County Supervisors Walk Back Climate Emergency Declaration Promises   

In December 2020, the County adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration with an ambitious 2030 carbon-neutral goal. Among other things, the Declaration directed staff to explain, in the County CAP, how that goal could be reached; and ordered establishment, within 60 days, of a citizen task force to write an emergency plan (the contents of the plan and its relationship to the CAP were not specified). 350 Sacramento and other enviros were delighted.

County proposal would now establish the task force, but as detailed in 350 Sacramento’s written comments and in a Sacramento Bee editorial, the proposal conflicts with and weakens the Declaration’s provisions with no explanation. It gives to the task force work which the Declaration explicitly directed County staff to include in the CAP, but which the County, with substantial consultant support, has been unable to accomplish over the past year; it adds additional difficult work to boot; and it includes neither schedule or target dates for work said to “be conducted with urgency”.

The result is that the planning to reach the 2030 goal and other challenging tasks are assigned to the volunteer citizen group which has no resources other than part-time staff support, and with no commitment as to outcomes or timeframe. The County Sustainability Manager, who will lead the effort, has several other responsibilities, and the proposal describes only staff’s administrative functions. Task force members are appointed for two years with a re-appointment option, so it appears this “emergency” effort will continue indefinitely.

At a March 8 workshop, Supervisors ignored these concerns, only adjusting the membership of the task force, suggesting that stipends be offered to its members, and directing staff to return with the revisions in early March for adoption.

350 Sacramento supports the task force concept. We have long been on record as urging the County to improve its exceedingly weak public participation for the CAP, and we applaud the Supervisors’ addition of Economic Justice and youth members. But as proposed, we’re concerned the Declaration’s work will be bogged down indefinitely in under-funded bureaucratic process, extending further the County’s eleven-year delay on climate action.

350 Sacramento and allies have asked to meet with staff to clarify its expectation for the task force. Because the Climate Emergency Declaration is an independent County initiative, it has no legal requirements, but 350 Sacramento’s comments note that whatever happens with the Declaration, the County’s responsibility to show in the CAP how it will mitigate communitywide greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts and meet State GHG reduction standards remains unaffected.

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