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Marin to launch nonprofit to tackle climate change, pollution – Marin Independent Journal

A new nonprofit will be created to implement the goals of “Drawdown: Marin,” a community driven campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below zero and prepare for climate change impacts.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the formation of the nonprofit on Tuesday.

Inspired by Paul Hawken’s book, “Drawdown,” the campaign aims to identify and execute the most feasible local solutions to global warming. The project was spearheaded by the Marin Climate Action Network and has been promoted by former county supervisor Kate Sears.

“This is a great day officially beginning the formation of the Drawdown organization,” said Bill Carney, president of Sustainable San Rafael and a Marin Climate Action Network member.

Drawdown: Marin and Marin County’s “climate action plan” share the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 using mitigation measures and to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 using a combination of mitigation and carbon sequestration.

“The Drawdown: Marin steering committee set these goals, more aggressive than the state’s goals, to indicate the urgency of dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Alex Porteshawver, a senior program manager with the Marin County Community Development Agency, told supervisors Tuesday.

The county hired Porteshawver in September 2018 to help launch the Drawdown program.

“To make progress towards meeting our aggressive goals and implementing local projects and programs, we need swift collective action,” Porteshawver said. “We can no longer afford to address climate change as one organization or one local government. We have to do it together.”

Porteshawver said that in addition to helping to unite Marin behind the goal of addressing climate change, the new nonprofit will make it easier to raise the money needed to fund the plan.

“Because the reality is,” Porteshawver said, “we need significant funding to meet our goals.”

She said the new nonprofit will have the flexibility to seek funding from private investors, whether people or corporate entities, and will be able to build relationships with foundations in a different way than a county government.

Porteshawver said a nonprofit also would be able to “get behind a public financing mechanism in a way that perhaps county government couldn’t.”

One idea previously suggested by a Drawdown committee is the use of property tax assessments, a sales tax or bond issuance to generate operating funds.

“The timing wasn’t right,” Porteshawver said, “and yet it is still out there as a possibility.”

The county is paying the $5,000 in legal expenses necessary to create nonprofit; there has been no estimate of what the new entity’s operating costs will be or who will foot the bill. Porteshawver said the county has allocated the money for her salary, $103,875 per year, only through September.

Drawdown: Marin, which attracted some 150 community volunteers, identified 29 climate change solutions and endorsed seven for immediate implementation. At the top of the list is getting 45% of Marin drivers to use an electric car or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

“We are currently at 4%,” Porteshaver said. “We have a long way to go.”

Drawdown: Marin has estimated it will need more than $3.6 million to achieve this goal.

Another of the seven strategies that Porteshawver mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting is the promotion of carbon farming, which can sequester carbon from the air in the soil while promoting plant growth. Drawdown: Marin has estimated it might spend $10 million on this effort by 2025, another $20.6 million by 2030 and an additional $62.8 million by 2045.

As daunting as these goals might sound, Drawdown: Marin’s ambitions don’t end there.

“Reducing emissions is important,” Porteshawver told supervisors, “and so is discussing and meaningfully integrating diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging into our efforts.”

Carney said, “I applaud the emphasis on equity that infuses Drawdown: Marin.”

Drawdown: Marin received a $126,000 Marin Community Foundation grant in 2019 to fund efforts to more deeply engage non-White communities in the project. An equity progress report, developed to measure Drawdown: Marin’s progress on key equity efforts, is expected to be published this spring.

Another of the seven strategies approved by Drawdown: Marin’s steering committee is to utilize a version of the Resilient Neighborhoods program. This Marin nonprofit coaches people on changes they can make in their lives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Eva Chrysanthe, a public commenter at the supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday, “I think we need to look at the lifestyles of the people who have the most influence in the county and really ask some questions. Is it something that we want to continue to praise that people have second homes in Hawaii, and they’re constantly flying back and forth emitting more carbon emissions?”

Tamra Peters, executive director of Resilient Neighborhoods, said, “We’re looking forward to moving ahead and helping Drawdown mobilize the community.”

Porteshawver said the list of options that Resilient Neighborhoods presents to participants includes equity goals such as volunteering to pay a land tax to the Indigenous people who inhabited Marin County before Europeans settled here.

“Drawdown: Marin does land acknowledgments at the beginning of its meetings to acknowledge that we are on the land of Indigenous tribes,” Porteshawver said. “It’s not enough just to acknowledge the land; we have to identify ways to support and work with those tribes. One way is to pay a land tax.”

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