The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17 declared a climate emergency, which passed as part of the consent calendar at its regular meeting.
More than 1,000 local governments representing 219 million people in 19 countries have issued resolutions to solidify their commitment to mobilizing an emergency response commensurate with the scale of the climate crisis, a county press release stated.
“Climate change is the most critical issue we face today and we universally are not acting fast enough to avert substantial damage to the economy, environment and human health in the coming decades,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman David Rabbitt. “On a local level, we continue to experience extreme climate-related events, including six years of recent droughts, devastating wildfires and severe flooding. This resolution commits us to reevaluate our existing policies through the lens of a climate emergency and to work with our employees and residents to take action to prevent the distressing impacts of the climate crisis.”
“This is a very emotional topic for me. It’s emotional because I won’t be alive to see the worst impacts of climate change. My 7-month-old son will be the person who experiences way more than I will,“ Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said, choking up. “We don’t have kelp forests from here to Canada. We have whales that are dead and washing up on shore … from eating eel grass because they’re starving.”
Hopkins called for a “dramatic change” to a post-carbon economy. She noted that even the tough standards of global scientific data has shown consistently worse conditions. She also called for a strengthened resolution in the near future.
“We should act like the world is on fire because it is,” she said.
“Here here. Time for action,” District 4 Supervisor James Gore said in response to his fellow supervisors’ passionate remarks.
The adopted resolution includes a directive to partner with Sonoma County’s Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) to fight climate change by developing and implementing the 2030 Climate Emergency Mobilization Strategy, according to a county press release. The strategy will identify key local actions, including a list of the most impactful local policies to drive system changes and identify key areas for state level advocacy.
Formed in 2009, RCPA collaborates with local agencies on setting goals, pooling resources and formalizing partnerships to create local solutions that complement state, federal and private sector actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the release states.
In addition to a partnership with RCPA, the county will use strategies identified in the Recovery and Resiliency Framework, adopted by the Board of Supervisors in December to address the climate crisis. The framework serves as a long-term vision for a resilient future with five strategic areas, including Community Preparedness and Infrastructure, Housing, Economy, Safety Net Services and Natural Resources. The county will work to prioritize the implementation goals in the framework that support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change impacts and promote climate resiliency, the release states.
Next steps include development of possible actions to be considered at the Board of Supervisors’ Strategic Priorities discussion on Jan. 28 along with other Strategic Priorities for 2020. An ad hoc committee will be developing ideas that may go out as requests for proposals to combat climate change in the county level.
“Now it is the time for the county to lead the way,“ with other local institutions Supervisor Susan Gorin said.