Benicia and Solano County should declare climate emergency

[Editor: UPDATE ON 11 Sept – Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson petitioned her colleagues on the City Council to adopt a Climate Emergency Resolution.  The first step was on Tuesday, September 3, when Council considered whether to approve adding a discussion on this to a future agenda.  The Council chose to schedule a public WORKSHOP on the issue instead, date to be announced.  BACKGROUND: see City Council Agenda, 9/3/2019.  See the Mayor’s attachment Draft Climate Emergency Resolution(based on a resolution adopted by the City of Santa Cruz).
…FROM 27 AUG – the following article serves as a call to action for Benicia and Solano County, indeed for EVERY community.  I challenge our local and County elected officials and staff to immediately set aside time to formulate and pass the necessary ordinances to commit to the goals outlined here by Santa Clara Supervisor Cortese.  “Business as usual” must take a back seat to the crisis that is our climate emergency.  – R.S.]

Why Santa Clara County should declare a climate emergency — A bold commitment would serve as a model for other communities

Mercury News, By Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, August 27, 2019
Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese is pushing the county to serve as a model for other communities in the fight against climate change. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Our county, our country and our world are in the midst of an existential crisis.

In dire times, times that require our immediate attention and action, Santa Clara County has always been a leader. The crusade against climate change is no different.

The County Climate Coalition, a project spearheaded by my office in partnership with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, affirmed the county’s commitment to emission reductions deadlines and called on counties across the nation to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and commit to the goals set forth in the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement — an agreement that our science-denying presidential administration withdrew from in 2017.

At the center of this agreement is the ambitious, yet achievable, goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

Surpassing the climate-reduction goals enacted by California last year, the county is on track to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity for county operations by the end of this year and will be 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2045.

We have stayed on the forefront of the battle against climate change not only because we sit on the San Francisco Bay Area and have much to lose but also because we have the brightest minds in the world leveraging investment capital, research, incentives and regulatory powers. The ardent support and partnerships we have made with grassroots environmental activists have pushed us toward bold action and concrete climate solutions.

Thanks to the support of environmental groups, business associations, labor unions, public health organizations and other community groups, the county has been able to pass aggressive sustainability policies and take bold action to quickly and safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere.

These actions have included pledging that 100 percent of our electrical power originates from clean renewable sources, that our public vehicles are electric, hybrid-electric or run on alternative fuel, that county buildings are LEED certified and energy efficient, that 100 percent of county waste is diverted from landfills and then converted to energy, and vowing to employ 20,000 blue- and white-collar “clean and green workforce” trainees regionally and in the county. This confluence of bright minds and bold activism has made it possible for us to push forth policies that are essential to sustaining human life and dignity.

At our Tuesday meeting, I will call on my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to continue our county’s history of ambitious climate action by voting in favor of a resolution to declare a countywide climate emergency: a partnership with local and global advocates demanding political collaboration and the immediate mobilization of resources at the county, state and worldwide level to combat this environmental crisis.

Our planet, our livelihoods and the livelihoods of generations to come are at stake. A declaration of a climate emergency is not only a commitment to transitioning away from greenhouse gasses, it also sets a powerful example for other communities and calls upon them to join our emergency mobilization effort.

We are at an important junction in our history where folks from all walks of life are uniting behind a global mission to restore the climate for future generations. It is imperative we, as a county, accomplish this goal for the health and well-being not only of our own community but also communities around the world.

Dave Cortese represents District 3 on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.