The main message of the environmental movement of the last 20 years in the United States has focused on reducing individual impact. “Consume less”, “drive less”, “downsize” are all things we as individuals are expected to do. The premise they’ve followed is that each of us is responsible for the things we buy, the activities we do, the way we get around, the homes we live in, and that each of those “things” has a carbon footprint attached to it, for which, we are personally responsible. The problem with this argument is that - yes, while we all have an opportunity to reduce our personal footprint - we as individuals are not responsible for the climate crisis. A report by The Guardian from October 2019 shows that 20 companies that are responsible for over 30% of the total worldwide carbon emissions released since 1965. “The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits. It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen,” (The Guardian, 2019).
What does that mean for our community in Eagle County, Colorado? As we look to achieve our Climate Action Plan goals of a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 and an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, we need to look to both individual change, as well as, systems change to bring about this result. We don’t need everyone to live in a tiny home, drive a tiny car, and only eat vegetables (although doing those things will help). Rather we need the energy that powers the homes we live in, drives our cars, and produces the food we eat to come from non-polluting sources.
And the great news is that we have partners in our local community, organized through the Climate Action Collaborative, that have dedicated themselves to helping us change the infrastructure we live our lives around to be pollution-free, so we can continue to live the way we want - and not be expected to do so with less. We have the power over our local energy systems, local transportation systems, and local food systems and can start in our own backyard, moving these systems away from fossil fuels and towards a zero-carbon future.
Here are 3 things you can do today to help the Climate Action Collaborative accelerate this transition:
Electrify your home. Our electric provider has committed to generating 70% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2022, meaning the energy coming from electricity will soon have a smaller carbon footprint that the energy coming from natural gas. The next time you need to replace a furnace or boiler in your home check out all-electric options such as an air-source heat pump. Walking Mountains in collaboration with Holy Cross Energy will be hosting a home-owner workshop on all-electric heating systems on April 22nd, 2020 (Earth day!) where you can learn all about the technology and how it could help you!
Buy local. Eagle County is fortunate enough to have local food producers in our community. Check out stores like the Colorado Meat Company, or any of the local farmer's markets during the summer to source your food. Even better, grow your own veggies during the summer!
Reduce your dependence on gasoline. Looking at the top 20 companies responsible for climate change, each of them is producers of oil and gas. When looking at new cars, check out all-electric options, try out the local bus system ECO Transit, or walk or bike on our incredible trails. Any of these options will help us reduce our dependence on gas and will cut off support to those companies who are responsible for our climate crisis.