Demand a better climate change plan

Butte Environmental Council and Sustainability Task Force seeking input for solutions

The author is a professor in the Geography and Planning Department at Chico State, and a member of Chico Sustainability Task Force and the Butte Environmental Council.

Scientists tell us we have only 11 years to profoundly transform our existing systems in order to avert a climate disaster. In other words, we have one year to create a 10-year plan for our city. Admirably, this past February, the Chico City Council voted to update the municipality’s existing Climate Action Plan to achieve the new state goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. But recent science shows that 80 percent is not enough. If we want to survive a future of more fires, floods and searing heat, we need to demand a better plan.

This summer, I attended the California Climate Action Planning Conference, where 200 planners from around the state wrestled with these very issues. My main takeaway—no offense to my friends in office—was that government planners will not save us. The barriers to climate action are no longer technological or economic, but rather the outdated and inflexible institutional structures of our own public agencies.

That said, I left the conference inspired by the towns and cities pursuing community-driven climate resiliency planning, where residents participate in their own community solutions. Places like Richmond and Marin City are demanding democratic engagement in a planning process that also inspires social cohesion. Chico must do the same.

Everyone needs to be part of this vital conversation, especially the youth, so the Butte Environmental Council is hosting a Climate Action Plan listening session on Tuesday (Aug. 27) from 6-8 p.m. at the CARD Community Center on Vallombrosa Avenue.

Members of the city’s Sustainability Task Force will be in attendance to collect your feedback. Both groups believe it is extremely important that as many voices as possible are heard, so please take advantage of this opportunity to make our community and our own lives better. If you can’t attend the listening session, please email your suggestions directly to the Chico City Council. Our voices need to rise higher and faster than the temperature. Our collective future depends on it.