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Sonoma County's target for reducing emissions

Sonoma County's target for reducing emissions — 25% below 1990 by 2015, the boldest of any U.S. community.

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Sonoma County's target for reducing emissions — 25% below 1990 by 2015, is the boldest of any U.S. community.

Workshop participants were charged with agreeing upon a base year, a target year, and a percent reduction. 1990 was chosen as a base year because it is the same base year decided upon for the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that went into effect on February 16, 2005. A target year of 2015 was favored because it provides Sonoma County a ten-year window to implement countywide strategies such as more efficient transportation, green building, and land use plans that lead to emission reductions.

Sonoma's Climate Protection Campaign (CPC) is aware that to reach its objective, the county has to act on every level - not least in schools.

“This whole notion that reducing our emissions will cost us is a myth,” noted Alan Strachan, a Santa Rosa developer and one of the workshop presenters. “A decrease in greenhouse gas gets us an increase in GDP both locally and nationally. Let’s quit exporting our wealth for fossil fuel when energy falls free from the sun.”

"It's young people that have to take on the burden of this issue," says Jessica Kellett, co-ordinator of the CPC's Cool Schools program. Analy High School challenged students to reduce their emissions, primarily by changing the way they got to school. By promoting walking, biking and car-pooling, they reduced single-passenger car journeys by 21%.

Sonoma County U.S. firsts:

  • All nine cities and County committed to reducing GHG emissions.
  • All measured emissions from their internal municipal operations.
  • All set targets for reducing emissions from internal municipal operations.
  • All set targets for community wide emissions reduction.
  • All nine Sonoma County mayors signed on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. For information about this agreement, go to:
  • All adopted Sonoma County's target for reducing emissions — 25% below 1990 by 2015, the boldest of any U.S. community.

"Scientific and technological solutions exist for meeting the target, " asserted Hancock. To prove this, the Campaign sent participants a white paper written by local scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to read in preparation for workshop. “We wanted to assure participants that they could focus on the critical challenge—generating public will—rather than on the technological aspects of climate protection. That analytical work comes after setting a target,” said Hancock.

An original "White Paper" on local actions to address climate change is available here.

“Our aim is for people in Sonoma County to achieve such resounding success that we inspire communities worldwide,” said Windsor Town Council member Debora Fudge.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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