Practically Parisian: 7 Actions You Can Take to Fight Climate Change

Sierra Business Council supports strong, immediate and aggressive action at the local, regional, state, national, and international level to reduce the threat that climate change poses to the Sierra Nevada.

SBC SierraClimateEffects NC 2017 04 copyPresident Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord is an ill informed act that damages American competitiveness in global markets, will eventually lead to loss of jobs in emerging industries in the United States and in the Sierra, and ignores the clear fact that changes in our climate pose significant risk to human health, safety and economic security.

Sierra Business Council is focused on finding ways to help lift people and businesses up, create opportunity, restore our landscapes and celebrate the communities that reflect the richness of our lives in the Sierra Nevada. We can’t succeed without the recognition that what makes it all possible is our place—the mountains and rivers, forests and meadows, the communities of character, the people vibrant, active and productive—and our changing climate threatens that.

The President’s action is only a game changer if we let it be. We may need to be stronger, more committed and more motivated to prevail, but we are ready.

The impact of climate change in the Sierra is clear. Temperatures are rising, forest health is declining, wildfire is increasing in scale and intensity, snow levels are moving up in elevation, and weather is more extreme. This is not some future scenario—we are seeing our landscape fundamentally transformed today and we can measure it—that transformation will be devastating to our ecosystems, communities, business and economic opportunity in the region.

Following the initial disappointment regarding our exit from the Paris Climate Accord, the most important question is what can we do? We can and will continue to take action, so we share the below list and challenge residents of the Sierra to join us in stepping it up.

1. Make your voice heard. Speak up with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers about climate change; tell your story, explain why the issue is important to you; do it with love and respect for different perspectives. Change is never easy; the first step is consistently, persistently speaking the truth with compassion and understanding.

2. Take individual responsibility. You can make a difference by making smart personal choices: choose renewables over carbon based fuels; choose locally grown foods and sustainable agricultural products; choose low carbon transportation; select your consumer goods with climate conscience; stand up for the most vulnerable people in your community to help them make a just transition; and participate in the process. 

3. Support candidates who will take action on climate change at the local, state and national level. Actively seek out the people who are committed to act on climate change and support the candidates who pledge to take action. The climate question is relevant at every level of government, from every political party, and on every board and commission. We should be asking the question, “What is your commitment” and rewarding good behavior. It doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t vote.

4. Encourage your communities to limit carbon emissions. We have tools to reduce emissions. Dig in and do the Energy Action Plans, Climate Action Plans, Sustainable Community Strategies that commit communities to reductions. Advance initiatives to go to 100% renewable power. Build housing next to transportation and job centers so people can make low carbon choices. Engage in the processes that make it happen.

5. Plan for climate adaptation. We’ve probably already going to see a 7° to 10°F increase in temperature in the Sierra. Learn what the impact will be on our communities from extreme events like heat waves, flooding, and forest fire and plan in advance to be prepared. California has a climate adaptation strategy called Safeguarding California. Tell your local leaders to implement it. Advocate for increased investment in our forests and watersheds that store carbon and increase resilience during extreme events. 

6. Support aggressive climate policy at the state level. California should double down on pricing carbon through Cap and Trade, support an aggressive Low Carbon Fuel Standard, invest the revenue generated from pricing carbon to accelerate carbon reductions, and directly regulate emissions to reduce impacts on Disadvantaged Communities. In Nevada you can support renewable energy by increasing the renewable portfolio, restoring net metering so people can take advantage of clean energy, and supporting community solar energy. Nevada also needs to develop and implement a climate adaptation strategy.

7. Support businesses and non-profits who support climate action. Thousands of businesses in the United States are actively reducing carbon emissions and advocating for smart climate policy. Identify, support and encourage them. There are companies that talk a good game but don’t walk the talk; hold them accountable by speaking up or pressuring their shareholders to change. In the Sierra there are dozens of organizations committed to advancing aggressive carbon reduction strategies: support them financially, volunteer and add your voices.

Most important, don’t roll over, don’t go home and don’t get discouraged. We can and will prevail when we come together, stand up, embrace civility, speak truthfully, and become the people who change the world.