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Palmer Benson, 10, holds a “Save the planet” sign up at the rally in Encinitas. Photo by Tony Cagala
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Groups rally in support of Paris climate talks

ENCINITAS — Hope, car horns and ideas to combat climate change all filled an Encinitas intersection on Sunday just as world leaders were readying to meet this week at the United Nations conference on climate change, otherwise known as COP21, in Paris, France.

Of the dozens of people attending the rally, most expressed hope that something good would come out of the conference talks, but realized that any immediate changes would have to come from a more local level.

It was a message buoyed by two local elected officials, Encinitas Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, both who attended and spoke at the rally.

Having people speak up makes a big difference, Blakespear said.

“Elected officials hear your voices,” she said. “We hear you at the federal level and we need to hear you loud and clear at the local level.”

Addressing local issues that are impacting climate change, Blakespear recounted the city’s ban on plastic bags and its more recent attempt to place an ordinance on the use of Styrofoam food service products.

While the Styrofoam ordinance has been temporarily shelved to better address opposition coming from restaurant owners and the California Restaurant Association who say it would be too expensive to switch to alternative packaging, it’s expected to return to the council at some point.

Lowery noted Oceanside’s attempt to ban plastic bags a couple of months ago, however, that vote failed. Lowery said he’s hoping that once the ban issue comes up again, the City Council will be able to ensure enough support to pass it.

He said in regards to Oceanside’s actions on climate change, the city is moving forward on a climate action plan.

“City staff is taking an inventory right now of all of the things in the city that will impact climate change,” he said.

That inventory process is expected to take about a year to complete, and once done, Lowery said, they’ll integrate the climate plan into the city’s upcoming general plan revision.

As cars continued to honk horns in support of the rally, Nitza, a longtime North County resident who preferred only to give her first name, said she’s been a part of rallies like Sunday’s since the ‘70s.

The point she was making: “That after 40 years, we’re all still out here. The voices are just getting louder and louder and nothing’s been done. And now it’s almost beyond the point of no return — almost,” she said.

“If the world leaders can just continue to be bought by the oil lobby and not pay attention to what people are saying, then we really live in an inexcusable world,” she added.

Emily Dudley, 31, said her it was her concern with the way the world is going that brought her out to the rally. Her goal — to show community members, the people driving by that might be business owners, that there are a lot of people that care about clean energy.

“And they say, ‘Maybe I can make a buck and help the planet if we make some changes.’ So I’m here to act local,” she said. “I definitely support the climate talks in Paris, and we all have to do our part on our own level. And this is my level.”

Sunday’s rally was organized by the North County Climate Change Alliance, a nonprofit with the intention of educating local communities about climate change.

The alliance, which includes groups from cities as Escondido, Fallbrook, Encinitas and Solana Beach, formed around two years ago, but has really taken off in the last eight months, said Rolf vom Dorp, an organizer with the alliance.

“It’s a number of organizations that are coming together, above all, because they realize how serious this situation is.”