One serious impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is the precipitous, unplanned-for drop in tax revenue to our state and local governments. Napa Climate NOW! recognizes that as our elected representatives, your top priority is to ensure that our towns, cities and county can continue to fund essential services, provide a safety net for those in need, and protect the community within a severely constrained budget.
Complicating matters even more, we all recognize that the situation remains fluid. Even when the county and state begin to phase out of the Shelter-in-Place (SIP), the timeframe for businesses and organizations to return to normal operations will remain unclear, along with the status of the newly unemployed. The coronavirus itself could easily resurge in a second and possibly third wave before sufficient testing and a vaccine are available. All of these factors have significant budget and planning consequences.
That said, climate change must remain a high priority for Napa county, cities and towns. The climate emergency has not slowed down, despite the temporary (and welcome) abatement in pollution. Moreover, as governments everywhere try to bring the economy back online, the tendency will be to cut environmental corners, which could further accelerate the climate crisis. We urge the Climate Action Committee to take this opportunity to identify and recommend smart, budget-conscious choices that will help us move toward a climate resilient, regenerative economy.
We’re not alone. I’m sure you’ve all seen articles citing academics, government officials, NGOs and businesses drawing clear connections between the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, outlining the similarities and differences, and urging a strong climate response as we emerge from the current crisis. Climate, environmental and social activists are taking this a step further, calling for a “just recovery” to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are not left behind.
For our part, Napa Climate NOW! has organized into a series of Issue Teams – Green Building, Transportation, Forest Protection, Agriculture, Food and Food Waste – to identify the specific actions that this Committee can get behind, even in this budget-constrained time. We’ll be sharing these ideas with you in writing. Your work as a committee matters now more than ever.