Extreme Drought Hits Hard as New Water Program Debuts in Sebastopol

June 7, 2021

As California enters a third year of drought, Bay Area communities are mobilizing to reduce water use.

In the City of Sebastopol that includes joining to help its residents save water and lower their utility bills.

“Sebastopol had the foresight to be the first Bay Area city to enroll in this program, before the drought was declared,” said Vice Mayor Sarah Glade Gurney, noting the City’s January 2021 decision, which enables its water customers to install water efficiency upgrades with little-to-no upfront cost using an on-bill charge that is significantly lower than the estimated savings — so they begin saving right away. Continue reading

Pulling Carbon Out of The Air to Protect Our Climate

April 22, 2021

Climate action is about more than reducing the pollution being released into our atmosphere. While our primary work has been focused on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and turning to carbon-free sources, we will also need to focus on removing GHGs that are already in our atmosphere. This is especially true if we want to move fast enough to become carbon neutral by 2030.

As part of the Climate Emergency Resolution adopted by the RCPA Board in September 2019, we developed a Sonoma Climate Mobilization Strategy. The overall goal of the strategy is to quickly reduce GHG emissions and to capture and store the remaining atmospheric carbon dioxide in order to reach net zero emissions by 2030. This goal is known as reaching “carbon neutrality” and is shared by many current climate action plans. In short, we need to reduce what we produce (GHG emissions), and then store away any excess emissions to reduce the long-term global warming potential of these atmospheric gasses. Continue reading

Taking Carbon Out of the Equation

November 20, 2020

Our world is still largely run on fossil fuels. From petroleum-fueled cars to natural gas stoves, we have relied on burning things to get energy from the beginning of human history. Decarbonization means turning a new page in our evolution, where we stop relying on fire and start using smarter, cleaner forms of energy.

Decarbonization means eliminating carbon dioxide from energy sources, and pulling this off will require a careful reworking of many of our systems. The good news is that we have proven solutions to decarbonize most of the activities that produce the majority of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

Mobilizing Climate Action in Sonoma County

August 18, 2020

As the threats of devastating wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs loom over Sonoma County again this summer, the message is clear: Climate action cannot wait. The Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) is stepping up with a 2030 Climate Emergency Mobilization Strategy, which was presented to the RCPA Board of Directors at its August 10 meeting.

Responding to growing calls for expedited local action, the ten-year strategy will define a suite of policies that can deliver the greatest and most immediate impact on local emissions — focusing on actions that need countywide coordination. Continue reading

Strategies for a Green COVID Recovery

August 4, 2020

Incorporating programs and initiatives that boost the economy while also addressing issues facing the environment will allow for the world’s growth to be strong and resilient. A recent survey from IPsos MORI showed that “65% of respondents globally support a green recovery and consider it important that government actions prioritize climate change;” and these statistics have been reflected in the various green recovery proposals from countries throughout the world. Strategies for how to incorporate these actions into COVID recovery are from across all sectors: transportation, buildings, finance and more. Continue reading

Climate progress in latest Sonoma County data, but more needed by 2030

July 12, 2020

The latest Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory for Sonoma County shows that community based annual emissions in 2018 were 13% below 1990 levels, with more progress needed to meet Sonoma County’s 2020 goal of 25% below 1990 levels. The new report from the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) uses the most recently available data showing that Sonoma County emitted 3.41 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MT CO2e) in 2018. This was slightly lower than the 2015 emissions of 3.44 MT CO2e measured in the previous inventory. Continue reading

Who benefits from a resilient recovery?

June 11, 2020

Since January 2020, COVID-19 has dramatically changed everyday life for people all across the world. Now we face multiple challenges to fight against a virus and recover from an economic crash. Both of these challenges are set against the backdrop of a climate emergency and systemic social inequities.

In the face of rising COVID-19 fatalities, record-high unemployment, and public demonstrations, we urgently need a way to recover our physical, social, and economic well-being. As we search for answers, we also need to ask: “Can the world afford to pay attention to climate change and the broader sustainability agenda at this time? Continue reading

RCPA Year in Review – 2019

December 30, 2019

So much has changed in 2019. For the RCPA, it seems like the conversation around the climate crisis has changed most of all. At the start of the year, an October 2018 United Nations report sounded the alarm that we must sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; while Greta Thunberg, who was just named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, was not yet a household name. Continue reading

Entering the Era of the Climate Emergency

September 5, 2019

Have you heard a news report, or maybe a friend, saying we have 10-12 years to act on climate change?

In late 2018, many headlines about the latest United Nations climate report warned that we have until 2030 to sharply reduce emissions or face disruption of essential social systems. That warning seems to have stuck in people’s minds more than all the previous reports.

We are now witnessing the beginning of a logical response to this crisis as over 985 local governments representing over 212 million people in 18 countries have declared a climate emergency. Continue reading

2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update

July 12, 2018

The 2015 GHG Inventory Update is now available (PDF, 2.6 MB). The Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) established a baseline communitywide Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory for 2010 and a back cast inventory for 1990 as part of the Climate Action 2020 and Beyond plan. The RCPA completed this 2015 inventory update to help track progress towards achieving our short and long-term emissions reduction goals.

Sonoma County Emissions in 2015 remain 9% below 1990 levels, while countywide population grew 4% and gross domestic product (GDP) increased 22%. This local trend of GDP and population growth decoupling from emissions is encouraging and in-line with statewide trends. Yet, without increasing the speed at which our county reduces GHG emissions, we will not achieve the countywide reduction goal of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. Continue reading

Preliminary 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Update

April 18, 2018

Earth Day is a time to celebrate the natural beauty of our planet and reflect on what we can do to keep the planet healthy. This sneak peak of Sonoma County’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2015 reveals successes and focuses our attention on areas we need to improve.

The Sonoma County preliminary greenhouse gas inventory update for 2015 shows countywide emissions to be about 9% below 1990 levels in 2015, very similar to total emissions for 2010. This reduction of emissions occurred while Sonoma County’s population and economy grew. A comprehensive 2015 greenhouse gas inventory update, with a breakdown of jurisdiction specific emissions, will be released this summer. This full report will dive deeper into steps needed to achieve our emissions reduction goals outlined in Climate Action 2020, while examining emissions at the city-scale. Continue reading