County’s Sustainability Committee considers declaring climate emergency in Contra Costa

“that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety, and security of the County” – proposed language from resolution.

Commission asked for input before making recommendation to full Board of Supervisors later this year.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Friday morning, May 29, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ Sustainability Committee, heard public input on the proposed Climate Emergency Resolution. Supervisor Federal Glover serves as committee Chair and Supervisor John Gioia, serves as Vice Chair.

“The committee didn’t actually vote on it,” said Jody London, Sustainability Coordinator for the county. “We received a lot of public comment on it. They wanted some modifications. There was argument that it wasn’t strong enough in some areas. The committee wasn’t in agreement with all the ideas but, we’re going to go back and work with the Sustainability Commission.”

“It’s a standing committee of the board that meets every other month,” she explained. “The commission, made up of members of the public appointed by the board, meets during the months in between. They usually happen at 5:00 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month. It will be held online.”

The next meeting of the commission will be on June 23rd.

A revised resolution that includes input from the commission will return to the committee on July 27th, for final vote of recommendation to the full board, which can happen sometime in August or September depending on vacation schedules, London said.

According to the staff report, “On November 19, 2019, the Board of Supervisors (Board) received a proposal from the Contra Costa County Sustainability Commission that the Board adopt a Climate Emergency Resolution. The Board referred this item to the Sustainability Committee.
On December 9, 2019, the Sustainability Committee discussed options for structuring a climate emergency resolution. Supervisors expressed their opinion that resolutions have greater value when they identify tangible actions we can take. They cited to the recent State Executive Order N-19-19 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating impacts of climate change in State government as an example. The Committee expressed interest in seeing the County take action on those issues where it can have the greatest impact. The Committee recognized that the County must balance priorities, it cannot invest in everything people might want at this time.

Community members offered many ideas for a climate emergency resolution. They stressed that this is an emergency and the County should provide bold leadership and action. Community members urged the Board include in any resolution deadlines or dates by which action can be expected. Community members expressed interest in the Board taxing the refineries located in Contra Costa County and determining how the County should plan for a situation where the refineries and other fossil-fuel based industries are not viable.

The Committee directed the Sustainability Coordinator to develop a draft climate emergency resolution in consultation with the Sustainability Commission and come back to the Committee.

The attached draft Climate Emergency Resolution was developed by staff, in consultation with the Sustainability Commission, which has discussed this at several meetings, most recently its February 24, 2020 meeting. The draft Resolution reflects the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommends three actions:

  1. The County Department of Conservation and Development is directed to work with the County Administrator and other departments to establish an interdepartmental task force of Department heads, or their immediate deputies, that will focus on implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the County can undertake to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
  2. The County Sustainability Commission is directed to seek input from the community to help the County anticipate and plan for an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuel extraction and processing, helps plan for a transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy, and considers how the County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic can incorporate the County’s climate goals. As the State of California adopts policies and goals for reducing pollution and addressing climate change, the County will consider with the assistance of the Sustainabilty Commission what this will mean for County revenues, jobs, health, and infrastructure, including new opportunities and how frontline communities will realize economic and other benefits. The Commission will include this topic in its ongoing advice to the Board of Supervisors.
  3. Health, socio-economic, and racial equity considerations should be included in policymaking and climate solutions at all levels and across all sectors as the consequences of climate change have significant impacts on all County residents, but especially the young, the elderly, low-income or communities of color, and other vulnerable populations.”

The declaration portion of the draft resolution in its current form reads as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Contra Costa declares a climate emergency that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety, and security of the County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Department of Conservation and Development work with the County Administrator and other departments to establish an interdepartmental task force of Department heads, or their immediate deputies, that will focus on implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the County can undertake to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Sustainability Commission seek input from the community to help the County anticipate and plan for an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels, helps plan for a transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy, and considers how the County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic can incorporate the County’s climate goals. As the State of California adopts policies and goals for reducing pollution and addressing climate change, the County will consider with the assistance of the Sustainability Commission what this will mean for County revenues, jobs, health, and infrastructure including new opportunities and how frontline communities will realize economic and other benefits. The Commission will include this topic in its ongoing advice to the Board of Supervisors.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that health, socio-economic, and racial equity considerations should be included in policymaking and climate solutions at all levels and across all sectors as the consequences of climate change have significant impacts on all County residents, especially the young, the elderly, low-income or communities of color, and other vulnerable populations.

Read the entire draft resolution, here – 41815_DRAFT Climate Emergency Resolution

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41815_DRAFT Climate Emergency Resolution


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