Sonoma County leaders travel to Egypt to represent North Bay at COP27 UN climate conference | Tech US News


Sonoma County representatives are gathering at this year’s United Nations climate conference in Egypt to share what they’ve learned about dealing with devastating disasters and forge initiatives to rebuild and reduce the region’s carbon footprint.

Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Rogers was among the first of the local delegation to arrive in Sharm El-Sheikh, where he will be joined by Rohnert Park Mayor Jackie Elward and others from North Bay who have been invited to attend the COP27 conference .

Officials from Sonoma Water, the county agency, and The Climate Center, a Santa Rosa nonprofit, will also attend the conference, along with Leo Chyi, district director for Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.

A partnership between the Global Council for Science and The Environment, Sonoma Clean Power, the public electricity provider, and Sonoma Water is funding the local delegation’s trip to the conference.

“We’re here to tell our story — it’s one of disaster and tragedy,” Rogers said Thursday from his hotel room in Egypt. “We were able to rebuild in such a climate. We are a model for the international community about what you can do with a little political will.”

More than 50 panels are taking place each day during the two-week conference, which began Sunday, with panelists from around the world, he said.

During his first appearance on the panel, Rogers, who serves on the board of Sonoma Clean Power, discussed how the public electricity provider is supporting efforts to reduce carbon emissions linked to the North Shore.

Established nearly a decade ago, the agency, now the dominant electricity provider in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, offers customers electricity that, in its basic service, is 92% carbon-free.

It continues to invest in projects that prioritize renewable energies.

“That’s the story that’s important for people to hear at this conference,” Rogers said.

He said one of his appearances included a discussion of California’s initiative to clean up and beautify public spaces in underserved communities, as well as its major efforts to track carbon emissions, Rogers said.

While the local delegation is available to share Sonoma County’s experience, Rogers said they will also be eager to learn from others.

He spoke with leaders in Israel about their drought-related programs, an area in which he believes Sonoma County has “fallen behind.”

“As the climate changes, how will our county fight the drought?” Rogers asked. “How do we adapt?”

Brad Sherwood, deputy general manager of Sonoma Water, will discuss extreme weather and climate adaptations during a panel on Tuesday. He will talk about the moisture-laden storms known as atmospheric rivers and a pioneering, multi-year initiative to improve forecasting that allows more of that water to be captured and stored in local reservoirs.

“We’re showing what we’ve learned, how to build and rebuild through fires and droughts,” he said.

Elward, who was raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has promoted the African continent as the continent with the least carbon and gas emissions, said she is proud to be at the conference to represent Rohnert Park.

She promoted the city’s efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by banning the construction of new gas stations. Petaluma was the first city in the country to do so in March 2021, followed in August 2022 by Santa Rosa, the largest city in the United States to pass such a ban.

Other cities in Sonoma County, including Sebastopol, Cotati and Windsor, have also enacted bans.

Elward focuses on sharing ideas and, as he is fluent in French, he is looking forward to helping to hold conversations with foreign leaders.

“We’re showing people how Sonoma County is known for its resilience,” he said. “We have a lot to do.”

Editor Mya Constantino can be reached at [email protected]. @searchingformya on Twitter.


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