By MARY CALLAHAN
In a bid to elevate community dialogue on the topics of climate change and resilience, Sonoma County supervisors will host a town hall meeting on the conjoined issues next week — part of an effort to engage the public as the board moves “to tackle climate change head-on,” according to Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, the board chair.
The April 6 meeting, to be held on Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook, will feature presentations by county agencies and a variety of local nonprofit and community representatives outlining climate initiatives they’re pursuing to foster a more sustainable planet and curb the manmade carbon emissions that fuel global warming.
“To me, climate change is an existential crisis for our county — more so than many,” Hopkins said. “You know fires and floods are expected to increase in severity as a result of climate change, which affects our county’s literal livability. I’ve had friends move out of the county because of the fires.”
Climate action and resilience were among five topics singled out as key pillar in the five-year strategic plan approved by county supervisors earlier this year. A second one is infrastructure that can withstand the needs and changes of a more volatile future.
The county’s set goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030 through new technologies, adapted infrastructure and maximized carbon sequestration.
County government is also preparing to start the process to hire a climate change chief, Hopkins said.
Supervisor Susan Gorin, who with Hopkins is on the board’s ad hoc climate change committee, rued the fact that the COVID pandemic, along with catastrophic wildfires, have slowed their effort to launch the work by a year or a year and a half.
She and Hopkins said the town hall provides an “an opportunity for communication,” so that people working toward the same goals can more effectively and efficiently collaborate.
“Few know what the agencies are doing,” Gorin said. “Few in government know what the community organizations are working on. It’s a good opportunity to have that exchange of ideas. I’ve always felt that it will take both of those entities to really move us forward.”