Climate Change words displayed on blue road sign

Elected leaders from Napa County and its cities talked passionately about tackling climate change, though some wondered if the general public shares the same enthusiasm for action.

They met Wednesday in their continuing series of workshops to see if Napa County jurisdictions might team up for a united climate change response. Presently, the county and its cities have their own plans and strategies.

Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza called for a regional, fully integrated climate change plan with action steps.

“I think that’s the best opportunity to recognize the urgency of the issue, which is reducing our climate footprint,” he said.

County Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison looked at the individual plans for each jurisdiction. Greenhouse gas emissions tabulated in them come to a total of 1.2 million metric tons annually.

To meet state targets, the county and its cities must cut this by 30 percent to 850,000 metric tons by 2030. They must cut this by 80 percent to 250,000 metric tons by 2050.

That’s not per-capita, Morrison said. The region would have to make these cuts despite growth.

Add up all the quantifiable action steps in the plans and they cut 100,000 metric tons, Morrison estimated. That’s far short of what’s needed to meet state targets.

“A lot of our actions plans are aspirational,” American Canyon City Councilmember Mark Joseph said, adding the region can’t reach the state targets simply by saying, “We’re going to try real hard.”

Calistoga City Councilmember Gary Kraus said a city survey included a climate change question. Four percent of respondents said the city is doing too much on the issue, 39 percent said not enough, 17 percent said just right and 40 percent weren’t sure.

Unless a clear majority of the public wants to take climate change action, the committee’s efforts won’t succeed, he said. He called for educating people who don’t know how important the issue is.

Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht agreed.

“You go outside this room, you’re knocking on doors in the community, it’s like, ‘The president doesn’t think it’s anything.’ A lot of people don’t think it’s anything,” Wagenknecht said.

St. Helena City Councilmember Anna Chouteau said she doesn’t want to wait for climate change non-believers to change their minds.

“I think we’ll educate by doing and taking leadership,” she said.

But what to do? Ideas ranged from electrifying travel to encouraging plant-based diets to building more local housing for workers to phasing out gas-powered landscaping equipment.

Angwin resident Kellie Anderson said during public comments that the county should stop allowing trees to be cut down for vineyards. It should raise the minimize parcel size for new wineries from the present 10 acres.

These ideas have come up before and proven controversial.

Michelle Novi of Napa Valley Vintners didn’t directly respond to those suggestions when she spoke later during public comments. But she said the group representing more than 500 members is taking its own steps.

Napa Valley Vintners has asked all of its members to use 100 percent renewable energy with Marin Clean Energy’s “Deep Green” program. It has asked members to stop burning agricultural piles. Eighty percent of its members meet Napa Green environmental standards.

“This is the most pressing issue of our time and we’re ready to get down to business,” Novi said.

The climate action committee can do only so much on its own. It cannot take action that binds the county and its cities. Rather, each city council and the Board of Supervisors would have to approve greenhouse gas-cutting steps.

What happens next will become clearer at future meetings. But committee members said they want to do something.

“We can’t be bureaucratic; we need to be action-orientated,” Joseph said.

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You can reach Barry Eberling at 256-2253 or beberling@napanews.com.


Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.