Santa Cruz County

Agenda Item

Adopt resolution endorsing the declaration of a climate emergency and requesting regional collaboration on a mobilization effort to restore a safe climate, as recommended by Supervisor Leopold and Supervisor Coonerty


Department:Board of Supervisors: First DistrictSponsors:First District Supervisor John Leopold, Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty
Category:BOS First District - Board LetterFunctions:General Government

Board Letter

Recommended Action(s):

1)  Adopt resolution endorsing the declaration of a Climate Emergency and requesting regional collaboration on a mobilization effort to restore a safe climate; and

2)  Direct the Clerk of the Board to distribute the resolution to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior; the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Acting Director; Governor Newsom; U.S. Senators Feinstein and Harris; U.S. Representatives Eshoo and Panetta; State Senator Monning; and Assemblymembers Stone and Rivas.


Executive Summary

An existential climate emergency threatens not only our immediate community, but our great state and beyond. Therefore, The County requests regional collaboration on a mobilization effort to reverse global warming by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing down carbon from the atmosphere as soon as possible. 

The attached resolution includes County commitments to take action to continue to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.



The County of Santa Cruz joined the “We Are Still In” coalition on June 28, 2017, as part of our commitment to the principles of the Paris Agreement that world leaders from over 197 countries signed in April 2016, as an effort to combat the threat of climate change and the urgent need to restrict global temperature rise in this century to within 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels regardless of the Trump’s Administration’s  withdrawal from the agreement.


We remain committed to this effort as reflected in our County’s long history of leading environmental efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Monterey Bay region.  Most recently, Santa Cruz County was the lead agency behind the formation of Monterey Bay Community Power, a joint powers authority comprised of 19 local governments around the Monterey Bay that came together in an unprecedented show of unity to benefit local communities and address climate change in hopes to reduce region-wide electricity emissions to zero. 


Our Board continues to be a leader in environmental stewardship and protection by reducing human contributions to climate change by adopting the Climate Action Strategy (CAS). (< Planning/ClimateActionStrategy.aspx>)  This document serves as an important framework for the actions that our County and the unincorporated community can take to both lessen our contribution to climate change and prepare for the impacts when they do occur.  Santa Cruz County has already met the 2020 emissions reduction target recommended by the state and will continue to respond to impacts as they occur along with other partnerships in order to stay on course to reduce emissions to 59 percent below 2009 levels in 2050.


Santa Cruz County’s long history and recent actions to protect the environment include  banning oil drilling in Santa Cruz County and banning onshore facilities intended to support drilling on offshore oil wells;  banning fracking in the Monterey Bay; filing a law suit against 29 major oil, coal and gas companies for climate change related damages associated with sea level rise and for changes to the hydrologic cycle caused by greenhouse gas pollution from the companies’ products, including more frequent and severe wildfires, drought, and extreme precipitation events, and we further reduced our carbon footprint by approving the installation of eight solar arrays at County facilities which will save the County several factors more  in energy costs over the expected life of the arrays, while offsetting 637 tonnes (metric tons) of carbon emissions annually. The Sustainable Santa Cruz Plan also supports fewer miles traveled by allowing the development of more affordable housing and -multi-use development close to transit corridors in an effort to strengthen economic functioning and reduce emissions.



Through this resolution, the County of Santa Cruz declares that an existential climate emergency threatens our cities, towns, region, state, nation, civilization humanity and the natural world and endorses a just, countywide emergency climate action mobilization effort to reverse global warming, to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere as quickly as possible.  Specifically, the County commits to:

·              Consider revising its existing policy, priorities, processes, and distribution of resources to enable emergency climate action measures in the County;

·              Develop a Socially and Environmentally Responsible Governance Policy including an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy to guide efficient, consistent and just action;

·              Reducing auto dependency through a robust Transportation Demand Management program and other measures as appropriate;

·              Support both affordable housing and transit-oriented development;

·              Investigate how to support wide-spread transitions to Climate Smart Agriculture

·              Continue educating our residents about the climate emergency and working to catalyze a just emergency climate mobilization at the local, regional, state, national, and global levels to protect our residents as well as all the people and species of the world;

·              Funding an update to the County’s Climate Action Plan, and consider ambitious but achievable goals, consistent with or exceeding state goals and objectives. Integrated into a state-of-the-art Climate and Energy Action Plan 2030;

·              Keeping the consideration of vulnerable communities central to all emergency climate action planning processes and to inviting and encouraging such communities to actively participate in order to advocate directly for their needs.


By passing this resolution, the County also will rise to the challenge of this great crisis with the active consultation, participation, and benefit of workers and disadvantaged communities. The County underscores the need for full community participation and support, and recognizes that the residents of Santa Cruz, the University of California Santa Cruz, the Citizens Climate Lobby, Santa Cruz Climate Action Network, 350 Santa Cruz, Campaign for Sustainable Transportation, Regeneración and the County Commission on the Environment and other community organizations will be integral to the emergency climate action mobilization effort. The County of Santa Cruz calls on the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission and other appropriate local agencies to participate in this regional emergency climate action mobilization effort. In order to ensure a just transition, the County will consult with community, labor, environmental justice, economic justice, and racial justice organizations at every step of the emergency climate action planning process, as appropriate.



Strategic Plan Element(s)

This action supports the Strategic Plan elements of a Sustainable Environment:


4.A (Outdoor Experience)

4.B (Natural Resources)

4.C ( Local Conservation)

4.D (Climate Change)


Meeting History

Jan 29, 2019 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Resolution No. 16-2019

MOVER:John Leopold, First District Supervisor
SECONDER:Bruce McPherson, Fifth District Supervisor
AYES:John Leopold, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Bruce McPherson