Climate change is harming our health, finances, and natural spaces. Recent reports on global climate change have stated clearly that we need to move away much faster from fossil fuels to retain any hope of preventing a perilous future on an overheated planet. Global temperature rise is currently on track to exceed the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise to no more than 2°C, however, the world can achieve sharp emissions reductions and avoid climate catastrophe with existing technologies.
What can be done?
Hundreds of scientist agree that we must slash emissions by more than 40% within the next 7 years to have any chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change (limiting warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F)). The good news is that we can achieve this with tools either already available or in rapid development—though time is running out.
Key steps to avoiding the worst impacts of climate entail:
- Halting development (and use) of additional fossil fuels and accelerating our transition to renewables, which can be facilitated by falling prices for clean technologies;
- Fast-tracking the shift to electric vehicles;
- Eliminating methane gas use & reimagining efficiency when designing and operating buildings;
- Redesigning cities—where majority of people live—to avoid sprawl, add more green spaces, and better facilitate public transport, walking and biking.
Other important steps include reducing deforestation, restoring coastal ecosystems, and improving the management of working lands, like farms and ranches. Carbon removal technologies are also considered essential to achieving climate targets, and these and dozens of other nascent climate innovations must be funded, developed and rapidly scaled. And as individuals, we can make a difference in our own daily lives by adopting cleaner transportation habits, switching to plant-based diets, reducing all forms of waste, and voting for leaders who will prioritize climate action.
How Menlo Spark is meeting the challenge:
Smaller communities like Menlo Park have the power to spark solutions!
Menlo Spark is a nonprofit collaboration of local government, businesses, and residents helping Menlo Park adopt a suite of measures by 2025 that are necessary to reach zero carbon by 2030, as we advance equity, economic vitality, and community health. Our key focus areas include:
- Building Electrification: Coordinating a citywide shift to fully electric heating and appliances, that avoids fossil fuel use in homes and buildings.
- Transportation: Increasing safety and accessibility of walking and biking, providing more public transit choices, and supporting the adoption of electric and zero-emission vehicles.
- Sustainable Living: Promoting simple everyday actions to reduce climate impacts.
- Equitable Access: Creating assistance programs, especially for low- and moderate-income households, and other measures to ensure an equitable and affordable transition.
Climate change is no longer a future threat; it is here now. The impacts of severe drought and wildfires confront Californians every day, and as fossil fuel emissions continue, those impacts will escalate. With our highly engaged community and unique resources in the heart of Silicon Valley, Menlo Spark is a national leader in climate action, generating massive local benefits while serving as an example to similar cities and towns across the country.