By Linda Perrine
All of us in Eugene are enjoying a lovely start to summer this year of 2019. It is a reminder of what we have to lose in the on-going emergency of our Earth’s changing climate. Don’t we all prefer to see the forests green and healthy, the snowpack allowing rivers to flow with healthy fish and wildlife populations? Our local farms having plentiful water supplies to grow the world-class produce available to all of us at local farmers markets and stores?
Can we all agree on these values and choose to act in our own lives to preserve what we cherish about living in Lane County?
Climate change still looms as an emergency that requires all of us to act like our children’s lives depend on it, because they do. It requires us to shift our personal choices around energy sources, food production/consumption/waste, moving forest management towards sustainable practices for all species, not just us, and addressing social justice issues including affordable housing throughout Lane County.
With the failure of the Oregon Legislature to pass HB 2020 in the recent session, local work on climate change becomes even more important. The city of Eugene is eight years into defining a Climate Action Plan (CAP) and is currently working towards approval of version 2.0 this fall.
One important piece of this plan is to engage local residents in their contribution to lowering their personal carbon emissions. Task No. 6 in the CAP 2.0 document Citizen and Neighborhood CAP2.0 Implementation outlines three goals: Identify and document current best practices related to sustainable behaviors; evaluate gaps in local programs and offerings; and develop a program to fill gaps.
350 Eugene, through its nationwide 350.org network, has learned of a timely web app called the Carbon Free Challenge created by a company called climatesolutionsnet.com. They are working on a set of websites for regions all over the U.S. to engage citizens in acting to reduce their personal carbon emissions through personal consumption choices. They have created a western Oregon regional website at werenew.net/westernor, which will soon contain city specific landing pages for each major western Oregon city to participate in this challenge.
The Eugene Carbon Free Challenge project will be a new partnership between 350 Eugene, city of Eugene and EWEB, all of whom are sponsoring this project and committed to lowering our community’s carbon emissions.
During summer and fall 2019, our plan is to visit with neighborhood associations, schools, churches, businesses and local NGOs to create teams within the Eugene Carbon Free Challenge. The goal is to motivate personal and group action inside this challenge website.
The website offers a list of carbon reduction actions ranging from cheap and easy to more significant and expensive, allowing each person to choose their own actions. Once the individual action is completed, that person receives points (1 point = 1 lb CO2 reduced) for their action. These points are rolled up to team scores, allowing the various teams to see how other teams’ scores compare and invite competition towards the common goal of reducing carbon emissions. Finally, the website rolls up a total point score for the city and region that gives visibility to everyone on how the city and region are progressing on total carbon reduction.
We hope to be visiting with your organization this summer to demonstrate this website and encourage your participation in the Eugene Carbon Free Challenge. In November, the city will be awarding first-, second- and third-place awards for the teams with the highest scores. A bit of good old-fashioned American competition towards reducing carbon emissions!
Join us by going to werenew.net/westernor and creating your account today. To request a demonstration for your organization, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Perrine is an organic farmer and activist with 350 Eugene. She has taught outdoor environmental education in California and is a former engineer with NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She has lived and run her own business in Lane County for the past 11 years.