While the nation and world bickers about climate change, Sonoma County at least has been making headway. Statistically, the gains are fairly impressive.
We're a bit late, but Sonoma County is meeting targets established by the 1997 Kyoto Protocols--reducing emissions five percent below 1990 levels.
According to county data, collectively, county residents are emitting 13 percent less. That's doubly impressive as Sonoma County's population has grown by more than a quarter over the intervening period. Global carbon emissions jumped 41 percent over the same period, according to the national weather service.
"We have made significant progress since 1990 and we still have quite a ways to go to achieve the 2030 target that our board recently adopted, which is to be carbon neutral by 2030," said Tanya Nareth, with the regional climate protection authority, who discussed the progress made at a meeting Monday in Healdsburg.
Many of the gains, Nareth said, come when residents switch to sourcing energy from greener sources through Sonoma Clean Power, rather than directly from PG&E. The proliferation of hybrid and electric cars helped, along with incremental emissions improvements in ordinary vehicles.
The presentation was just one of many Nareth's agency is making to local city councils, pitching code modifications for new construction and initiatives to promote composting and recycling for waste diversion. The agency is also promoting farming practices that sequester carbon. Acknowledging becoming carbon neutral within nine years is a heavy lift, she said the agency is looking to cities to compel their residents to dump natural gas appliances.
"We still use natural gas to heat our water, heat our homes, and so we need to, over the next nine years, transition from using appliances that use natural gas to those that use electricity."
Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg have already taken steps in that direction in new construction.