On September 25, 2020, the Environmental Council of Sacramento submitted comments to Sacramento County in response to their request for community input for forming our County’s long-awaited Climate Action Plan.
The County has broad authority and influence over GHG-emitting activities, including land use patterns and building practices, and has crucial public health responsibilities. I understand that the CAP is a legally-framed document, responding to State GHG-reduction targets. The County needs to more than the legally-required minimum.
– Ralph Propper, ECOS President
We expect to see a draft Sacramento County Climate Action Plan in 2-3 months that the public can review.
Sacramento County has begun work on its long-promised Climate Action Plan (CAP). Please tell them you want a robust CAP. The comment period closes September 25. Email your comments to: climateactionplan [at] saccounty [dot] net.
Climate change will worsen unless we step in and demand that our leaders make the right choices. County staff face pressure to finish the CAP quickly. This is inappropriate given the gravity of the situation. We need to show them how deeply we care about climate change.
Consider telling your personal story and describe why you care. Mention how climate change affects you, such as ongoing drought, persistent wildfires and smoke pollution, worsening heat waves, flood threats.
Discuss your concerns for future generations, such as younger relatives or friends.
Include solutions to climate change that you care about, such as bicycle lanes, public transportation, electric cars, infill development, tree planting and other measures.
With your help, we can get a robust climate action plan.
From the County’s website: “Please submit written suggestions on topics to be covered in the CAP, new ideas in greenhouse gas mitigation, or other thoughts to climateactionplan [at] saccounty [dot] net by September 25, 2020. Presentations from past public workshops and Board of Supervisors meetings that give examples of some of the concepts under consideration are available at this link.”
Why Do We Need a Strong Climate Action Plan?
1. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be reduced quickly.
The world’s scientists (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) say we have little more than a decade to stop run-away climate change. This requires unprecedented changes to all aspects of how our society currently operates. Without major GHG reductions, starting now, we’ll trigger irreversible tipping points and catastrophes beyond our ability to solve.
The earlier we take action, the less costly and easier it will be to reduce our emissions and transition to a renewable, sustainable society. Prevention is key. Mitigation delayed is forever denied.
2. Our County should accelerate existing emission reduction targets for a clear trajectory to achieve California’s carbon neutrality 2045 goal.
• Our County must do the most possible. We need to exceed mandated 2030 GHG reductions with actions that are effective, enforceable, timely, and funded.
• Our County can achieve the State’s 2030 target with little effort, due to the State’s regulation of industry and utilities. But our biggest emission sources are traffic and building energy, which are subject to County control. Sacramento County must make meaningful changes.
• To achieve the State 2045 zero-carbon goal, the CAP must show progress beyond 2030.
3. Climate Change requires a long-term planning effort now.
• The CAP needs to consider all feasible alternatives.
• Our County must switch to climate-friendly land uses.
• Traffic is our County’s biggest source of GHG emissions, but our County is on course to approve triple the development needed for projected growth. This means not more GHG emissions, long commutes, more traffic, and more cost for County services. Growth must emphasize infill rather than the current suburban sprawl.
4. The CAP must incorporate social justice.
• The CAP is an opportunity to uplift marginalized and under-invested communities. We can improve both quality of life and our environment by investing in climate change solutions.
• Covid-19 and climate change do not create social inequities, but they expose its effects. Our society can only enjoy peace when climate and social injustice are addressed.
5. The CAP needs to be a clear process for meaningful accountability and timely action.
Regular public reporting of implementation and GHG Inventory and CAP updates are essential. Reports on CAP implementation status should be presented annually. GHG inventories and the CAP should be updated at least every four years.
6. The CAP must be developed with opportunities for public education and participation.
The CAP is our County’s most consequential effort for our future health and prosperity.
Averting climate catastrophe will require changes to the unsustainable practices in transportation, land use, energy conservation, and building design. These difficult changes demand full public knowledge and involvement
Sample Letter to Sacramento County
Todd Smith, Senior Planner Sacramento County Planning and Environmental Review
Dear Mr. Smith,
I’m glad the County is working on its long-delayed CAP. Since the County promised a CAP in 2011, the world has experienced the hottest nine years on record, with 2019 the second-hottest year ever and 2020 on course to be hotter.
Globally, the results have been unprecedented damage, death, and loss of livelihoods from extreme heat, storms, fires, floods, and drought. In California, we are in what the Governor calls a climate emergency, with record-breaking heat and rolling blackouts, the earth’s record high temperature (Death Valley, 130°F), and wildfires destroying millions of acres. The air in Sacramento has been “unhealthy” for weeks.
These escalating disasters are due to a global temperature rise since 1850 of 2°F. We are on course for heating of two or three times that much within our children’s lifetimes, and we must dramatically reduce GHG emissions to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. The time for delay is past.
With this in mind, I want our county to move forward, and give us the aggressive climate plan that matches the threat we face.
The County has broad authority and influence over greenhouse gas-emitting activities, including land use patterns and building practices, and has crucial public health responsibilities. I understand that the CAP is a legally-framed document, responding to State GHG-reduction targets. I want the County to do more than the legally-required minimum. I want it to exceed the minimums and do as much as it possibly can.
Thank you very much for your diligent efforts to protect the citizens of Sacramento County and the world. I await the draft CAP with interest.
[Your Name Here]
Thank you for your help to get a robust Climate Action Plan in Sacramento County.
On September 1, 2020, the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) submitted comments on the NewBridge Specific Plan and Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), dated Aug. 21, 2020.
Below is an excerpt from our comment letter.
CONSISTENCY: The Jackson Corridor projects should be treated consistently in terms of the County’s requirements for project approval. The requirement to meet state mandated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets is a particularly important one. Mather South demonstrated that it met state mandated GHG emissions reductions targets in the Climate Change chapter of its Specific Plan/FEIR. By contrast, the NewBridge FEIR currently calls for a demonstration of adequate emission reductions at the time of tentative map approval.
Close scrutiny of the project by the public and yourselves as County leaders occurs at FEIR approval. We ask that the NewBridge FEIR be modified prior to your approval to ensure GHG thresholds are met and the project’s impact is reduced to a “less than significant level.”
Mather South’s FEIR, CC-2 measures (GHG-reducing measures) are named and quantified: EV Charging and 100 Percent Solar on All Nonresidential Buildings and Residential Buildings. In addition, the CC-3 measure for purchase of carbon offsets is described and quantified. The NewBridge FEIR simply lists the CC-2 measures as a menu to be selected at tentative map approval. No quantification is provided. A demonstration that GHG thresholds are met is not provided.
For reference, please see this excerpt from the Mather South FEIR, page 7-29:
“Implementation of Mitigation Measure CC-1 requires the project to comply with all provisions included in the AQMP. This mitigation would be consistent with provisions of General Plan Policy AQ-4. Implementation of Mitigation Measure CC-2 would further reduce GHG emissions associated with residential and nonresidential building energy and transportation. However, GHG emissions would not be mitigated to a less-than significant level through the provisions of the AQMP and Mitigation Measure CC-2 alone. Thus, the purchase of carbon offsets as discussed in Mitigation Measure CC-3 would reduce the transportation-related GHG emissions to reduce mass emissions by 301 MTCO2e/year for the transportation sector by 2032. With implementation of Mitigation Measure CC-3, all GHG thresholds would be met and this impact would be reduced to a less-than-significant level. [Mather South Final EIR, page 7-29, PLNP2013-00065]