MENDOCINO Co., 3/22/21 — The Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee gave their first annual report to the Board of Supervisors late this morning, with a presentation containing a wealth of information concerning how climate change is threatening the county and in turn, how the county’s economy is contributing to climate change. As well, the committee gave an overview of what they have been up to for the past year.
When the board created the climate advisory committee, it wrote into the founding documents that the committee is “…to set in motion County-wide goals, policies and actions that will reduce GHG emissions; that will increase carbon storage throughout the County, and that will prepare Mendocino County residents to reduce, prevent, and to recover from or to better cope with climate caused disasters…” These are undeniably big undertakings, made more challenging by the complete lack of funding and county support-staff, a struggle which was mentioned in today’s presentation, and discussed throughout the committees monthly meetings.
MCCAAC chair, Marie Jones, offered up a few ideas that the committee has come up with in order to make themselves more effective in the future even without funding and staff support. Grant writing, advising on climate relevant board agenda items, and working with various county departments to implement the MCCAACs first priority items all made the list. However Jones also turned to the board to ask them for advice and guidance on how the advisory committee can better help the board and the county move forward on a more climate friendly path.
John Haschak, third district supervisor for the county, pointedly asked the committee to work side by side with other environmentally focused institutions based in the county, especially to address water insecurity.
“I would like you to be working with the experts,” said Haschack.
Jones kicked off Monday’s presentation, giving an overview of the advisory committee’s priority climate policy recommendations and explaining the need for a baseline study — an in-depth analysis of the county’s carbon footprint, and describing the committee’s goals for the future.
A few members of the committee took turns describing the group’s first policy recommendations — relatively easy to achieve policy changes that could get the ball rolling on climate in the county. Their ideas span across the environmental sector, from fuels management through prescribed burning, to renewable energy permit streamlining, to habitat protection.
However, committee member John Nickerson noted that before they can try to implement their policy ideas, the group needs to figure out what exactly what the county’s carbon footprint is and what sources of the economy contribute the most to the county’s emissions.
Nickerson reiterated the need for a county-wide baseline study, an analysis he said would allow tracking of progress or regression in transportation, energy, natural working lands, urban forests, agriculture, water treatment, sewer, etc. with the objective of helping the county set reasonable goals.
It’s been a tough year for the MCCAAC. As it has for everyone, the pandemic upended their plans for in-person meetings and activities, and, as Jones noted, the committee does not have any staff support or funding from the county, meaning they rely entirely on volunteers. That said, Jones took the opportunity at today’s meeting to list some of the committees accomplishments from the past year — developing the committees ground rules, bylaws, and operating procedures, the writing and adoption of a climate emergency declaration, which was adopted by the board, and the beginning of an analysis of the counties contribution to global carbon emissions and subsequently climate change, among a few other things.
“Climate change is a big issue,” said Jones. “I think unfortunately it’s one that people worry a lot about but don’t do much about and our hope is that maybe the county can start taking a little more of a proactive role.”