Today, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency in San Mateo County to highlight the increasingly urgent need for action to address the climate crisis. The County of San Mateo joins over 1,000 national, international and local jurisdictions with similar declarations
According to the Intergovernmental Plan on Climate Change (IPCC), increasing greenhouse gases will cause global temperatures to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by as early as 2030. For San Mateo County, rising global temperatures could cause sea levels to rise up to 6 feet or more by 2100, contribute to increasingly extreme weather including intense rainfall, storms and heat events and heighten risk of large wildfires.
“Situated between an eroding coastline and a rising bayshore, the County of San Mateo must prepare for, and slow, the effects of climate change that we are already experiencing and know are coming,” said Board of Supervisors President Carole Groom, a coauthor of the resolution.
The consequences of climate change pose risks to life, safety and critical infrastructure in San Mateo County and throughout the world. Climate change impacts will be most acutely felt by children, the elderly, those with pre-existing physical and mental health conditions, low income individuals or communities of color and residents with unstable economic or housing situations. The County of San Mateo Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment — published in 2018 — indicates that over 160,000 children under the age of 18 and over 100,000 older adults are vulnerable to risks posed by sea level rise.
“The climate crisis has arrived and we must accelerate our efforts to both reduce our carbon emissions and prepare for the impacts of a rapidly warming planet,” said Supervisor Dave Pine, also a coauthor of the resolution. “It is incumbent upon San Mateo County to continue to show leadership in addressing this existential challenge.”
The County of San Mateo has taken a number of actions to address climate change, including: coordinating with cities on climate action planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; launching Climate Ready SMC to better prepare the County for the changing climate; and facilitating the formation of the Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District in partnership with the City/County Association of Governments.
In 2016, the County significantly reduced emissions by launching Peninsula Clean Energy which provides clean, renewable energy at lower rates throughout the County. “Peninsula Clean Energy has been a win-win for the County, securing the environmental benefits of cleaner energy for the community while at the same time saving customers $18 million each year,” said Jan Pepper, Chief Executive Officer of Peninsula Clean Energy.
Going forward, the resolution calls for County to create Climate Action Plans that will achieve carbon neutrality in advance of the State of California’s 2045 goal, and coordinate with the cities and other local partners in addressing the climate crisis. The resolution also requires the Office of Sustainability to report annually to the Board of Supervisors, starting in April 2020, on progress towards meeting the County’s carbon reduction and resiliency goals.
“Effectively preparing for climate change impacts will require a broad network of partnerships, use of the best data available, and the commitment of our leaders countywide and regionally. The collective will and investment of our Board in rising to this challenge is a model that will produce measurable results in our County operations and across our communities,” said Jim Eggemeyer, director of the County’s Office of Sustainability.