It was front and center in President Barack Obama’s words to the nation during his inauguration speech this week. And Gov. Jerry Brown stressed its importance in his State of the State address Thursday.
Yet, fresh off Napa County leadership’s go-back-to-the-climate-plan-drawing-board edict to staff in December, there was no call for climate change urgency in Board of Supervisors Chairman Brad Wagenknecht’s local look-ahead earlier this month.
In fact, the word “climate” wasn’t in his 2013 opening remarks speech.
Wagenknecht spent three minutes of a 14-minute address discussing the need to get more frequent vote tallies after an election, but said nothing about the county’s desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save passing mention of an opportunity to work with Marin and Sonoma counties on a regional green electric program.
How can this be?
Election processes and controlling gun violence — another prominent part of the county’s 2013 objectives — are important issues in need of attention, but certainly climate change must also be included in the county’s priorities.
This week, President Obama said as much in his inauguration speech, calling for the country to lead the world in the transition to more sustainable energy. Gov. Brown said California must act now, adding that “no long-term liability presents as great a danger to our well-being.”
County leadership must also publicly promote the necessity to address global warming.
County staff spent the whole of 2012 working on a Climate Action Plan, which ambitiously challenged new development to reduce carbon emissions by 38 percent from 2005 levels. The plan was at first praised in April, then tossed aside in December after the wine industry argued that it was overly punitive, particularly on small winery expansion. County leadership asked staff to instead target vehicle traffic to meet its 38 percent reduction goal.
County staff spent years developing its plan, and while its work was initially universally praised, its plan was unanimously rejected.
The county is working with the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency to produce a traffic study with the hope of identifying the drastic cuts in vehicle traffic necessary to answer the Climate Action Plan’s mission.
In this quest is the opportunity for innovation. The county and the wine industry can work together to develop new ideas to answer climate change locally. If wine and tourism interests in Napa are concerned about the economic impacts of a local Climate Action Plan, they should be more active in helping to identify solutions that stimulate the economy rather than hinder it.
And the county needs to take its cues from the president and governor in making climate change a larger part of the public dialogue.