Rohnert Park became the last city in Sonoma County to formally pledge immediate action on climate change earlier this month, making the county the first in the nation where all jurisdictions pledged action to curtail the unfolding, worldwide crisis.
At its March 9 meeting, Rohnert Park’s City Council unanimously approved a “climate emergency resolution,” a document which acknowledges the ongoing and future damages of human-driven climate change and pledges the city to help implement a new framework recently passed by the Regional Climate Protection Agency (RCPA), a countywide agency tasked with confronting climate change.
On March 8, the RCPA board of directors approved a Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy which states the goal of making the county carbon-neutral by 2030. The RCPA’s new goal is more aggressive than the state’s current goal of reducing emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The RCPA began work on the document in late 2019, after the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency resolution of its own.
“We have to stop acting like business as usual is cutting it, because it’s not. We need a transformation. We need a dramatic change. We really have 10 years to dramatically transform ourselves into a post-carbon economy,” West County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said in September 2019, when the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed a countywide climate emergency resolution.
According to the RCPA, Sonoma County has a long way to go to meet the new goal, despite some laudable progress in recent years.
“To meet the Sonoma Climate Mobilization goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, Sonoma County must reduce its GHG emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels and achieve an increase in carbon sequestration that is large enough to remove the remaining CO2 from the atmosphere,” an RCPA report states in part.
Transportation remains the largest source of emissions in the county, followed by emissions tied to buildings and agriculture—specifically from livestock and fertilizer.
The county had reduced emissions by 13% below 1990 levels by 2018, according to the RCPA. The county previously had a goal to bring emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, however it is not yet clear whether the county reached that goal.
Rohnert Park’s declaration commits the city to contributing to creating a Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy, including a 10-year Emergency Policy Package, to identify short-term policy changes which would impact the county’s climate impact.
Acknowledgement is certainly the first step in approaching any challenge, but actions always speak louder than words. Based on the current sources of emissions, the trick to reaching carbon neutrality will be significantly reducing the number of car trips taken in the county.
That’s a tall order given that the majority of the suburban-rural county was designed for car travel in the heady days of the 20th century.