For Immediate Release
While Massive CA Fires Burn, YOLO County Board of Supervisors Declare a Climate Emergency, Commit to Justice and Mobilization
WASHINGTON - With smoke still rising from one of California’s most massive wildfires on record, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to accelerate local climate action and to fund a climate advisory committee tasked with helping the county achieve just and equitable outcomes for marginalized communities and to retool livelihoods.
The resolution was spearheaded by a team of volunteers organizing as the Yolo Climate Emergency Coalition and endorsed by over a hundred grassroots organizations and individuals including representatives from small farms and businesses, faith-based alliances, educational institutions, student and youth groups, and climate, environmental, women’s empowerment, public health, and racial justice campaigns.
This has been a season of disaster for the county; prior to the fires, the community and local economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, farmworkers who were already living on the edge have little choice and are working long hours inhaling toxic smoke to bring in the harvest — tomatoes, almonds, and other crops — around the clock from August to October, a period that also coincides with the lengthening fire season.
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A farmworker who requested to remain anonymous described the situation: “My lungs are still irritated from breathing contaminated air, all the smoke, dust, ash I inhaled while working in the fields.” Adding, "I'm still working every day even though I can't stop coughing because I know the work will end soon and I need to be responsible and help take care of my family. What other choice do I have?”
This declaration is the latest example of local governments taking strong action on climate in the face of local disasters. This organizing approach has helped community groups win policies to achieve climate and environmental justice at emergency speed.
The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project support climate emergency campaigns in the U.S., where over 11% of the population of the country now lives in a jurisdiction that has declared a climate emergency. The Climate Emergency Campaign is a pathway for people who want to “do something” but have been told for decades that we must wait for federal or international action.
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