The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved an update to the city’s Climate Action Plan, including setting a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.
The council approved the update 8-0, with Councilman Chris Cate absent. City staff will bring a full implementation plan back to the council by February 2023.
“The window to reverse the dangerous trends of climate change is rapidly closing, and this moment demands aggressive action,” Gloria said. “Implementing this more ambitious plan won’t be easy, but the financial cost and human consequences of inaction are almost unimaginable. We must act now.”
Mayor Todd Gloria and city staff presented the CAP update at a City Council meeting Tuesday, and scores of climate activists encouraged the council to adopt the more ambitious plan.
City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera added some clarifying amendments. Councilman Raul Campillo said he wanted to see how it could be effectively implemented but was supportive of the plan, including incentives for good behavior.
“Choices that one may perceive as private may have real, public consequences,” he said. “I believe we are taking responsibility as a region.”
Since the draft plan’s release in November, the city gathered public feedback from more than 4,000 residents, developed an analysis of staffing needs, and began work on the follow-up implementation steps as laid out in the City Auditor’s CAP audit.
“There is no time to wait to take climate action. Thankfully, by including the voices and concerns of the people who have suffered the most under climate inequity, our Climate Action Plan will ensure our city does our part for the global community while working toward our goal of providing every San Diegan the clean and healthy community they deserve,” Elo-Rivera said.
“Now more than ever, the city is positioned to bring forth a sustainable future for all by strengthening its commitment to greater tree canopy, safer streets, cleaner air, and healthier neighborhoods,” Elo-Rivera added.
If the update is approved, a complete implementation plan will be drafted before next year’s budget proposal, and each department responsible for CAP actions will be required to provide annual work plans to show how they will carry out the plan’s identified strategies.
“The 2022 Climate Action Plan remains a model for the country; achieving the CAP’s ambitious goals will produce a sustainable future for San Diegans,” said Councilman Joe LaCava, who chairs the council’s Environment Committee. “The Climate Action Plan update is only the beginning. I applaud the mayor’s leadership in already pivoting the city toward climate action and a commitment to document a full implementation plan by February 2023.”
As an early implementation step, city staff have prepared a municipal energy implementation plan and policy. Both are intended to push the city toward its goal of zero-emissions municipal facilities and a nearly all-electric vehicle fleet by 2035.
San Diego has more than 400 municipal facilities burning natural gas to heat water and indoor spaces, and more than 4,000 fleet vehicles on the road each day. The plan outlines emission-reduction opportunities and describes specific projects, programs and policies to enable the city to meet its goals.
City News Service contributed to this article.