I’ve recently read several misleading comments in this paper about the role of the wine industry in shaping Napa County’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). As the Napa Valley Vintners’ (NVV) representative on this issue, I’m writing today to provide background on this important topic.
The NVV has been engaged in the issue of climate change since 2006, when we began working with researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to look at regional historical temperature records to better understand temperature trends in the Napa Valley. That initial study, which was completed in 2011, is currently being updated with more recent data and a revised, peer-reviewed report is expected later this year.
Besides wanting to better understand the climatic changes occurring in our region, the NVV has actively advocated for the reduction of greenhouse gases through encouraging winery participating in the Napa Green Certification program. Napa Green is a comprehensive, independent third-party certified, sustainability certification program for vineyards and wineries in the Napa Valley. Through participation in Napa Green, NVV members:
-- Assess and reduce water and energy use;
-- Increase waste diversion rates;
-- Establish in-house “green teams” to facilitate continuous improvement;
-- Use environmentally preferable packaging materials;
-- Identify and implement strategies to reduce employee vehicle trips.
In 2015, our Board of Directors set the ambitious goal to have all eligible NVV members involved in the program by the end of 2020. Today, we are more than 70 percent of the way towards reaching that goal.
Further, our Strategic Plan, which guides all the efforts of the organization over a three-year cycle, specifically includes support for the adoption of a scientifically-based CAP by the county, which we have stated during public comment at both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings on this issue.
We have formally supported Napa County’s creation of a Joint Climate Authority to coordinate and implement mitigation efforts throughout the county. In June, the NVV Board of Directors voted to become the first North American wine trade association to join The Porto Protocol. As a signatory, this commits the NVV to continued efforts to reduce emissions and to become a global partner in sharing ideas and implementing projects to directly tackle climate change.
As the county has pursued creating a comprehensive, accurate and viable CAP, the NVV has consistently expressed our support and provided detailed feedback to help facilitate the successful adoption and implementation of a plan. The sooner the county can adopt a guiding policy framework, including the CEQA Greenhouse Gas Consistency Checklist for discretionary projects, the sooner we can realize the benefits of these requirements as a community.
On June 19, I spoke at the Napa County Planning Commission hearing, where the revised draft of the Napa County Climate Action Plan was presented to the commissioners. I thanked the consultants and county staff for acknowledging and incorporating many of the comments the NVV made in our August 2018 comment letter on the first draft of the CAP.
Among our many suggestions we:
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-- Encouraged solar panel installations on warehouse roof space;
-- Clarified details about the Napa Green Certification program;
-- Advocated for the addition of hybrids to the garbage truck fleet;
-- Supported the establishment of a biogas generation system;
-- Asked Napa County to offer electric vehicle charging station incentives and streamlined permitting.
Our comments were focused on:
-- Improving the efficacy of the CAP;
-- Identifying new and existing measures to further reduce emissions;
-- Expressing our continued commitment to support the policy process and the adoption of a CAP that requires all of us in this special community to take meaningful and measurable steps to address climate change.
The founders of the NVV knew in 1944 that we could achieve more as a region if we worked together to reach our shared goals. Now 75 years later, we remain committed to this spirit of camaraderie and collaboration.
Change is possible when focus less on stoking divisions and more time establishing and pursuing common ground. Building on our history of stewardship and dedication to sustainability, the Napa Valley Vintners will continue to be a passionate and proactive advocate for the community and the environment in Napa County.
Associate Director of Industry Relations
Napa Valley Vintners