Climate Action Committee
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Bill Hocker | Jun 1, 2022

Update. 5/31/22
NVR 5/31/22: Napa County, cities consider teaming up for climate action plan

From the article:
    "Development projects between now and the creation of a climate action plan must still comply with state environmental laws, county Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison said"

Those are the same laws that have led to a booming industry in LEED-blessed buildings that, with "bicycle-rack" mitigations, have done nothing to halt the exponential rise in GHGs over the last decade. If, instead, the director had announced a moratorium on building permits and deforestation proposals (ECPs) until a regional climate action plan was in place (perhaps like the one in Sonoma), the private sector might be encouraged to put money and energy into the climate action plan process that seems a bit plodding at present.

Even better, of course, would be a moratorium on such development until measurable GHG levels actually begin to decline. That might encourage a sincere effort on the part of developers to fund the search for solutions that work.

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 following 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. By 2016, Sonoma County had created a Regional Climate Protection Authority and a plan.

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.

Declaring an emergency is, of course, 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 jurisdiction) is slow, and they spend enormous amounts of time on procedure 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 un-exercised 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.

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