At CEC, building community resilience is at the center of everything we do. Our advocacy and programs seek to address root causes of climate change.
Since 1970, CEC has led the Santa Barbara region — and at times California and the nation — in creative solutions to some of the toughest environmental problems. We are often referred to as a “think-and-do tank” — deeply analyzing a problem and then applying creative, real-world solutions to it.
CEC’s process for creating social change is:
- Identify a critical community need,
- Raise awareness about that need (often by setting a challenge goal for the community),
- Push state and local government to change laws and regulations that affect the issue,
- Take direct action ourselves toward that need, and
- Spur the community to adopt new behaviors.
CEC seeks to move the Santa Barbara region away from dependence on fossil fuels in one generation – Fossil Free by ’33. We are aggressively pursuing this goal by educating and activating the community around sustainable practices, advocating for environmentally-sound policies and laws, and building partnerships with other organizations to open new pathways for sustainable transportation, energy, and food systems. Our five initiatives – Drive Less, Drive Clean, Go Solar, Ditch Plastic, Rethink Food – offer accessible pathways for the community to connect with and take action on CEC’s vision for a cleaner, healthier future.
In 2007, CEC published a groundbreaking report, A New Energy Direction: a Blueprint for Santa Barbara County, in partnership with UCSB Economic Forecast Project, UC Berkeley, and CalPoly San Luis Obispo. This was one of the first regional carbon-neutral plans developed in the country. CEC and our partners performed an in-depth analysis of the costs and benefits of our region becoming “Fossil Free.” Our five initiatives work collectively to achieve the goals set forth in the blueprint.
We found that transitioning away from fossil fuels would actually save money over the long term. The savings come mostly from avoided energy costs through energy efficiency and conservation, but also from the fact that renewable energy can cost less than fossil fuels even today (wind power, in particular) — and in the future renewable energy technologies will become even more cost-effective. While there are some uncertainties, our economic advisors maintain that transitioning away from fossil fuels pays off through avoided energy, lower electricity costs, and job creation.