Meeting the Moment of the Climate Crisis

By Giving List Staff   |   October 28, 2021
Community Environmental Council CEO and staff on an educational outing to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

The time for action on climate change is now. For the Community Environmental Council (CEC), an environmental stalwart on the Central Coast for the past 50 years, that moment could not have come any sooner.

“For people who’ve been in the trenches for years like us, it feels like finally the world is really paying attention and realizing that the stuff is hitting the fan and we really need to make this a top priority,” says Michael Chiacos, CEC’s Energy & Climate Program Director. “We have the technology, and it’s fairly easy to do if we had the political will to just change some things.”

The Community Environmental Council doesn’t just have the will, it also has a plan. Meet CEC’s Reverse, Repair, Protect, an ambitious plan for how the local community can go all in together at this urgent moment to put a rapid, equitable halt to the climate crisis. 

The plan is broken into three parts. The first is Reverse, which pushes for ambitious, equitable zero emissions and zero waste goals for the energy, transportation, food, and agriculture sectors. The second is Repair, which taps into the power of nature to draw down excess carbon from the atmosphere and repair the disrupted carbon cycle. The last step, Protect, encompasses safeguarding public health and vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change that are already underway.

The goals of Reverse, Repair, Protect are ambitious. For instance, they call for our region to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, 15 years earlier than the California timeline. The plan calls for using that clean electricity to power not only transportation – especially electric vehicles – but also buildings.

“That will necessitate redesigning our cities so that it’s easier to not have to drive in traffic alone everywhere and that more people can bike, walk, take transit, and telecommute,” Chiacos says.

Chiacos acknowledges that this plan will take decades to fully realize. But if the Community Environmental Council has learned anything in half a century fighting for climate change, it’s how to play the long game.


Community Environmental Council

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(805) 963-0583
CEO: Sigrid Wright


The Community Environmental Council (CEC) advances rapid and equitable solutions to the climate crisis – including ambitious zero carbon goals, drawdown of excess carbon, and protection against the impacts of climate change. CEC was recognized as a 2020 California Nonprofit of the Year and a City of Santa Barbara Climate Hero and is led by CEO Sigrid Wright who was recently named 2022 Congressional Woman of the Year. CEC has worked since 1970 to incubate and innovate real-life environmental solutions that directly affect the California Central Coast. Our programs lead to clean vehicles, solar energy, resilient food systems, and reduction of single-use plastic.

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Clear Thinking on Climate Change

CEC helped me understand the basics and the complexities of climate change, and how to take steps in my life to make positive changes. I also gained a deeper understanding of how to strategically bring environmental sustainability into my work to help clients be successful.
Lisa Murphy Rivas
Principal, LMR Consulting, Inc.
Alumna, CEC’s UC Climate Stewards

Teaching Teens to be Climate Stewards for a Better Future for All

Community Environmental Council (CEC) piloted their Climate Stewards certification program for teens as a one-day-only workshop in the fall of 2023. The nonprofit is now raising funds to support the development and implementation of the Youth Climate program to launch more fully in 2024. 

Every donation, no matter the amount, is critical toward CEC’s mission to ensure a sustainable and resilient future for California’s Central Coast through such local-led initiatives that advance rapid and equitable solutions to the climate crisis, while also fostering greater community connections. 

Key Supporters

Anonymous in honor
of Karl Hutterer
Mary Becker
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
& Ashish Bhutani in honor
of Pat & Derrell Sweem
Diane Boss
James S. Bower Foundation
Patricia and Paul Bragg
Sheila & Tom Cullen
Emily, Dan, Casey
& Willow Engel
G. A. Fowler Family
Dorothy Largay
& Wayne Rosing
John C. Mithun
Mithun Family Foundation
Charles & Betsy Newman
Natalie Orfalea
Hutton Parker Foundation
Michel Saint-Sulpice
Judy Stapelmann
Suzanne & John Steed
Elizabeth Weber
Yardi Systems
Zegar Family Foundation