainable development show fewer mitigation and adaptation challenges and are associated with lower mitigation costs. The large majority of modelling studies could not construct pathways characterized by lack of international cooperation, inequality and poverty that were able to limit global warming to 1.5°C.” (D.6.3, 2018 report)
Project Drawdown and the IPCC report what is essential for global solutions. In San Francisco, we have an opportunity to show that this works on the smaller scale. There are so many projects among which explicitly highlighting their connections can lead to more streamlined and more successful outcomes. For instance,
So how do we make this grand coordination happen? It’s not about anyone dropping what’s important to them in order to “be part of the team.” Most of us can make the biggest impact in the areas we’re passionate about. Still, even Olympic sprinters benefit from having their swimmer team-mates cheering them on. And the most brilliant quantum physicist can’t do any research without the efforts of those who built the particle accelerator. In the same way, the call for each real remedy to our climate crisis is amplified when others say, “That’s important to me too. These solutions go together.”
Why not celebrate these triumphs of community, through community? We don’t need to silo ourselves. We can reach out, cheer each other on, answer each others’ questions and get answers to our own, and help elevate the voices that should be heard in the halls of power.
My hope for a better future lies in our common cause.
--Helena, Steering Committee member
The Year in Review 2019: San Francisco’s Grassroots Campaign for Rapid and Equitable Building Decarbonization
This post originally appeared on the SF Gas Ban campaign site.
This website was launched as part of a grassroots movement to push San Francisco’s elected officials to ban natural gas in all new San Francisco buildings and to enact legislation to see that all existing buildings are equitably and justly retrofitted to run on low-carbon electricity. These demands are born out of the necessity of confronting gross inaction in the face of a spiraling human-caused climate crisis. Buildings represent a significant share of local, state and national greenhouse emissions gases.
2019 was a landmark year for the building decarbonization movement in California and beyond. For example:
As encouraging as these developments were, the sobering reality of climate science commands much more aggressive action on buildings and other sectors at the local, state, national and international levels. Nevertheless, in 2019, the City of San Francisco could not even manage to make the most painfully incremental and inadequate progress on new buildings: