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ACTION ALERT: Urge Humboldt County Supervisors to Adopt a Robust Climate Action Plan

Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (PD).

Take action! We need your help to stop Humboldt County from cheating on an incredibly important climate change plan. Take a few seconds to email your Supervisors urging them to adopt a robust Climate Action Plan!

The Plan will outline the steps our County needs to take to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals and fight climate change. For five years, the County has been consulting planners, scientists, and elected officials in order to develop a plan to reduce our emissions quickly and feasibly. Now, at the end of that process, the County has decided to go back on one of the fundamental assumptions underlying the entire planning process. This decision jeopardizes Humboldt County’s ability to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals, and is therefore inconsistent with our values and the planet’s future.

First, some background. California has set targets for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions quickly and to an extent that we avert catastrophic global warming. The targets use 1990 as a baseline year and set target reductions for the years 2030 and 2045. The whole point of Humboldt’s Climate Action Plan is to set out the policies necessary to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions at a fast enough pace to meet these fast approaching targets.

Samoa Pulp Mill.
Samoa Pulp Mill. Photo by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (PD).

So, how is the County planning to cheat these numbers? Well, State guidance specifically advises not to include large “point source” emissions (like mills and factories) in the calculations because these emissions are regulated at the State and federal level, not the county level. So, even if the County wanted to reduce emissions from those sources they’d be barred from doing so. Here in Humboldt County, this provision is particularly important because many of our point sources have stopped emitting in recent years due to changing market conditions, not climate action. For example, the Samoa Pulp Mill no longer operates. Should Humboldt County get credit for those emissions reductions even though the closure was due entirely to shifting market conditions and not intentional climate action?

Up until a few weeks ago, the County’s answer was an unequivocal no. In earlier drafts of the Climate Action Plan, the County acknowledged that counting these market-driven emissions reductions would be misleading and self-defeating. After all, by counting emission reductions that have already occurred unintentionally, the County would be painting a false picture of our emission reduction efforts and downplaythe need to reduce emissions in other sectors.

Now, however, the County seems to have changed its tune. In part due to lobbying by conservative groups, and in part due to a feeling that counting point source emissions will make reaching the 2030 target more achievable, the County has decided the next draft of the Climate Action Plan will include point source emissions.

By counting those accidental emissions reductions, the County is cooking the books to make it appear that we are doing more to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions than we truly are. This is particularly worrying because we have to reduce our emissions as soon as possible in order to avert a climate catastrophe of which we are already starting to feel the effects. Write your elected representatives today and demand that they take climate action seriously!


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