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Impressive Year Brings Hope #actonclimate

This was a particularly big year for CEC and climate activists. It is because of your investment of time, energy and money that we were able to accomplish so many positive, sustainable solutions in the tri-county region. Along with many highlights listed below, together we passed a plastic bag ban, began drafting a countywide food action plan, and made significant progress on a bicycle master plan – all while pushing for a significant jump in renewable energy in our county.

The year ended on a high note, when 188 countries signed a deal at the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference to keep global temperatures at bay. Read this op-ed by CEO/Executive Director Sigrid Wright and Board President Laura Capps: Paris Agreement Matters to Santa Barbara.

We wrapped up 2015 with hope, and invite you to join us in the new year. The moment for significant regional action on climate change has come, and CEC is leading the way.

Take a look at our 2015 highlights below, and join our mailing list to keep up to date on how you can help moving forward.

Policy and Legislative Action

In 2015, CEC initiated or signed on to 20 letters to state and regional officials, and gathered over 500 petition signatures from the community on climate related issues. Big policy wins this year included:

Community Choice Energy. After 8 years of CEC advocacy, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is now studying the potential for Community Choice Energy, one of the single biggest moves toward clean energy that our region could take. San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties, as well as several cities, are also participating in the study.

Plastic Bag Ban. Thanks to a coalition co-led by CEC, Santa Barbara County has eliminated over 100 million single-use plastic bags from annual distribution.

Bicycle Master Plan. As the City of Santa Barbara revamps this plan for the first time in 15 years, CEC has partnered with SBBike to ensure inclusion of critical bicycle lanes, mode share goals, and other details that will improve the “bikeability” of our streets and ensure continued growth of cycling in our community.

Other top items on our legislative agenda: stopping proposals to the CPUC that would gut the ability for Californians to save money on rooftop solar (Net Metering 2.0), and pushing the state to codify Governor Brown’s pledge to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (SB 350 – passed in September). See our full legislative slate here.

Community Initiatives

Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan. CEC, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Orfalea Foundation are leading a community-based process that will create a “blueprint” for an accessible, thriving, sustainable, and healthy food system, due out in early 2016.

CEC’s Solarize Program. To date, CEC’s solar group-purchasing program has helped 475 local homeowners go solar, bringing over 2.4 megawatts of solar power to Central California.

Alternative Fuel Readiness Plan. We’re supporting a public/private task force to prepare the Central Coast for more alternative fuel vehicles, including electric vehicles and Santa Barbara’s first hydrogen fueling station, expected in early 2016.

Rethink the Drink. Our water refill stations – now installed at 66 schools and facilities – have prevented over 1.5 million plastic water bottles from being used.

Community Events

In 2015, CEC hosted or co-sponsored over a dozen awareness-raising events, including:

Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival. Organized by CEC and attended by 29,320 people, nearly 3,000 people came by bike, and 308 took a test drive at the festival’s Green Car Show.

CycleMAYnia. Over the month of May, thousands of residents participated in 35 events that encouraged biking in Santa Barbara.

Stand in the Sand. In response to the May 19 Plains All American Pipeline oil spill, CEC and partners gathered over 500 people on the beach in solidarity for renewable energy in place of oil.

National Drive Electric Week Car Show. CEC’s 3rd annual Electric Car Show was held in September, followed by Drive Clean workshops this fall for drivers in Santa Barbara and Ventura interested in transitioning to electric vehicles.

45th Anniversary Green Gala. More than 200 guests honored the contributions of retiring CEO Dave Davis and CEC’s 45-year track record of standing up for the environment.

Open Streets Festival. Over 15,000 people took over a 2-mile stretch of Cabrillo Boulevard for a celebration of car-free, healthy activities in October.

Climate Thought Leadership

Designing a healthier, more resilient, climate-friendly world requires strong partnerships with deep thinkers. This year CEC was fortunate to spend time in conversations with:

Bill McKibben. Climate activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, accepted CEC’s 2015 Environmental Hero Award.

Pico Iyer. The internationally acclaimed author joined CEC’s founding Executive Director, Paul Relis, on stage at the Lobero Theater to discuss the evolution and future of the environmental movement.

Len Hering. The retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral gave a keynote on the link between sustainability and national security at the 5th Annual Central Coast Sustainability Summit (co-organized by CEC).

Congresswoman Lois Capps. At UCSB, she led a panel discussion on the legislatives steps needed to build a clean energy future (co-sponsored by CEC).

Mark Schapiro. The award-winning journalist and author of Carbon Shock explored the true cost of fossil fuels at public and private events (co-sponsored by CEC).

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson & Assemblyman Das Williams. The two officials discussed California’s leadership in climate change legislation and previewed their 2016 legislative agendas at a CEC Partnership Council breakfast.

Trash-to-Biogas Facility. CEC took a group of community leaders on a tour of a cutting-edge facility built by CR&R in Perris, CA. This 8-acre complex will divert green waste from landfills and turn it into a renewable natural gas, or biomethane.

Publications

Out of the Wasteland: Stories from the Environmental Frontier. CEC worked with Paul Relis, CEC’s founding Executive Director, to publish his memoir on the evolution of the environmental movement over his four-decade career.

Rebalancing the Food Waste Equation: A Case Study for Santa Barbara. With reports that 40% of all food in the U.S. is going to waste, CEC delved into our local food system to explore potential solutions. Working with grocery stores, waste managers and charitable organizations, CEC hosted a roundtable discussion with 26 community stakeholders.

Organizational Milestones

First Female CEO/ Executive Director. Sigrid Wright, a 20-year veteran of CEC, became the first female CEO/Executive Director in the company’s 45-year history. On August 1, she replaced Dave Davis, who retired from his 10-year tenure in the role.

New Board President & Members. Laura Burton Capps was appointed the first female Board President in over 15 years. CEC also welcomed SBCC Environmental Studies professor Adam Green, attorney Kim Kimbell, former District Attorney Stan Roden, and Goleta Water Commissioner Meg West.

New Partnership Council Members. CEC welcomed five new members: Gillian V. Grant, Laura & Russ McGlothlin, Susan Owens, and Perrin Pellegrin.

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Nicole Wald

Nicole Wald is a freelance writer and educator in Santa Barbara, CA with a passion for helping the planet. She supports CEC in developing content for social media, PR, marketing, and the annual Earth Day Festival. Part of this work includes gathering stories of people along the Central Coast who consciously take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nicole Wald
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