SodaCanyonRoad | Climate Action Committee

Climate Action Committee
Bill Hocker | Apr 21, 2022 on: Climate Action Plan

NVR 6/1/21: Napa County's Climate Action Committee looking for some 'small wins'

The above article is a bit dated. I have been negligent in not folowing the aftermath of the failure of the years-long effort in the County's 2019 CAP DEIR to meaningfully address the climate crisis we now face.

Natural catastrophes here and around the world have forced the recognition that more was needed than the county alone could achieve, and, in late 2019, the county and municipalities entered into a joint process, the Climate Action Committee to craft a new Climate action Plan. The effort involves once-a-month collegial meetings to digest options a make lists. It is a very deliberative process, infuriatingly slow given that the county has literally been burning down around them as they worked. They still anticipate a year of meetings.

Some significant work has been done in formal recognition of the severity of the problem through private coaxing: The cities of Napa, American Canyon and Calistoga have each declared a climate emergency.

The basic problem, of course, is that declaring an emergency is a lot easier than doing something about it. To achieve the sort of "net zero" reductions in county GHGs needed by 2030, major lifestyle changes have to occur for the county's population, a prospect beyond the legislative power of democratic institutions and processes. The pace of their progress (after 2 years they are discussing how to make current GHG inventories in each jusrisdiction) is slow, and they spend enormous amounts of time on proceedure and minor conservation strategies that may or may not really work. Who knew that leaf-blowers are so detrimental to the future of mankind.

The "small wins" discussed a year ago in the above article seem quite comical given the enormity of change that must occur to really reduce GHG emissions. Unfortunately no one really seems to know what to do to make significant reductions, the "heavy lifting" mentioned in the article, which is perhaps why the work of the CAC seems to be so plodding.

I will suggest one easy-to-understand emergency action that is within governmental power to implement now: stop making the problem worse. Stop approving new development. Urbanization creates GHGs. Napa has been very good about holding off urbanization for 30 of the last 50 years with simple zoning fixes beginning in 1968. (It might be instructive to compare the GHGs generated by Napa County with the GHGs generated by, say, Santa Clara in the these 50 years.) Unfortunately, in the last two decades a "growth" agenda, the same agenda that filled the rest of the Bay Area with GHG producing people, buildings and cars, has taken root and is now beginning to blossom in Napa - into GHG producing tourist attractions, hotels, warehouses, shopping centers, housing projects, road upgrades and vineyard deforestation. Stop it.

And likewise rescind unexercised development approvals to make sure they don't add to the problem. This is an emergency - many scientists now see it as an existential threat to humanity. Treat it as such. Something as bold as the Ag Preserve legislation is needed now more than ever.

Once county leaders have mustered the courage needed to keep the problem from getting worse, perhaps they will be emboldened enough to devise the life-changing strategies actually needed to save us from extinction.