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After five months of work, Sebastopol Climate Action gave a presentation at the Nov. 19 Sebastopol City Council meeting, asking the council to adopt a climate emergency resolution.

Speakers included several members of Sebastopol Climate Action, including Sunny Galbraith, as well as several students from Analy and other concerned citizens.

Galbraith noted that the county of Sonoma and four other cities in Sonoma County — Petaluma, Healdsburg, Windsor and Cloverdale — had already passed climate emergency resolutions, a sore point for the Sebastopol City Council, which likes to lead in all things green.

Other members of Sebastopol Climate Action took turns at the podium, fleshing out the action plan the group had developed. Steve Pierce urged the city to require all new construction to use electricity instead of natural gas, a potent greenhouse gas. Conner DeVane suggested the city put “a moratorium on the city accepting anymore applications for fossil fuel infrastructure.” Tor Allen suggested the city hire a climate coordinator. (See their full draft action plan below.)

Sonoma State climate scientist and professor Jose Ayala noted that, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in September, climate change is irreversible. 

“That doesn’t mean there’s nothing that we can do,” he said. “It means that we should be acting way faster than we are now in order to prepare our communities for these events that are going to keep happening … We’re not acting with the urgency this deserves.”

Alas, the wheels of government grind slowly.

Sebastopol Climate Action had submitted a draft climate resolution and a detailed plan of action to the city, but the resolution didn’t make it into the city council’s packet that night, delaying a vote until the next council meeting on Dec. 3.

Eager to move this item forward, the city council created a short-term ad hoc committee to draft its own climate emergency resolution, using Sebastopol Climate Action’s climate resolution as a model.

The council also decided to move on Sebastopol Climate Action’s first action item — the creation of an official city subcommittee on climate change.  This task was also handed off to the just-created ad hoc committee, which Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter and councilperson Sarah Glade Gurney volunteered to head. Gurney said they’d use the Zero Waste Committee as a model to help structure and empanel the new Climate Committee.

 “You’ve done a lot of work," Gurney said, thanking the members of Sebastopol Climate Action. “It would have been great to have done this last May and been the first city in Sonoma County (to do a climate emergency resolution), but I'm grateful that we’re here now,” she said, promising that the council would move with all alacrity to draft and approve a resolution in December.

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