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Sonoma County Community Action Plan

One of the interesting aspects of the movement to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the many layers of government that are getting involved in how to curb global warming and confront the problems of climate change. In October, 2008 Sonoma County California issued its Community Climate Action Plan. The detailed and ambitious plan notes: “(e)very historic change is preceded by a massive collection of individual actions. Because we cannot foresee how change will occur, each action is critical.”

The multi-faceted plan seeks to achieve the previously announced goal of the county and all of the nine cities in the county to reduce GHG emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015. The four categories of action include: (1) investment in energy and water efficiency to reduce demand, (2) smart transit and land use by shifting to electric vehicles, walking and bicycling from fossil fuel vehicles, (3) invest in renewable energy resources and jobs and (4) protect forests and farmland and convert waste into energy in order to “conserve and capture.”

Some of the details of the plan demonstrate the need for an extraordinary level of legislative and financial commitment, which if successful may serve as a model for many communities. Among the proposals are to retrofit 80 percent of the buildings in the county to make them more energy efficient, strengthening land use regulations to encourage transit oriented mixed use development and creating incentives for small scale solar, wind and hydro power installations.

While some of the proposals are particular to the climate and current land uses in the county, other proposals are similar to or the same as actions being taken by other communities. However, the scope and detail of the plan are impressive and can certainly provide some guidance to other communities looking for ways to begin addressing these issues.