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Watchdog Group Evaluates Climate Action Plans In San Diego County

February 7, 2018 1:52 p.m.

Watchdog Group Evaluates Climate Action Plans In San Diego County


Sophie Wolfram, policy advocate and education coordinator, Climate Action Campaign

Related Story: Watchdog Group Evaluates Climate Action Plans In San Diego County


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

San Diego's climate action campaign has come up with an effective way to motivate cities to make plans to reduce greenhouse gases and act on those plants. This week, they released a report card rating San Diego's cities on plans. For the first time they rated progress. Here to tell us about the report card is Sophie who is the author. Thank you for being with us .
>> Thank you for having me .
>> Tell us who is the top of the report card in San Diego County?
>> The big winner this year was the city of Encinitas. It became the second city in the region to adopt a gold standard plan which means that they are maximizing their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the city level. San Diego achieved a gold standard plan award in the first edition of our program. We have two cities with the gold standard. The implementation, unfortunately we do not have cities yet that are achieving the gold standard in implementing the plans. We know that that is an area that we need to focus and over the next years and make sure our cities are meeting the standard .
>> The bottom of the list. Was at the bottom and why?
>> We have 10 cities that are currently -- nine cities that are developing plans. We do not have scores for those local governments get. We have one city in the county that has not committed to developing a climate action plan. That is another priority area and we hope that next time around we will have a new climate plan from that city that we can evaluate.
>> For implementation, what is being measured?
>> There are key areas where we are measuring limitation. First, we are looking to see if the cities are monitoring progress. Are they reporting publicly? What they are monitoring is the progress in key areas. The transition to renewable electricity and sources of electricity, the progress on transportation, urban forestry, waste diversion, how much is recycled and composted versus a landfill, and energy efficiency. We also look at how well a city is prioritizing the most vulnerable communities. The communities that are dealing with the highest pollution burden and have been left behind economically. That is something that needs to be a guiding principle through implementation of all action plans .
>> The city of San Diego, it calls for reducing emissions by half and for all electricity use to be from renewable resources by 2035. What is the city doing right so far?
>> There is a lot the city is doing well. One highlight from this past year is that the city is moving toward 100% clean energy. They have completed a feasibility study for community choice, which is a program which of -- which would allow them to take over procurement of electricity for residents and give families a choice over who they get their electricity from. They are also moving forward with a business plan for community choice. On the other hand, that process could be moving faster. We want to make sure that the city moves forward with community choices as quickly as possible because we do not have time to lose.
>> The city got a gold on the plan but it got a bronze on implementation. Lester, the city of San Diego had its own report saying it was ahead of schedule. How does that jive?
>> They are ahead of schedule according to their annual report based on the amount of emissions in the 2016 inventory. The actions that got them to be ahead of schedule, every city will meet the target through state-level actions. We are seeing that emissions are maybe close to where they need to be or possibly ahead of schedule, but the actions that are going to get us to the 2035 targets, we need to see those in place now. That 2035 target will be harder to hit .
>> Where is the city getting low marks? Is it the social equality rating?
>> There are two areas, social equity and transportation that are focus areas when we were looking at San Diego's cities implementation efforts. Social equity -- one need that we are continuing to advocate for this year is to have staff specifically dedicated toward implementation the climate action plan in a manner that is socially equitable. The city needs to find what that looks like in the context of the city of San Diego. They need to track limitation of the plan with regard to social equity. That will take significant staff resources. We need to see that they should that investment. On transportation, we do not have clear metrics that show a percent of communities are biking, taking transit -- the city is moving forward. We need a baseline. Then we need to see serious investment and political will behind the shift to higher rates of biking, walking, transit -- we will have reductions from that.
>> We have a statement that says we made significant progress and we are only two years into the program. Transit will continue to be a important focus. We are gathering data. Does that satisfy you? It seems like you are trying to ask them to go further.
>> We saw a big announcements from the city last week. I think that is an indication that the report card is working. They saw the draft and that is what we want to see happening. We are ready and willing to partner with the city -- and the city is willing to partner with us. The goal is to move forward together and in the right direction. I am pleased to hear the statement and we will continue to monitor.
>> Do you really think that these goals are realistic?
>> Absolutely. It will be a matter of political will and sticking to the promises that the city has made. We are moving forward to community choice and the next big arena that we will need to move in his transportation. Is a matter of whether political leaders are willing to stick with promises .
>> Sophie, thank you for joining us.
>> Thank you for having me.