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We are glad the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has formally declared a climate emergency, joining (according to the Board’s statement) “over 1,000 local governments representing 219 million people in 19 countries.” As stated by Board chair David Rabbitt, “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.”

The next question, of course, is what transformative actions can Sonoma County take that are equal to these words. Sonoma Ecology Center is working with other nonprofits and county staff to make sure this emergency declaration is followed by concrete steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better prepare all members of our community for drought, fire, flood and heat waves.

First and foremost, the county should work on electrifying our buildings and our transportation infrastructure, as this targets our primary emissions sources. County officials can also commit to limiting urban sprawl and fostering wise land management practices.

Information on countywide emissions is easy to find, from this Regional Climate Protection Authority report to this report by the Center for Climate Protection (from which the chart is taken). They show Sonoma County emits around 3.4 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, with the great majority of that (well over two-thirds) coming from transportation. They also show a slight downward trend in emissions over the past few years – a welcome development attributed mainly to the implementation of Sonoma Clean Power.

Our county, state, country and world need more of that trend – as much as possible and as soon as possible.