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Sonoma Climate Campaign Leads Nation, launches new project with Air District

January 2004
The debate is over. Climate change is happening and Sonomas local governments are doing something about it. Sonoma County set a national precedent in 2002 when all nine cities and the County pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In 2003 these governments set a second national precedent when they all determined emission baselines for their municipal operations. In 2004 Sonoma County will calculate the amount of emissions produced by the whole county including residents and businesses. The 2004 initiative will also study the relationship between the Bay Areas air quality and climate protection.

The Board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District approved funding for a study, the first time that an air district in California is addressing the threat of global warming.
"It's obvious to me that when we talk about clean air we need to include greenhouse gases, said Pamela Torliatt, who serves on both the Petaluma Council and the Air District Board. The Air District recognizes this link, and once again is out there leading the State by improving air quality and reducing greenhouse emissions with the same dollars. Sonoma County and its nine cities working together with the Air District are committed to the future of our children by taking a significant step toward dealing with global climate change."

Air districts have been regulating emissions known as criteria pollutants since the Clean Air Act became national law in the 1970s. Carbon dioxide and methane, the main greenhouse gases responsible for global climate change, are not currently listed as pollutants. However, reducing the sources of greenhouse gas also helps reduce criteria pollutants. Recent studies also reveal other connections between clean air and climate. For example, in December scientists offered strong evidence that Californias air pollution contributes significantly to drought by reducing the amount of rain in nearby mountains.

The Climate Protection Campaign will conduct the Air Districts study under contract with the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, administrator of the study. Besides conducting an inventory of all the greenhouse gas emissions produced in Sonoma County, the Campaign will also study climate protection efforts throughout the Bay Areas nine counties, and will conduct a nationwide survey of air districts nationwide to find effective models that link climate protection and air quality. The study will conclude with recommendations to the Air District for integrating climate protection into its air quality efforts.

The Air District is showing real leadership in looking at climate protection. I hope other air districts follow their example, said Mike Sandler of the Climate Protection Campaign. Solutions exist. We just need the political will to implement them, he added.

The push for Air District involvement began in September 2002 when Sonoma Countys mayors and council members sent a letter to the Air District Chair to encourage support and assistance for a regional approach to climate protection. Since then, Supervisor Tim Smith and Petaluma City Councilmember Pamela Torliatt, who sit on the Air Districts Board, successfully lobbied the Air District to study its role in protecting the climate.

Background on the Sonoma County Climate Protection Campaign

Last years studies of Sonomas municipal operations found that they emit about 90,000 tons of greenhouse gas, enough to fill about 15,000 garbage trucks if the invisible gas could be hauled away. Instead it becomes part of the manmade blanket that surrounds the Earth and traps in heat. The GHG inventories are available here.

The County of Sonoma set a goal of reducing its operations emissions by 20 percent from the year 2000 to 2010. The Climate Protection Campaign recommended to all nine cities that they follow suit. The target set by the Kyoto Protocol, which has not been ratified by the U.S. government, is to reduce emissions by 7 percent from 1990 levels.

For more information about the Climate Protection Campaign, please call Ann Hancock, Coordinator, (707) 829-1224 ann@skymetrics.us, or Mike Sandler, Associate, at (707) 874-3803.

The Climate Protection Campaign is part of an international initiative led by the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives in which over 550 cities and counties worldwide participate, 150 of them in the U.S. For more information about their international campaign, Cities for Climate Protection®, please visit www.iclei.org or call (510) 540-8843.

 

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