2023 CASM Climate Corps: Now Accepting Applications!

Apply Now

Climate Action Santa Monica invites high school and college students to apply for the CASM Climate Corps 2023 program.

Since 2016, Climate Corps have engaged in local climate action for an informative, fun and empowering summer confronting the global climate emergency. Climate Corps is a program of Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) to engage in climate action in our local community for an informative, fun and empowering summer experience.

A primary partner of the program is the City of Santa Monica, which has integrated sustainability goals and rights into its laws, regulations, and operations through the Santa Monica Climate Action & Adaptation Plan. This plan aims to profoundly reduce greenhouse gases by 2030, and aims for the City of Santa Monica to be carbon-neutral by 2050. CASM Climate Corps members help bring climate policy and action to life in our local community.

In collaboration with our partner, the City of Santa Monica, Climate Corps ages 15 to 21 learn about and have real-world experiences in: 

  • causes and impacts of climate change
  • local sustainability policies and programs
  • communicating feedback to leaders.
  • engaging with and educating the community on sustainability issues.

If you have questions, email us at casmcommunity@gmail.com

2022 CASM Climate Corps Recap

21 youth completed our 2022 Climate Corps program!

We focused on the water system and drought adaptations, organics recycling, and building decarbonization. Corps surveyed at 7 farmers’ markets and created a digital campaign educating on water and drought.

Check out their work on @climatecorps on Instagram and @casmclimatecorps on TikTok.

Applications for our summer 2023 CASM Climate Corps will be available in January 2023. We welcome applications from all youth ages 15 to 21. The program is 5 weeks long during afternoons during SMC and SMMUSD summer sessions.

Don’t derail decarbonization with a narrow-minded solar policy

CASM has joined the 600+ organization coalition to Save California Solar.

The future of rooftop solar is at a crux with a vote in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on in February that could end “net metering.” California has over 9 gigawatts of rooftop solar out of a total 23 gigawatts of solar, and we will need 3-4 times this amount by 2045 to achieve 100% renewable power per SB100. Santa Monica’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 aspires to 10x our current installed megawatts, partly by cracking the market in multifamily buildings. This will be impossible with the proposed policy that ends net metering for apartment buildings as well.

To displace gas currently burned for half of California’s electricity, solar power must be stored. In 2021, 89% of new, large-scale solar projects included storage, while that number is 15% and growing for rooftop solar.[i] Santa Monicans installed 30 systems with batteries in the last 2 years despite supply shortages. Importantly, three million electric cars using half their battery capacity could replace all evening fossil generation.[ii] “Vehicle-to-grid” is currently being piloted in Torrance and elsewhere.[iii]

The CPUC intended for its new “net billing” policy to incentivize storage,[iv] but it deals a blow to rooftop solar so severe that, with batteries or without, the industry and its 60,000 jobs are at risk. With the highest monthly solar fees in the country, the payback period for rooftop solar would rise to over 18 years, making it an uneconomic investment. For low-income customers, payback periods will lengthen slightly and then dramatically over four years as subsidies decline.[v] Solar sent to the grid earns “Avoided Costs” credits based on wholesale power values that fail to account for costs of adding new transmission lines and disregard other benefits that local generation provides.[vi]

When our community choice supplier, the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), imports cheap solar power from the desert, we pay the costs of transmitting it to Southern California Edison (SCE).[vii] A recent study estimated that maximizing rooftop and community solar would save Californians 2.3 cents per kWh or a total of $120 billion through 2050.[viii]  Extreme heat, droughts of hydroelectricity from the Pacific Northwest, and wildfires caused by climate change multiply the need for distributed systems that are more resilient. In a heat wave last July, a wildfire near a transmission line in Oregon nearly took down the California power system.[ix]

People are motivated to take responsibility for their carbon emissions and electricity reliability by participating in the shift to sustainable energy. The utilities and CPUC claim that rooftop solar shifts costs to everyone else, because power from remote solar farms is cheap at times when rooftop solar sites export to the grid.  However, twelve percent of California solar adopters in 2019 had incomes below $50,000, and an additional 29% had incomes between $50,000 and $100,000—up from 9% and 24% a decade earlier. Solar loans, leases, and power purchase agreements require no money down. If utilities will be provided guaranteed returns for building transmission while rooftop solar investors have their returns eliminated, we are squandering resources needed to reach our climate goals.

Rooftop solar doesn’t impact wildlife or native, public and formerly protected lands like remote solar farms do.[x] The Camp fire that burned the town of Paradise was caused by a breakage of a line on a high-voltage transmission tower. Recent studies have shown that deaths of migratory waterfowl at large solar farms increase during the fall migration because they get mistaken for lakes.[xi]

Electrification is essential for decarbonization. California requires rooftop solar on all new buildings and all new car sales to be electric in 2035. Santa Monica has incentives for all-electric buildings and to expand EV charging. Changes in electrical usage will come with buildings going electric and buying electric cars that people plan to charge with their own solar power.[xii] Giving up on the solar market as it becomes mainstream and begins to reach apartment dwellers will leave us all holding the bag of an outdated utility system less likely to decarbonize. The CPUC needs to propose a new, less narrow-minded plan to achieve an equitable and sustainable power system.

CASM has joined the 600+ organization coalition to Save California Solar. Take action here.

[i] https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-12-13/california-proposes-big-changes-to-rooftop-solar-incentives

[ii] From Sunrun https://d1io3yog0oux5.cloudfront.net/_869d2c0d9f215817794acb8b8c0e4c22/sunrun/db/386/2349/pdf/Sunrun+Statement+on+CA+NEM+Proposal.pdf

[iii] Modeling in CA shows that 1200 kWh of EV battery storage per vehicle per year can be used to store and shift usage of renewable energy production: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1d-d5xAjY3iT7YOg5NOoeqKrwK0wi8zyW/view

[iv] https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/news-and-updates/all-news/cpuc-proposal-aims-to-modernize-state-decarbonization-incentive-efforts

[v] https://calssa.org/blog/2021/12/15/payback-periods

[vi] Bill Powers testimony, https://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/SupDoc/R2008020/3824/393386122.pdf and https://cacommunityenergy.org/the-avoided-cost-calculator-and-why-it-matters/

[vii] https://clean-coalition.org/policy/transmission-access-charges/

[viii] https://www.vibrantcleanenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/VCE-CCSA_CA_Report.pdf and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnuZgqIc9JQ&t=1451s

[ix] https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-07-12/california-flex-alert-power-grid-heat-wildfire

[x] https://www.vox.com/2021/8/18/22556193/solar-energy-biodiversity-birds-pollinator-land and https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-01-21/biden-priorities-climate-conservation-collide-california-desert

[xi] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232034.g002 https://ca.audubon.org/conservation/solar-power

[xii] Forty percent of EV owners have or intend to install solar per California Vehicle Rebate Program survey

Thank You 2019 Donors!!

You made all the difference in our ability to exist in 2020. Thank you thank you thank you!! If you donated to us, you, yes you, are the reason we survived despite the pandemic.

Thank you to our 2019 donors:

  • Judy Abdo
  • Mudita Bahadur
  • Tara Barauskas
  • Bow Seat Awareness Programs
  • William Burrington
  • John D. and Teresa G. Calahan
  • James Conn
  • Barbara Filet
  • Gina Garcia
  • Anna Gibson
  • Nancy Greenstein
  • Cris Gutierrez
  • Kurt Holland
  • Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles – Doran Fund
  • Benjamin Kay
  • William Kelly and Tomas Fuller
  • Kathleen Kennedy
  • Katharine King
  • Dean Kubani
  • Robert Lempert
  • Levin Gruber Fund
  • Janet McKeithen
  • Dustin Peterson
  • Santa Monica DOG
  • Sarah Kilpatrick and Laurene von Klan
  • Kent Strumpell
  • Amy and Paul Sullivan
  • Linda J. Sullivan
  • Ali Tariq
  • Tatiana von Klan
  • Garrett Wong
  • Natalya Zernitskaya
  • Randall L. Ziglar
  • Marcia J. Zimmer
  • John Zinner

Looking Back at 2020 and Looking Ahead

In  2020, Climate Action Santa Monica, like everyone else, adapted and shifted gears. While we stayed focused on the climate crisis, we expanded our work on personal levels and organizationally to do what we can for undoing racism, helping our community through the pandemic, and rallying the vote.  

We hold most dear our commitment to youth — those who participate in our Climate Corps, coming up to its 6th year.  Despite budget cuts and lockdowns, we keep the program going.  No longer able to send the kids to public events for“climate conversations” we helped them build their own voice as advocates with the City, role models to their peers, and project leaders. They developed individual and team projects using social media, working in gardens, exploring solutions to extreme heat events, and more. We are thankful for support from the City of Santa Monica and Metabolic Studios/Annenberg Foundation, without which this would not have been possible.  

This difficult period also demanded that we stay on top of the numerous policy issues that  these times brought with them: for example, how to have safe socially distanced transportation. It was a busy time for policy.

CASM is proud to say that we are locally focused. Climate change must be addressed at the federal level, but what we do here at home is something that we can have more control over to make change. We are committed to helping Santa Monica be a leadership community that demonstrates that positive community supported change on behalf of a better future for the planet is possible.

We hope that you will support us as we move forward with LOCAL programs to reduce the city’s carbon emissions through policy, public engagement, and urban planning and youth leadership.

As we look ahead to 2021, our efforts will be focused on the following:

  • New clean energy technology – Solar, Electric Vehicles, etc.
  • Clean and Green Mobility
  • Expanding Climate Corps to a year-round, more robust program
  • Grow our team of Climate Enthusiasts!

More detail on our 2020 Accomplishments, to date, is below.

Thank you,

CASM Steering Committee

Donate to Climate Action Santa Monica

Your financial contribution makes our work possible and we appreciate your support.

2020 Accomplishments

Supported preservation of funding  and staffing for the most important climate change-related programs during budget cuts.

Supported and participated in development of amendments to the Bicycle Action Plan to provide additional protected Bike Lanes and help reduce Santa Monica’s transportation related carbon emissions.

Developed working relationships with mobility providers and innovators including Lyft, Spin, and the Zero Emissions Delivery Zone (project of LA CleanTech Incubator) for the purposes of expanding low-carbon mobility options. 

Fostered climate conversation through:

Worked to increase renewable energy availability and options through:

  • Solar Resources for Renters handbook with the City of Santa Monica
  • Solar for Condominiums Webinar co-hosted with the City of Santa Monica and SUNRUN Inc.
  • Formation of an Energy Working Group to evaluate and plan for energy related programs and initiatives
  • Recruited and supported 18 Climate Corps participants
  • Re-shaped the program for COVID safety to include year-round participation in climate education, career development opportunities and paid internships.
  • Supported team and individual projects including upcycling, gardening, creative communications, eco-art, climate games and urban heat island strategies
  • Hired new Climate Corps Coordinator
  • Created Climate Corps Handbook
  • Compiled data from more than 1500 Climate Corps survey encounters from previous years, with findings on transportation preferences, preferences for climate action and identifying communication strategies.

SAMOCAN (Santa Monica Climate Action Network)

Donate to Climate Action Santa Monica

Your financial contribution makes our work possible and we appreciate your support.

Electric Bikes – A Climate Solution. Your Voice needed 10-12-20.

Transportation is our city’s biggest opportunity and our biggest challenge for reducing our carbon footprint.  60% of Santa Monica’s Green House Gases (GHGs) come from transportation.  Thankfully, Santa Monica is a compact city with a rich variety of shops, services and entertainment within easy reach by bike, transit, scooter and even walking.  The average trip in Santa Monica is under 3 miles and relatively flat, very doable on a bike.

Electric bikes (ebikes) make this even easier, providing gentle assistance for getting up hills, dealing with headwinds or helping you get someplace quicker without breaking a sweat.  Lyft is bringing rental ebikes back to Santa Monica.  Shortly after Uber pulled the popular Jump ebikes from our streets earlier this year, Lyft acquired the system and re-branded it.  Soon, up to 500 Lyft ebikes will be available for rental here.  https://www.dailybreeze.com/2020/09/28/lyft-to-launch-ebike-service-in-santa-monica/

Photo courtesy for Lyft.com

Ebikes and scooters are super-efficient electric vehicles because they use only a tiny fraction of the power and resources of  full-size EVs, and of course they have no emissions.  Their light weight and small tires mean ebikes create barely any tire and brake dust, which are significant particulate pollutants that all cars produce.  And the battery pack in a typical ebike is less than 1/100th the size of a typical EV’s battery.  Talk about resource efficiency!  For those who prefer to own their own, most bike shops carry a variety of ebike models now.  Take one for a test ride!

Of course many people are reluctant to ride bikes because of concerns about sharing the road with motor vehicles.  Numerous surveys have found that a majority of people would be willing to use a bike more if they felt safe.  Thankfully Santa Monica has one of the best bikeway networks in Southern CA.  But even this has its gaps and challenges.

To take our bikeway network to the next level, Santa Monica is planning to add several new protected bike lanes throughout the city in coming years through an amendment to our city’s Bike Action Plan.  This will create a backbone network of low-stress routes, separated from cars, making travel by bike, scooter and ebike an even more inviting way to get around!  The Bike Plan amendment will be coming before our city council this Tuesday, October 12, 2020.  Learn more about the updated plan here.

Help CASM voice our support for the Bike Action Plan by emailing us at climateactionsantamonica@gmail.com You can also email the council or phone in to voice your support directly. Contact info is here.

Mobility solutions are climate solutions!

Spring Mixer Brings Climate Champions Together

Climate Action Santa Monica hosted our Spring Mixer on June 9th at the Victorian on Main St., bringing together friends and colleagues to socialize, network and recognize the vital contributions made by two steering committee members who have moved into new roles.

Katharine King was honored for her leadership as a founder of CASM and her years of service as Co-Chair.  Katharine brought her long experience in event production to help organize CASM’s Climate Summits and Forums and has been our group’s organizational rock as co-chair. 

Zac Gaidzik was recognized for his inventive work developing and leading our Climate Corps youth-based climate awareness program. “Its about people”, was his reminder to all of us as we continue our work encouraging friends, family and policymakers to take action on the climate crisis, stressing the power of our personal connections.  

CASM co-chairs Cris Gutierrez and Laurene von Klan highlighted our recent accomplishments and the work we plan to do in the coming years:  expansion of the Climate Corps, more educational forums and new initiatives such as our Solar Brunch project, which are neighbor-to-neighbor gatherings that demystify the process and options for producing solar power on homes.  All of these programs bring our community together to support the city’s ambitious new Climate Action and Adaptation plan. 

CASM is also focused on building its capacity — with more funding, volunteers and skills.  There are numerous ways that you can participate and our success depends on friends like you, so if you are interested, please get in touch!  
And a final thank you goes to the Victorian for so graciously hosting us in their beautiful space!

City to Adopt New Climate Plan

The City of Santa Monica staff will present the city’s second Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to City Council in late May. The Plan focuses on objectives in three sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Zero Net Carbon Buildings, Zero Waste, and Sustainable Mobility. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of city residents, businesses and visitors by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 and set us on a path to eliminate the city’s effective carbon emissions by 2050. 

Over the last several weeks Climate Action Santa Monica has reviewed the draft document and provided dozens of ideas and suggestions to support developing a visionary plan with concrete objectives. In addition, the city received hundreds of comments during its online public comment period. Those comments and the city’s responses, as well as the plan itself, are available online here.

An important theme in the Plan is resilience, which refers to Santa Monicans’ ability to respond to, and come together, and thrive even when faced with adverse conditions such as extreme heat and weather events. The impacts of climate change tend to hit people who are economically or physically vulnerable most deeply. Solutions that are equitable to all citizens and neighborhoods are an integral part of the plan’s vision. 

The key to the plan’s success will be how deeply the city’s residents, businesses, visitors and other stakeholders support the plan’s goals and strategies.  This will depend on people making climate-aware choices, such as choosing to bike or take transit rather than driving, or considering the impact of their food choices, what to choose for their next vehicle or deciding if installing solar is right for them. CASM’s outreach programs will be accelerating our community’s understanding of the role that each of us play and how to maximize our efforts.

If you are interested in helping CASM work to bring the new Climate Plan to life, please contact us.


There’s a New Brunch in Town: Solar

Ed Begley, Jr. shared his experiences with solar power at Solar Brunch, a new initiative that gets neighbors talking to neighbors about an important climate change solution.

Are you curious about solar power and want to hear how it has worked out for people in your neighborhood? Maybe you have solar, love it and would be willing to share your experience with others?  If so, read on!

Rooftop solar has been around for a while and it is now more relevant than ever.  As one of the top ten steps that can be taken to address climate change, rooftop solar has the potential to prevent billions of pounds of carbon from being spewed into the atmosphere. It’s no surprise that here in Santa Monica, where we have abundant sun, solar power plays a big role in meeting our city’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. 

For many homeowners, solar can make sense. It reduces their electrical bills, pays for itself over time and increases home values. Others install it because it allows them to do something meaningful to address the climate crisis.  Still others see it as a form of energy independence and security — they generate their own power and with battery storage can offset higher peak period rates and keep their homes running during power outages. 

With so many benefits, you would think more people would go solar. But as it turns out many people feel uncertain about it.  Unbiased information from neighbors who have installed solar can help them understand what’s involved.  But in many cases, people don’t even know that their neighbors have solar.

That fact inspired Climate Action Santa Monica to see if they can help by connecting neighbors who have solar with those who are interested in it.

“We started collecting quotes from neighbors who have solar and like it, then we invited people to come hear about their experience,” said Laurene von Klan, a member of CASM’s Steering Committee. “And we turned it into something fun, social and not a sales pitch. We invited them to brunch!” 

Thus, the first Solar Brunch was hosted on March 9th, partnering with Solar Santa Monica, a city program that offers resources for people who are considering solar power.  After a presentation on how residential installations work, local solar professionals answered questions and helped people analyze their homes’ solar potential.  A photo display illustrated the diverse configurations possible. The Office of Sustainability explained how solar and electric vehicles can work together.  And of course neighbors chatted with each other, sharing what they’ve learned and answering questions. 

“We’re hoping these neighbor-to-neighbor conversations will help a hundred more homes install solar,” says von Klan. More solar brunches are planned in coming months.

For information about these upcoming events contact us at: climateactionsantamonica@gmail.com.

Reference: Why do people put solar on their roofs? Because other people put solar on their roofs,” by Chris Mooney, Washington Post, October 23, 2014.

The Climate Corps 2018 Apprenticeship Application is Live!

CASM Climate Corps Apprenticeship 2018 — Apply Now!

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” —U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, Juliana v. U.S. (Our Children’s Trust Climate Lawsuit)

Climate Action Santa Monica invites high school and college students to apply for the CASM Climate Corps Apprenticeship 2018 program.

Do you know a young person ready to take initiative to be a bright face of the future and an engaging presence for a safe climate and true sustainability? This summer, the CASM Climate Corps 2018 Apprenticeship is open to high school and college students committed to caring for the biosphere and helping to create a resilient community. Different from an internship, we are emphasizing ongoing learning experiences to enhance individual pursuits and imaginative teamwork, so that each Climate Corps Apprentice will communicate with diverse people living, studying, working or visiting in Santa Monica about the impact of climate change on our lives, showcasing actions that each person, family, neighborhood or group can take and sharing available Santa Monica, regional or state resources.

If you are willing to challenge yourself and energize your thinking and talents to be a part of the CASM Climate Corps 2018, please submit an application. Early bird deadline is Wednesday, June 6, at 6 p.m. (Pacific Time). Deadline is Friday, June 8, at 6 p.m. (Pacific Time).

Interviews will be conducted on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10, unless otherwise arranged for those with special circumstances.

Partnering with the City of Santa Monica and others, in two years, the Climate Corps has garnered much attention and appreciation. As Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole has attested, investing in the Climate Corps, is “probably the most cost-effective use of taxpayers funds that you will find anywhere in Southern California because this was fueled by more than the stipends that the participants received. It was fueled by their youthful passion and belief in a cause much bigger than themselves. I’ve been inspired by their talents, their caring.”

Year three promises to be inspirational in powerful, joyful ways. Apply!

If you have questions, email us at climateactionsantamonica@gmail.com or reach out to Cris Gutierrez at crispeace@earthlink.net.