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Moving Forward on Climate Action in Humboldt County

Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change. Public domain image.

Last month, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its much-anticipated sixth assessment report on the climate crisis. The report highlighted the already growing impacts of climate change as extreme weather events (i.e., high-severity wildfires, atmospheric rivers, etc.) continue to worsen. It also noted the timely efforts needed to curb emissions to avoid warming the globe above the critical 1.5-degree mark. According to the report, remaining below this mark would allow us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Yet here in Humboldt, a county defined by its pristine ecosystems and rich biodiversity, climate action-related lawmaking seems to have hit a standstill.

Throughout the country, Climate Action Plans (CAP) have been instrumental tools that cities and counties use to address the climate crisis through policymaking. For those not well versed in regulatory law-making, here’s a brief on how CAPs work: Governments pass these plans to provide “roadmaps for making an informed decision” surrounding decarbonization efforts in their respective jurisdictions. Given their ability to assess and prioritize ways to meet individual reduction goals, they are often considered fundamental pillars of climate action policy.

Locally, however, the journey of our countywide CAP through the bowels of under-staffed bureaucracies and regulatory law has been tragically sluggish (as documented). Despite almost a decade of work going into its passage, recent timelines suggest the final approval will be delayed for at least another year. This delay will leave approximately six years to implement a wide range of ambitious carbon reduction and renewable energy changes before the first 2030 deadline— a timeline many consider to be unrealistic.

While EPIC’s Decarbonize the North Coast campaign continues to support the timely passage and implementation of the CAP, we also realize that action needs to be taken immediately to meet the state-wide goals of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 48% percent below 1990 levels by 2030 (excluding industrial point sources). Furthermore, we believe that beginning this process now is integral to ensuring that decarbonization is equitable and sustainable for all.

In the coming months, EPIC will propose and advocate for a series of carbon-reducing ordinances to local official bodies. These budget-sensitive initiatives will rely heavily on draft CAP recommendations and address various pieces of the decarbonization pie, such as electrifying government/industry fleets and codifying climate-friendly building codes. While these efforts will only address a portion of overall GHG emissions, we hope to get ahead of the curb on the critical work needed in pursuit of a net zero economy.

We are confident that the North Coast can be a leader in the efforts to decarbonize globally, and we are excited to work with all of our partners, including hopefully you (our fantastic membership), to push for a more resilient and climate-friendly community. Stay tuned to see how you can help make it happen!


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