MCE was honored to join countries and leaders from around the world at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris. The historic international agreement that resulted signifies the beginning to the end of over a century of economic and governmental reliance on fossil fuels.
The esteemed delegation we traveled with—including leadership from the Governor’s office, LEAN Energy US, and the City of Richmond, and organized by Kyoto USA and the Sequoia Foundation—represented California’s trailblazing Community Choice Aggregation policies. We were invited to present on how offering community choice for energy has proven to have positive effects on our communities by:
- Mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
- Creating local jobs,
- Stabilizing energy costs, and
- Creating a competitive environment for monopoly utilities.
It was truly inspiring to witness such an enormous and diverse group of people from around the world unified on an effort to solve a crisis that crosses the usual chasms of culture, language, development, and access to resources.
A Look Inside
There were two main areas of COP21, the “green” and “blue” zones. The “green zone” was a large civil society space where non-governmental groups shared their work through presentations and information booths. While learning and sharing with others here, we discovered the relevance that the community choice model has in other countries, particularly regarding community empowerment and financing.
MCE was also invited to participate in the “blue zone,” a restricted area for international delegates. Within the huge mass of temporary structures, each participating country and region was given space to display highlights of their accomplishments to-date and actions underway. A few themes in particular surfaced as the most globally pressing and common:
- Climate change mitigation and adaptation – particularly among low-lying and island countries that have been greatly impacted.
- Issues constraining renewable usage in developing countries – such as intermittency and the high cost of storage
- Environmental justice – vulnerable indigenous communities, and developing countries have been most heavily impacted by the effects of climate change, despite having had the least to do with creating the problem
MCE’s ability to connect government representatives and community members was a relevant model at COP21, as was our ability to redirect existing fossil revenue towards renewable sources. So, as always, we are inspired by all the good work that continues to go on by each of our member communities, our customers, and our team!
A Local Transformative Model
A big thank you to Peter Wood from the International Institute for Sustainable Development for producing this amazing short film to document our experiences at COP21. It was an honor to share Community Choice Energy on an international scale.
City of Richmond Mayor & MCE Vice Chair, Tom Butt
Senior Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, Cliff Rechtscaffen
MCE Cheif Executive Officer, Dawn Weisz
LEAN Energy U.S. Executive Director, Shawn Marshall