Wildfires are ravaging our lands, droughts are stripping living things from the basic need of water, and our beautiful earth is sizzling; there has never been a more pressing time to change our ways. For my generation, the future isn't looking bright. We need the world to start changing at a much faster pace.
If I could become mayor of Menlo Park for a day and have free reign to pass policies and organize our region, I would do everything in my power to speed up progress.
Menlo Park has proven to be a climate leader, taking bold action and being among the first U.S. cities to pass local climate policies. The City Council passed all-electric reach codes prohibiting most natural gas uses in new construction. Since then, dozens of cities have followed in Menlo Park's wake and passed similar policies. This ripple effect demonstrates how Menlo Park's actions to reduce carbon emissions are not contained to one city: our progressive policies have far-reaching effects.
This is why even more action needs to be taken, and fast, to further accelerate this ripple effect. Menlo Park's policies will continue to inspire counties and cities throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
If I was Menlo Park's mayor for a day, I would build on our leadership position and take even bolder strokes to create a multi-city Bay Area Climate Coalition to educate and train leaders and citizens from counties across the Bay Area, and publicize Menlo Park and San Mateo County's leadership climate goals and action.
I would organize a Bay Area climate conference, bringing together the leaders of cities around the Bay Area to learn, inspire, and teach each other what has been done and what can be done. This would be held in Menlo Park, one of the greatest leaders of climate action across the nation, and be open to the public to ask questions and learn what has been done — and what's still to come.
Even though the U.S. hasn't promised decarbonization until 2050, Menlo Park plans to be on the forefront with goals to decarbonize by 2030. If accomplished, it would be one of the greenest cities in the nation. There should be pride around this. I think there will be more public support with publicizing Menlo Park's carbon neutral goals in an easily digestible way for the public to physically see. I would set up digital "climate progress" screens across Menlo Park to display our progress so far, our path forward, and what is in the works. Everyone passing through Menlo Park would become aware of our leadership, building momentum to reach our goals and inspiring others along the way.
Further, I would create a teen volunteer program so that all of our high school students can personally get involved with one of the many Bay Area climate action organizations. A list of 18 current organizations that are looking for volunteers right now www.hsClimateAction.com.
We can demonstrate that it is possible to reach our goals by 2030, and that we can influence the rest of California to change its net zero emissions goal from 2045 to 2030. We need a faster deadline to make real change, and it's only with change in how we live that we can change our trajectory. We can't afford to wait over 25 years while our state — and our planet — burn. As mayor for the day, I would ask everyone in our town and the Bay Area: What are we waiting for?