Oct 30, 2019
by Merrilyn Joyce
On Oct 7, 2019 Healdsburg joined Petaluma, Windsor, Cloverdale and the County, along with 21 other California cities and 1,143 other local governments in 19 countries by recognizing that our changing climate is indeed an emergency; and declaring that government can play an important role in developing policy while empowering and incentivizing the business community, non-profits, and all residents to take action.
The resolution reads in part, “City Council of the City of Healdsburg declares that a climate emergency threatens humanity and the natural and built environments” and that “Healdsburg joins a nationwide call for a just transition away from fossil fuels and an urgent collaborative climate mobilization effort focused on enacting policies that dramatically reduce heat-trapping emissions, and rapidly catalyzing a mobilization at all levels of government to restore a safe climate...”
In 2014, the U.S. organization, Climate Mobilization, began advocating for emergency climate action. They also helped shape the Green New Deal, and the Climate Emergency Declaration, currently in the U.S. House and Senate. Their website, www.theclimatemobilization.org has a wealth of great background information. For example, discover how America compares with other countries: in Britain 80% of the population is covered by declared CER’s; 100% in Canada, 74% in New Zealand, 6.8% in the US.
But wait, in 2005 Sonoma County lead the nation, with all 9 governments passing resolutions calling for steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)! Yet 15 years later Sonoma County has fallen far short of those ambitious goals; the changes in the biosphere have increased exponentially and the predictions for a livable future grown more dire. We love our children who are marching in the streets demanding adults take their futures seriously, so why do we fail to mobilize with drastic actions?
During public comment on the night of the CER, the first speaker pointed to the gap between what the world science community is saying and what is emotionally or politically feasible.
The next speaker called tourism our untouchable sacred cow. When Healdsburg approved another hotel development in the North Entry Area Plan it triggered a lawsuit for failing to account for carbon emissions generated by foreign and domestic hotel travelers. Will the Council correct this omission in future environmental reports; will they address limiting the growth of tourism in the strategic plan? Other tourist-related climate impacts currently not measured: low wage hospitality workers who can’t afford Healdsburg’s rents are forced to commute; 24-hour hotel operations; additional impacts from a sizable Sonoma County airport expansion.
A third speaker suggested the city measure all future decisions against a climate impact check list. He said adopting a Reach Code would be a statement of the council’s seriousness.
At the October 21 meeting, the Council took an important step when they discussed the energy Reach Code, a 2020 ordinance for new construction aimed at reducing GHG sources from the energy use of buildings. Electricity generates approximately 15% less pollution than gas fuel. Council members favored the compromise option presented to them by the City’s utility conservation analyst, Felecia Smith, requiring new construction be built with electrical space and water heating but allowing natural gas for cooking and fireplaces. The Council then directed staff to study how to build more momentum for “all electric” in new construction via in lieu fees, or other enticements.
So, we’ve declared climate is an emergency, now what? Nina Simmons, co-founder of Bioneers, (connecting people with solutions and each other, since 1990) offers this advice, “All of the innovative environmental solutions and strategic social models alone won’t be enough to alter our collective course. What’s ultimately required is a change of heart, a shift in how we relate to each other, and to the whole of the living earth."
“First it might help to stop idolizing rational intelligence to the exclusion of our other capacities. Fortunately we have an abundance of relational intelligence to learn from, if only we can humbly accept it’s tutelage. The natural world is resplendent with symbiotic long-term reciprocal relationships. May we practice being still and really listening to ourselves, to each other, and to the gentle whispers of the ancient intelligence of the living earth. If we can do that we will build a contagious energy that will ultimately lead to real healing and restoration. The restoration of our wholeness as a global community."
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