Sonoma County, G20 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Public Domain), Garcia-Brown (San Diego Union Tribune)

GHG Limits – We Know What We Need To Do

Over the objections of our most selfish factions, human beings across the planet are finally beginning to unite in cooperation to fight climate change. At all levels, from global to local, a new governance framework for climate action  is materializing.

Saturday’s decision by China and the US, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, to ratify the landmark Paris COP21 accord on climate change heralds a new era of global cooperation on limiting emissions.

In California last week, our legislature, including local Assemblyman Bill Dodd, reversed their previous votes and narrowly passed SB32, locking in Governor Brown’s ambitious, but necessary climate action goals through 2030.

In Sonoma on Thursday night, Dodd said that what changed his mind

was his colleagues’ willingness to link a new bill, Eduardo Garcia’s AB197, to the previously deadlocked SB32.  AB197 requires that when new climate regulations are developed, the social costs and impacts on disadvantaged communities must be considered. It also puts two Members of the Legislature on the California Air Resources Board as non-voting members.

With our neighbors in Lake County suffering devastating wildfires two years in a row, and another hurricane barrelling up the East Coast, we applaud Mr. Dodd for listening and for changing his mind.

Meanwhile, throughout Sonoma County local elected officials and city staff are trying to figure out what to do next, now that our Climate Action 2020 Plan is held up in court. Regardless how long they deliberate, our goals remain set:

25% below 1990 by 2020…  40% by 2030…  80% by 2050.

These goals seem abstract, but the message we really need to understand is actually quite simple:

On average, every city, every business, and every household needs to reduce its emissions by 6% each year through 2020. *

In communities such as the City of Sonoma where collective emissions since 1990 have grown more rapidly than the county average , reductions need to be even more aggressive:

  • 1990 backcast =   96,890 (MTCO2e/yr, CAP Table 5.8-3)
  • 2015 estimate = 117,390 (21% above 1990)
  • 2016 goal = 106,652 (-9%)**
  • 2017 goal = 96,897 (-9%)**
  • 2018 goal = 88,034 (-9%)**
  • 2019 goal =  79,981 (-9%)**
  • 2020 goal =  72,668 (-9%, and reaching 25% below 1990 baseline)
* Personal Communication, Mark Jacobson, Stanford University (April 2016)   

** TSV estimate (XLSX, 20kb, September 2016)

If we meet this aggressive goal in Sonoma by 2020, we will be able to cut our rate of reduction per year through 2030.

How do we get where we know we need to go? Mainly through fewer car trips, making cost-effective investments in more efficient vehicles and buildings, and by switching to 100% renewable electric power. Our Regional Climate Protection Authority will be keeping track of our progress. In the meantime, just let your gasoline and PG&E bills be your guide.

Let’s get to work. Together we can do this!

Montage: Montage: Sonoma County ILG, G20 Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, Public Domain, Garcia (C) San Diego Union Tribune
Green Eiffel Tower (public domain)Image: The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, is illuminated in green to celebrate the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history, on November 4, 2016. 
[Photo by Jean-Baptiste Gurliat/ Mairie de Paris]
By U.S. Dept. of State from United States - Public Domain"

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