The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors gave an extra push to its efforts to combat climate change by passing a resolution on Sept. 17 declaring a climate change emergency.
The resolution calls on the county to create a climate action plan to arrive at carbon neutrality ahead of California's 2045 statewide goal, and partner with cities to create strategies to deal with climate change.
The action plan is being developed and will be ready for the board to consider in 2020, said Effie Verducci, communications officer for the county Office of Sustainability.
The emergency resolution also requires the Office of Sustainability to provide a report to the Board of Supervisors about the progress being made to meet carbon-reduction goals.
The statewide zero-emissions law, passed last year, requires the state to cease using energy sources that cause carbon emissions by 2045. It also commits the state to draw half its electricity from renewable sources by 2026, rising to 60% by 2030.
The county has already created Climate Ready SMC, a program to help prepare for the changing climate, and helped form a Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency Agency.
Climate Ready SMC is a collaborative effort between government and private and community-based organizations to deal with four climate change issues: rising heat, wildfires, extreme storms and sea level rise, Verducci said.
The supervisors have already taken a number of steps to lower the county's carbon footprint, including installing vehicle chargers and promoting electric vehicles, in a move toward "electrifying and de-carbonizing our communities," said David Burruto, chief of staff for Supervisor Dave Pine, who has spearheaded the effort in the county to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The county and its 20 cities and towns also established Peninsula Clean Energy, which gives electricity customers the option of choosing renewable energy sources for their electric power needs.
Sea level rise is an important issue in the county, which lies between a coastline that is eroding and San Francisco Bay, said Board of Supervisors President Carole Groom in the release.
The county commissioned a sea level rise vulnerability assessment in March 2018 that determined that property with a total assessed value of $34 billion would be flooded along the Bay and on the coast north of Half Moon Bay by 2100 because of rising sea levels, according to the Sea Level Rise Resiliency Agency website.
"With resiliency, it's not necessarily what makes floods, but how we are going to deal with them," Burruto said.
The emergency declaration received the approval of the Sierra Club's Palo Alto-based Loma Prieta chapter, which put out a call for San Mateo County and Santa Clara County cities and towns to do the same, according to Dita Dev, chair of the club's sustainable land use committee.
The club has called on governments to declare climate change emergencies, divest investments in fossil fuels, and end business with large banks that have fossil fuel investments, Dev said.
"Recognizing that they're in a climate emergency is the single most important action (jurisdictions) can take to deal with climate change," she said. "Menlo Park has already declared an emergency, along with the county, and it will be up to other cities to catch up."