California city aims to become carbon neutral
Just reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions is not enough for officials in Davis, Calif. The city aims to become “carbon neutral” by mid-century by following guidelines set out in the Low Carbon Diet, a program created by author and Earth Run organizer David Gershon.
Using California’s 20 percent carbon reduction goal as its starting point, Davis has set a short-term target to cut the community’s carbon emissions by up to 50 percent by 2013 through its Cool Davis campaign. The campaign aims to eventually engage 75 percent of households to follow the Low Carbon Diet, which is supposed to eliminate 5,000 pounds of carbon emissions in 30 days. The diet encourages households to implement several emission-reducing actions, such as reducing their water and power use and recycling, and to form peer-support groups of five to eight households called EcoTeams. “As a city where 75 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions are coming from residential sources, [adopting the Low Carbon Diet] was a no brainer,” said Davis Sustainability Director Mitch Sears. “When you pair the carbon reduction results Gershon is getting with the Cool Community strategy and tools he offers to scale them up, Low Carbon Diet is by far the most cost-effective option for our city budget.”
Households using Gershon’s carbon diet in similar Cool Community campaigns across the country have cut their emissions by up to 35 percent within months. Cool Portland, the campaign’s first pilot program, more than doubled its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 10 percent per household, realizing an average reduction of 22 percent, or 6,700 pounds. Rochester, N.Y., launched a Low Carbon Diet Challenge that achieved an average reduction of 10,828 pounds for every participating household. As a result, community organizers and city officials are scaling up a Cool Rochester campaign to engage 40,000 households and reduce the community’s carbon footprint by 1 billion pounds.
Massachusetts’ Cool Mass, the first statewide Cool Community campaign, launched last fall. The first communities to sign on are Boston, Braintree, Brookline, Dedham, Hingham, Hull, Milton, Newton and Winchester, which represent almost 1 million residents.
Read more information on Davis’ Low Carbon Diet Challenge.