Meeting the Moment of the Climate Crisis
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.
Director of Development: Nicole Eads
At CEC, building community resilience is at the center of everything we do. Our advocacy and programs seek to address root causes of climate change.
Since 1970, CEC has led the Santa Barbara region — and at times California and the nation — in creative solutions to some of the toughest environmental problems. We are often referred to as a “think-and-do tank” — deeply analyzing a problem and then applying creative, real-world solutions to it.
CEC seeks to move the Santa Barbara region away from dependence on fossil fuels in one generation – Fossil Free by ’33. We are aggressively pursuing this goal by educating and activating the community around sustainable practices, advocating for environmentally-sound policies and laws, and building partnerships with other organizations to open new pathways for sustainable transportation, energy, and food systems. Our five initiatives – Drive Less, Drive Clean, Go Solar, Ditch Plastic, Rethink Food – offer accessible pathways for the community to connect with and take action on CEC’s vision for a cleaner, healthier future.
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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.
Reverse, Repair, Protect. Saving the Central Coast and Our Planet
The Community Environmental Council (CEC) must raise $15 million to fund its Protect Our Climate: Reverse, Repair, Protect campaign, the nonprofit’s ambitious plan to halt the climate crisis. As of late in 2022, CEC had raised $11.7 million, and all gifts will be matched by the John C. Mithun Foundation, up to $100,000. Funding will propel CEC’s work in several key areas, as well as establish an 8,000-square-foot Environmental Hub on Santa Barbara’s State Street – a living laboratory for people from all walks of life to design equitable climate solutions and put nature’s solutions to work.
“The Hub will fill a much-needed gap for a gathering space for the social sector, and will feature the Conklin Community Room, a flexible-use conference room. It also includes a professional webinar studio, small meeting rooms, “hot desk” rentals, and use for after-hours events such as film screenings, lectures, and receptions,” says Sigrid Wright, CEC’s CEO. “Our intention is that people from across the region who share the mission of protecting the Central Coast can have a place to design the future together.”
Campaign Leadership Donors
James S. Bower Foundation
Sheila & Tom Cullen
Emily, Dan, Casey & Willow Engel
G. A. Fowler Family Foundation
Nancy & Karl Hutterer
Karen & John Jostes
Charles D. (Kim) Kimbell
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
John C. Mithun Foundation
Betsy & Charles Newman
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
Sea Forward Fund
Judy & Jack Stapelmann
Suzanne & John Steed
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
& Ashish Bhutani
& G. William Arnett
Zegar Family Foundation