Thursday, February 16, 2012

Contra Costa County Climate Leaders - a Network assisting Contra Costa County and 19 Cities to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Planning for our Future

The Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL) Program is a network assisting the Contra Costa county and its 19 cities to inform, support and encourage the measurement and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Through education and sharing of best practices we will ensure sustainable, healthy and livable cities.

The 4CL network uses a three pronged multi-media approach that provides encouraging reminders and easy access to the tools necessary to ensure the county’s decision makers are well informed, educated and receive copies of best practices.

We provide city leaders with a monthly newsletter, quarterly workshops, and a website portal for sharing activities. This multi-media approach will ensure that best practices are at the forefront of day-to-day discussion–and that they are shared, supported, and implemented into policies that reduce Greenhouse gas emissions in Contra Costa County.

Who We Are

The mission of the Contra Costa County Climate Leaders Program (4CL) is to help cities take action and reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in Contra Costa County (CCC). To facilitate regional action, we monitor activities, provide free resources and tools and a multimedia communications strategy that ensures best practices are shared and implemented. Joined by elected officials, paid staff, volunteer advocates and grassroots organizations, we are ALL climate leaders in CCC.

Contra Costa County Cities are working together to address the issues associated with global climate change and 4CL is working to help track and share local government successes. Our summary matrix provides a great snapshot of individual progress, and each city page contains a summary of that city’s local policies and actions towards a more sustainable community.

Local Governments are taking the lead to address key policies issues to create sustainable communities and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To facilitate, track and measure regional action, 4CL provides cities with fact sheets on important key issues. Included in these fact sheets are the Who, What, Where and How, with direct links to other city policies to help facilitate the sharing of best practices. We also provide a discussion forum and encourage you to comment and share additional links and resources!


Implement a Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle is a framework for decision-making that anticipates how actions will affect the environment and health of future generations. When it is apparent that an activity is a potential threat to the environment or human health, full scientific certainty is not necessary to initiate precautionary action. Precautionary decision making is based on thorough examination of alternatives, transparency, community participation, and prevention of harm. It is not a ban on products or practices.

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

A Precautionary Principle is necessary to reduce continued harm from the effects of careless human activity before effect before the results are irreversible. Some frequently asked questions put together by the Science and Environmental Health Network describes several points as to why

Environmental Policies don’t always sufficiently prevent human and environmental harm. The study “Late Lessons from Early Warnings: The Precautionary Principle 1896-2000″ describes one-hundred-year history of policies repeatedly failing to protect human health and the environment.

Protecting Creeks in Contra Costa County

Each year, cities have the choice between using gallons of pesticides or using environmentally friendly methods of weed and pest control. They can enforce more stringent policies regarding new developments to decrease impermeable surface areas and prevent increased flooding and erosion. Cities have the choice to prevent chemical runoff and pollution in our creeks by a number of ways.

Creeks are an essential ecosystem, especially in the Contra Costa County where our creeks drain to reservoirs and the San Francisco Bay and Delta but many factors affect the decision to protect creeks:
·  High property values – creeks are an ideal habitat for many aquatic plants and animals and provide us with a beautiful landscape.

·  Creeks are areas of blooming biodiversity and, when properly maintained, serve as a passageway for fish populations to reproduce and feed.

·  Water conservation-after creeks are restored, native plants would use half the amount of water that invasive species do.

·  A city- run creek restoration committee can provide adequate representation of these vital waterways when new developments or legislature is being considered.

·  Green approaches to weed and pest abatement, such as bait and trap methods and aphid use, can often be cost effective in the long run.

·  Keeping pesticides away from schools, parks, and workers in charge of their application has many health benefits.

Implementing a Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

“Paper or Plastic?” How about neither? Consider banning the hard-to-recycle plastic bags within your city. Many cities are considering or have already implemented such ordinances. Businesses are also taking the lead to offer alternatives for purchase. Yet, plastic bags are still being used in abundance. These bags eventually end up in the landfill or polluting our local environment. By creating a plastic bag ban in your city, you can create real change and help the efforts of your local businesses.

Has your city considered a Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance? There are many good reasons to do so:
Plastic bags are designed for one use. Less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled and the process is not cost effective
The solution is quick and easy. Bring your own bag! Many people are already bringing their own bags to stores; many stores are already offering monetary incentives. Encourage the sustainable actions that are already happening in your city by making it a city policy!
More cities are looking into creating ordinances.

Chicken Ordinance

A Chicken Ordinance dictates what your city will allow in regards to egg laying hens as pets. Many residents currently house chickens in their backyard. And many others are thinking about it. Unfortunately, this practice isn’t always legal. It is important to update out of date city ordinances.

Some cities have out of date ordinances that prevent chickens in residential areas, considering them the same as “Farm Animals”, rather than domestic pets. This means that fresh eggs are only allowed in a home that is zoned for horses or ranch animals such as cows. There are Several BENEFITS to having a handful of domestic pet chickens…while still maintaining a strict no rooster policy.
•             Organic. Have control over the quality of your own eggs.
•             Ensure proper care and diet to limit steroids and chemicals that affect your own health.
•             Reduce harmful greenhouse gases, chemicals, and pesticides that result from factory farming.
•             Prevent groundwater degradation from the large scale chicken production.
•             Use waste products as very high quality fertilizer for personal gardens.
•             Pest control by eating aphids and slugs reducing needs for pesticides in your own yard.
•             Contribute to the local eating movement
•             Contribute to the animal’s rights movement.

Environmental Purchasing Policy (EPP)

An Environmental Purchasing Policy (EPP) is designed to promote the purchase and use of recycled or environmentally preferable products for your city and to encourage partnerships with others who follow the same methods. “Environmentally preferable products” are items that are made in a more sustainable manner and respect human health. EPPs focus on the entire lifespan of a product from materials acquisition, to production and packaging, to disposal. By reducing the impact of an item at any stage, these policies can help save your city money too!

There are several BENEFITS to your city when implementing EPPs:
• Save money through lower upfront costs, lower maintenance costs, reduced replacement costs, and decreased disposal or cleanup costs.
• Decrease the negative health impacts in your community.
• Generate less waste material by reviewing how supplies, materials and equipment are manufactured, purchased, packaged, delivered, used, and disposed. Reduce your landfill contribution.
• Conserve resources through your support of recycled materials.
• Encourage other vendors, contractors, businesses and those that you work with to market and use recycled/recyclable materials as well.
• Serve as an example for other communities to follow- be recognized for your environmentally friendly practices!

For more information about CCC Climate Leaders visit  

No comments:

Post a Comment