3/26/19 Sent toCity Council and read at the Council Meeting
“Request for a Climate Action Citizens’ Advisory Commission
In view of the extreme threats to our environment and society worldwide, and pursuant to the Santa Cruz City Council Declaration of a Climate Emergency, we ask city council to establish by ordinance an official Climate Action Advisory Commission. The Commissioners will be appointed by city council in the usual way and, with the help of city staff, will drive studies and recommendations to address this, the greatest emergency in history. The Commission should remain active for as long as this emergency threatens our safety and well-being.
This Commission can help improve our climate action goals. While the current basic goal of the city’s Climate Action Plan is better than not acting, that goal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% over 1990 levels by 2050 (p. 5, Climate Action Plan) will fall far short what is needed. According to the latest science, we have to reduce emissions to zero and start to draw down CO2 within approximately 10 years in order to avert climate catastrophe. For Santa Cruz those disasters would include, according to the Climate Action and Adaption Plans, the loss of our beaches and West Cliff Drive and almost 400 homes and 65 commercial properties, by 2100. Within the next 12 years alone, over 70 buildings are at risk from increased flooding due to sea level rise. Already faced with unaffordable housing, we will also face a wave of migrants from areas with climates made intolerable by climate change; our own air quality was already compromised this past summer by the wildfires, increased exponentially by climate warming. And our Climate Action and Adaptation Plans acknowledge the severe effects of unchecked climate warming on our economy. All of these are probably understatements, since every new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that the previous estimates of the speed of global temperature rise and its effects on land and sea have been short of the mark.
Establishing a Climate Commission would help raise the issue to the level it merits. The present Task Force, while a laudable effort, does not have advisory powers, nor the power to request anything from the city government, including information from various departments. The new Commission would serve to reinforce the role of the city’s Sustainability and Climate Action Manager.
Every important enterprise of the city has its own department and most have citizens’ advisory commissions. Establishing a Climate Action Advisory Commission to help us face this relentless and monumental crisis makes sense in every way. Please put this on your agenda for speedy enactment. Thank you for your work and for your attention.
On behalf of the Planning Committee of the Santa Cruz Climate Action Network