Looking Back: Statement to Redwood City Council

August 26, 2019 – Jim Ilnicki

Good evening Mayor Bain and Council Members.  I am Jim Ilnicki, Redwood City resident and a member of Fossil Free Mid-Peninsula.

Greenland Glaciers outside of Ammassalik

We know that we are in a climate crisis. The Greenland glacier is melting at a rate of billions of gallons a day. Scientists have confirmed that June and July were the hottest on record. The Amazon rainforest is burning with catastrophic results.

The first tipping point has passed- we will experience sea level rise and more extreme weather.  The second tipping point is coming soon, by around 2030.  Unimaginable damage is looming if we don’t implement highly aggressive measures now to drastically reduce our carbon footprint.

Our hope for the future lies in individual action, technological solutions, and strident policies, regulations, and incentives enacted by our elected officials.

The call for individual action remains a huge challenge.  Why is it that so many of the people who understand and accept the facts about climate change are nevertheless doing little or nothing about it.  That is a complex issue but it’s important to get a handle on it – individual action will remain a critical component of any climate action plan.

As for our elected officials, Washington has done nothing in the last two years, and in fact has gone in reverse. That leaves the state and local level. But, in looking at your agendas, I see that you have your hands full, as do your city departments and staff. So we have a problem of priorities.

Yet cities are the key for governmental action. Cities collectively constitute about 70% of the world’s carbon footprint. Redwood City, and all cities, must do their part.  Therefore, my first ask is that we focus on the climate crisis at every council meeting.  We must require that every project and proposal coming before the Council include a specific section on the project’s carbon footprint. There must also be a section addressing what will be done to offset it, or better, to create a negative footprint.

My second ask is that we set aggressive carbon reduction goals for the year 2030 that are much higher than the State’s current goals. Even if our goals seem unattainable, we must figure out ways to achieve them anyway.  The implementation and progress of our new Climate Action Plan, including goal tracking, must appear as a regular agenda item at every Council Meeting. Because what gets tracked, gets accomplished.

The world faces many problems, but this is the defining crisis of our age.  We are asking that you make this your daily focus, and make it the City’s number one priority now and for years to come.

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