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Slimming Carbon Diet
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Central Marin Sanitation Agency new plant with biogas.
Courtesy Pacific Gas and Electric.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Del Mar’s draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) will be previewed by the City Council in the early new year. What bold measures, if any, will be recommended? Will there be ones that can measurably narrow the distance to the State-mandated goals of 1) reducing our energy consumption from nonrenewable sources, 2) diverting our waste from the landfill (zero waste) and 3) recycling or beneficially reusing our wastewater – all to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Click on photo to enlarge.

Many cities in California are well entrenched in the implementation of their CAPs. Some of the more innovative cities have attracted statewide attention. The cities of Santa Monica and San Rafael are 2014 recipients of the Beacon Award sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative. This recognition goes to California cities, and counties that are voluntarily working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies and programs that promote sustainability. Cities in San Diego County that have also received this same award are Chula Vista and La Mesa. All of these cities have actively involved their community residents, businesses and city operations in a mutual process to plan and commit to the “best practices for sustainability.”

Examples of the notable sustainability measures championed by Santa Monica and San Rafael are ones that involve a direct action to influence community behaviors – specifically concerning food choices and disposal. Santa Monica has included a climate action measure that is not usually captured in a traditional sector-based greenhouse gas emissions inventory – local food and agriculture – the essence of the community’s diet but none the less a large user of energy resources. This city within the LA area has committed to reducing meat and diary purchases by 15% through the promotion of ‘Meatless Mondays’ and the “Cool Foods Pledge.” Santa Monica vigorously supports sustainable, local and organic food both to lower the intense emissions associated with food production and to improve health. The operation of its Farmers’ Markets has been expanded to three days a week on alternate streets and different times – marketing unprocessed foods that are produced with the least emissions.

At the other end of the food production-to-consumption-to-waste cycle San Rafael, long-committed to a Zero Waste goal, has partnered its solid waste hauler with its wastewater service provider on a food waste-to-energy project. For many years pigs and peacocks have been naturally composting the food scraps at its Recycling and Resource Recovery Center. Now there is a new “big blue machine” that is processing commercial and residential food waste (restaurant and household food waste picked up from the curb). The processed food is sent to the sewage treatment plant, where it is converted into a biogas for use by the wastewater treatment plant and reducing its use of natural gas. San Rafael calls this “direct engagement” of its community – curb composting to benefit everyone. Although, the pigs and peacocks may have to talk with their management about this deal.
Many California communities like Santa Monica and San Rafael have asked their residents to adopt and foster sustainable behaviors within their climate action mitigation plans. Depending upon how much Del Mar’s Climate Action Plan will ask us to help, will there will be a “Beacon” in our future and maybe a little less bacon?

 

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