Menlo Spark is a new nonprofit organization joining together businesses, residents and government to achieve a climate neutral community within ten years (by 2025). The initiative advances policies that will help every building and land use in Menlo Park and every vehicle originating in Menlo Park produce zero net carbon dioxide or equivalent global warming pollution over the course of any given year. The efforts are guided by principles of promoting community prosperity and protecting civic heritage.
With the leadership and unique assets available to Menlo Park, we can go far past what any city of similar size has done across the globe – combining the financing of what already makes economic sense, piloting innovative approaches for the future (e.g. a greentech incubator), and changing the incentives for every business and resident to help themselves and the city at the same time to succeed. There is no shortage of good community level ideas, but putting them all together to catalyze change sets Menlo Park apart.
- Partner with city government to amplify current progress, support new efforts, and help connect with best practices in other communities.
- Engage deeply with community residents to generate demand for action, build a network of active supporters, and identify steps that individuals or groups of all types can take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
- Network with community businesses and other institutions such as churches and schools to generate demand, provide technical assistance to implement projects and organize collective projects.
Menlo Spark began when a small group of community members with diverse interests and experience joined together to explore opportunities to promote long-term economic vitality, equity, and quality of life in Menlo Park while addressing the urgent threat of climate change. We believe that Menlo Park, with its highly engaged citizenry and unique resources in the heart of Silicon Valley, can be a national leader in sustainability and climate action, generating massive local benefits while serving as an example to similar cities and towns across the country. Moreover, a large-scale community-led movement, including partnerships with business, government, and philanthropy, has the potential within a decade to put Menlo Park well on the path towards achieving the bold goal of climate neutrality.
We must act now to maximize the benefits of greater sustainability and avoid the devastating consequences of unmitigated climate change. As the problems of climate change loom increasingly large in the future, Menlo Park and similar cities will eventually be required by state and national mandates to pursue more aggressive climate action. By being an early adopter, Menlo Park can create a test bed for innovation and ease its inevitable transition to a low- or zero-carbon economy.
The technical solutions necessary to achieve climate neutrality already exist for most issues, or are rapidly being developed. Menlo Spark is pursuing the following five steps to climate neutrality, analyzed and discussed in our Strategies report by the Redstone Group:
- Keep it clean: Transition to clean renewable energy sources
- Use it wisely: Improve energy efficiency
- Travel light: Increase driving alternatives and promote efficient vehicles
- Waste not: Eliminate new waste, and manage existing waste
- Clean up the leftovers: Offset emissions until neutrality is reached
By helping to weave these steps together into a network of projects and initiatives in the city that contribute to sustainability, Menlo Spark supports a unified strategy for progress towards the ultimate goal of climate neutrality.