Climate Emergency Declared in Sonoma County

Board of Supervisors Takes Giant Leap for Climate Action
September 20, 2019
Sonoma County

On Tuesday, September 17th, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, comprised of representatives from five districts, committed to prioritizing climate action in Sonoma County. A unanimous vote confirmed the countywide decision to declare climate emergency, allowing officials to delegate more time, money and resources towards mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing waste and preserving the natural environment. 

Some Sonoma County cities, like Windsor and Petaluma, had already taken the responsibility of declaring a climate emergency. While their efforts have been successful, county unity will initiate further progress and accomplishments. With agreement among board members and the inclusion of cities with prior experience, there are sure to be apparent shifts in the near future.

Throughout the meeting, board members shared their personal statements, visions, and expectations. A common sense of determination and urgency was evident as the discussion unfolded. “I don`t want to not do something today,” Fifth District Representative Lynda Hopkins passionately stated after expressing her reasons for concern. “My seven-month-old son is going to experience more of what is happening to this planet than I am”. This worry for generations to come is a commonality among many parents today.

In addition to fear of future conditions, occurrences of past ailments were also addressed. Wildfires, droughts and floods have directly affected many community members over the past five years. Through the devastation, Sonoma County residents have proven their resiliency and commitment to environmental betterment.

Caitlin Cornwall of Sonoma Ecology Center, North Bay for Adaptation Initiative and Rebuild North Bay Environmental Council spoke on behalf of the MAP OneSonoma Environment Team, funded through the Sonoma County Community Foundation, which includes Dr. Judith Ford of SSU's Center for Environmental Inquiry. “There is an enormous amount of climate expertise and passion in the Sonoma County community among our non-government organizations, faith groups and community action groups that can take the county`s resources and authority so much farther”. These groups are determined to make a change under the guidance of government leaders.

Many of the public urged even more ambitious goals, in line with current climate science. In discussing how long we had to act, SSU Professor, Dr. José Javier Hernández Ayala of our Climate Research Center, was quoted as saying we have zero "carbon budget" left.

This bold step towards resiliency and sustainability exemplifies just how serious local government is about improving Sonoma County culture in regards to climate protection. “I think it is a natural shift at this point and time” said Board of Supervisors Chair David Rabbitt. “It’s going forward; the responsible thing to do”. 

Implementing this resolution is merely the ground level of a multifaceted project requiring continuous efforts. Near the end of the climate conversation, Representative Susan Goran questioned how changes will be made within departments, how measurable goals will be adopted, how behavior will be changed and what investments must be made. These are all valid points that will be addressed in future board meetings and possibly through discussions within specific ad hoc groups. 

There are many ways to stay updated on local government and agencies involved in climate action. Follow the links below to learn more.

Learn More 

Board of Supervisors meeting Video 

“Sonoma County Declares Climate Emergency” press release 

County of Sonoma Recovery and Resiliency Framework