Climate plan seeks to cut SD emissions in half

Posted at 12:52 PM, Nov 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-30 15:52:49-05
SAN DIEGO -- The city of San Diego's long-awaited plan to address climate change is scheduled to go before the City Council's Environment Committee Monday.
Among other things, the plan created by city staff over the past couple of years includes the goal of reducing emission levels recorded in San Diego in 2010 by 20 percent in 2020 and by half in 2035.
Five strategic focus areas of the plan are:
-- Energy and water efficient buildings, with the city providing a mix of regulatory mandates and incentives.
-- Clean and renewable energy, with the city facilitating the installation of local renewable energy projects.
-- Bicycling, walking and transit, in which land use decisions can promote alternative means of travel;
-- Reducing waste, promoting recycling and capturing landfill gases. 
-- Climate resiliency, to create programs and policies that will help city officials respond to potential impacts.
"This plan strikes the right balance between protecting our environment and growing our economy," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.
"San Diego's environmental and business communities are once again taking the exceptional step of joining together in support of this plan because we all agree that clean technology, renewable energy and economic growth are vital to our city's future," he said. "We're going to hand down to our children a San Diego that is cleaner than it was when we received it."
The document incorporates more specific goals -- some of which were adopted separately by the City Council -- like generating 100 percent renewable electricity citywide by 2035, reducing energy consumption at municipal facilities by 15 percent by 2020 and an additional 25 percent by 2035, and diverting 75 percent of solid waste by 2020 and 90 percent by 2035.
Of the numerous ways cited in the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest projected short-term bang would take place at the Miramar Landfill, with the recycling of waste products and capturing of gases, to the tune of 154,467 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2020 and 344,213 by 2035.
The report also suggests that optimizing the use of mass transit would also have a major impact, lowering carbon output by 119,234 metric tons by 2020 and by 213,573 metric tons by 2035.
Longer term, a method of procuring energy from alternative sources called "Community Choice Aggregation" could reduce emissions by 531,254 metric tons in 2030 and almost 1.6 million metric tons five years later.
"This plan positions San Diego as the national leader in climate action by powering our lives with 100 percent locally made clean energy that ensures our air is clean and our water is healthy," said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the Climate Action Campaign. "We have embraced a `yes we can' attitude to protect the people and places we love from the dangers of a changing climate."
Actions called for in the climate plan would require the City Council to approve separate implementation ordinances in the future. Before such votes are taken, the city would conduct a cost-benefit analysis of each proposed action.
The plan's provisions, some of which would go before the council as early as next year, might also need to be modified over time as circumstances warrant, according to the document.