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) 730-0768
Director of Development: Nicole Eads


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

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.”

Key Supporters

Campaign Leadership Donors
Mary Becker
Diane Boss
James S. Bower Foundation
Sheila & Tom Cullen
Katie Davis
Emily, Dan, Casey & Willow Engel
G. A. Fowler Family Foundation
Nancy & Karl Hutterer
Karen & John Jostes
Jean Kaplan
Charles D. (Kim) Kimbell
Dorothy Largay & Wayne Rosing
John C. Mithun Foundation
Betsy & Charles Newman
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
Paul Relis
Sea Forward Fund
Judy & Jack Stapelmann
Michel Saint-Sulpice
Suzanne & John Steed
Leslie Sweem Bhutani
& Ashish Bhutani
Sally Warner-Arnett
& G. William Arnett
Elizabeth Weber
Zegar Family Foundation