Good News Santa Cruz
Good News Santa Cruz
Ecology Action and Climate Change

On Good News Santa Cruz this week, Pauline Seales visits with Kirsten Liske of Ecology Action.

They discussed Drawdown Solutions, Monterey Bay Community Power – our local carbon-free electricity,and Safe Routes to School. Other topics included Ecology Action’s many energy and water saving programs, as well as local transportation issues.

Ecology Action Overview

Since Earth day 1970 Ecology Action has been mainstreaming solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of the day. We are currently focusing all of our formidable talent on reducing carbon emissions at scale. Our strategic priorities are transforming the built environment and spurring individual action in the areas of water, energy and transportation. In just 2019 79,000 metric tons of carbon emissions were avoided because of our programs, equivalent to taking 17,000 cars off the road for a year. We have over a 100 staff and a budget of $22M this year delivering programs in 5 western US States.

Built Environment

  • Over 20,000 businesses have worked with us to implement water and energy efficiency measures that have saved $1B in utility costs for our participants. A key focus this year is partnering with national grocery chains in over 5 states.
  • We secured millions in State funding to fund our development of Safe Routes to Schools plans to transform streets for biking and walking for all the schools in the Cities of Santa Cruz, as well as Seaside, Marina, Watsonville and the unincorporated County. We are also working on an active transportation plan the City of Scotts Scotts Valley. Having these community-driven plans in place accelerates installation of safe bike lanes and cross walks, as well as attracts millions in outside grant funding to pay for improvements. Our focus this year is completing similar plans for all of the schools in Salinas and an active transportation plan for the unincorporated County of Santa Cruz with a goal of ensuring all communities in the Monterey Bay Area have plans in place and accelerate completion of biking and walking improvements so individuals feel safe and enthusiastic to ditch their cars.

Individual Action

  • Since 70% of our GHG emissions generated in the Monterey Bay are from personal and light commercial transportation our Sustainable Transportation goals are to help the community shift how it gets around so people and planet can thrive. There are economic, health and environmental benefits to switching to an EV, carpooling, taking transit, riding bikes and walking.
  • We believe that all youth should have access to resources and skills to get where they need to go safely and healthfully. As such we aim for every 2nd grader to have pedestrian safety training and every 5th grader bike safety training.  Last year we made great stride toward our goals, serving about 2/3 of the 3K students in Santa Cruz County and about 1/3 of the 7K students in Monterey County through expanded public partnerships and donations. Listeners can help us reach our goals by volunteering for our skills training events and donating because public grant funding doesn’t and won’t cover the entire need.  For $50 you can provide a child bike skills for life!
  • There is so much potential in our community to shift short trips to biking. Already City of Santa Cruz is second in the state for the most bike commutes at 12% of regular trips.    We’re excited this year to launch a partnership with UCSC to expand JUMP bikes, ebikes and biking on campus to dramatically increase biking through outreach, training and engagement and getting the word out about how game changing e-bikes can be for hilly commuters.
  • We are a key player in a partnership of regional agencies to promote MyCruz511. This new platform provides information and incentives for transit, biking and new approaches to carpooling so we can all try getting around in new ways. Ecology Action is conducting urban bike commute workshops and promoting enrollment in the program.
  • The quickest way to decarbonize our local transportation is for us to shift to electric vehicle use as quickly as possible.  The good news is the market is quickly catching up with our distance and charging needs, and with incentives, EVs can be more affordable over time with significantly reduced Operations and Maintenance costs.  Further with Monterey Bay Community Power we are on carbon neutral energy and can upgrade to renewables to fuel our ride.  To support an accelerated shift to EVs. Ecology Action is working on an initiative to ensure low income apartments statewide are not left out of the charging incentive solutions. Locally we have a goal to triple the local EV showcase and test drive events around the region. At these events folks can talk to owners, sit in many models, and test ride up to 10 models to help them accelerate their shift to EV.  (Listeners cannot yet find anything on our website about this, so please ask folks to visit the MBEVA website and sign up for the e-newsletter for now).

Ecology Action Links

Ecology Action 2019 Impact

Giving kids bike and walk skills for life

Ecology Action Bike Commute Programs

Electrify your Ride with Ecology Action sponsored MBEVA

National Commercial Energy Efficiency

Help us make it happen!

Regional Links

Monterey Bay Community Power Carbon Neutral Energy info and upgrade to MBPrime 100% Renewable

Get around smarter and win prizes with MyCruz 511 car pool program