The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a resolution committing government leaders to prepare for shifting from a fossil fuels-based economy to a greener one, and to promote various measures to help fight climate change.
The resolution’s goals are wide-ranging, from supporting the state’s newest effort to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and to have “clean” energy providing 100 percent of the state’s electricity by 2045, to planning for an economy that no longer depends on fossil fuels.
The resolution also calls for making these changes considering issues of social justice, including the plight of people who have lived in communities where sources of pollution — refineries, chemical plants, other industries — have operated or still do.
The resolution, which was adopted Tuesday, was recommended by the Contra Costa County Sustainability Committee, made up of citizen volunteers.
County Supervisor John Gioia said changes are already happening. He noted that the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo has already announced it will convert from processing crude oil to using renewable fuels (cooking oils, fats, greases and soybean oils) by sometime in 2024, and that the Marathon refinery north of Concord is mulling such a move.
“This has already started, and we need to be prepared,” Gioia said, adding that the county needs to be able to help workers in these industries help make that “just transition” to new technologies.
Support for urgent action
Almost all of the 30-plus commenting callers Tuesday morning supported the resolution. Most said climate change is real, is already upon us, and that recent and persisting wildfires are proof of changes they said will only get worse without decisive urgent action.
Matt Renner, a Richmond resident and executive director of The Climate Mobilization group, told the supervisors, “The oil industry is in free fall, and demand is not coming back for their product. The writing is on the wall for these refineries.”
Mark Van Landuyt of Danville, with the Sierra Club, said the climate resolution is timely for dealing with a climate crisis and an economic crisis.
“With bold vision, Contra Costa can be a leader in the state, and in the nation, in ushering in a green new economy — the economy of the future,” Van Landuyt said.
In addition to expressing concern about the fate of the county’s refineries — major employers all — Supervisor Candace Andersen questioned whether this resolution was “urgent,” given the number of other crucial issues, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping county managers more than busy. She asked about removing the word “urgent” from the resolution.
The four other supervisors all pushed back on that.
“We’re in urgent mode right now; the climate is at risk,” Supervisor Federal Glover said.
Added Supervisor Diane Burgis, “We need to make residents aware that there are choices to be made.”