A demand for local action on the world climate emergency

Posted on August 16, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

To members of the Sonoma City Council

I am writing to urge you to take immediate action on addressing the world climate emergency and specifically, that you ensure that Sonoma is doing its fair share of the work. Fair share meaning that regardless of who else is doing what, that Sonoma now and in the future pulls its full proportionate weight in climate mitigation.

By immediate action I mean:

One, educating yourselves on exactly where Sonoma stands on concrete goals the city has to: act on its Climate Emergency Resolution (CER), Climate Action Plan (CAP), and to reach net zero emissions (for the whole city) by 2030.

Two, with the same haste that you are able to appeal a Plaza event, address an emergency that the city has a part in creating. Climate meetings and actions appear to be continually postponed and delayed. Business as usual will not suffice when clear and forceful data calling for transformational change is in: leaders need to act now.

Three, acting now can mean you use your powers to agendize a joint public meeting with the CSEC ASAP. At his joint meeting the city can take stock of the adequacy of its plans. How to act on city goals with emergency haste can be discussed. In council member comments Monday night 8/16/21, someone please propose to agendize an emergency climate meeting ASAP.

Four, the city is in a unique position to have a Sustainability Coordinator. The council should in clear terms, express that they value this staff work and support work that aims at meeting the city’s climate goals with all due haste. If this means authorizing some overtime work, or three quarter time, so be it.

Five, the CER, CAP, and the RCPA all claim to see the need to “put climate in all policy.” Steps need to be taken to act on these words. It is not acceptable to have documents and goals filled with weasel word terms that allow the city to not act up to the level needed. As Greta Thunberg recently said, the “gap between rhetoric and reality is growing wider and wider.” “We won’t be able to solve a crisis that we don’t treat as a crisis.”

Yes, the city cannot solve the global warming crisis with 11,000 people in two square miles. But the city can do the work required so that if all municipalities and people did the same, we would be addressing the full cost accounting scope of our emissions. The formula is simple: ALL city-caused energy use and emissions have to be accounted for; the city and its residents have to own their full cost role in this global problem.

Full cost accounting means precisely that, for example, Sonoma’s share of cross-border transportation impacts needs to be accounted for. If the city has a high percent of jet-setting residents and visitors, what are the climate impacts of that? Who owns that carbon footprint?

What we as concerned valley residents strongly desire is to see our leaders have serious political will commensurate with the scope of the climate crisis. You have the power to make policy and to direct staff action. Please use that power now. Incontrovertible data justifies serious action. I ask you to stand and be counted. Make Sonoma an example others can follow.

If residents can’t feel that city and valley governments are doing the collective utmost fair share of justified climate work needed to forestall future catastrophic warming, this makes all our stewardship a failure.

Very best regards,

— Fred Allebach, chair of the Sonoma Community Services and Environment Commission; member Sonoma Valley Housing Group


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