The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in December, 2007, to join the Cities for Climate Protection campaign. Now, a year later, the county is making progress in implementing climate change strategies.
By joining this international campaign, the county united with more than 700 local governments worldwide that have pledged to follow a five-step process: inventory greenhouse gas emissions, set an emissions-reduction target, create a plan to reduce emissions, implement the plan and monitor the results.
The staff of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) is conducting the first step – the inventory of emissions – and will soon present their findings to the supervisors.
The city of Eureka has also joined Cities for Climate Protection and is working with RCEA on its inventory. The city of Arcata has been a member since 2000 and is currently working on the fourth step, implementation.
The next step for the County and for Eureka will be the setting of reduction targets. If they use the target set forth in AB-32, the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act – reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – it means cutting about 15 percent from today’s levels.
However, more drastic emissions cuts may be necessary since the original 2020 goal is no longer considered to be enough.
The California Air Resources Board has stated, “According to climate scientists, California and the rest of the developed world will have to cut emissions by 80 percent from today’s levels to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and prevent the most severe effects of global climate change.”
A California Executive Order reflects that long-range goal and requires an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2050.
How can Humboldt County achieve such a goal in greenhouse gas reduction? Transportation is one of the most important but also one of the most difficult areas to achieve reductions. It therefore is critical to plan future development that makes it easier for larger numbers of people to travel to work, schools and shopping without using their personal vehicles.
The process of updating the County General Plan is right now setting policy that will guide the county’s growth and development for the next 20 years. Since there are no specific state greenhouse gas reduction regulations for local governments outside of large metropolitan areas, it is up to the citizenry to demand that the Plan accommodate these reductions.
Although the draft General Plan does refer to a climate action plan that is related to the Cities for Climate Protection process, it is not likely that the official Climate Action Plan will be ready before the adoption of the General Plan Update.
Because of the lack of direct mandates to local governments for greenhouse gas reduction, citizen participation is needed. People who are concerned about the greenhouse gas impacts of future development in Humboldt County are encouraged to comment on the General Plan and join citizen committees addressing this issue.
The county resolution to join the Cities for Climate Protection campaign specifies that a Citizens Advisory Group be established to oversee reduction plan development. Contact your County Supervisor to join this Citizen’s Advisory Group: (707) 476-2384.
Submit your comments on the General Plan Update