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San Diego County Criticized In Climate Action Plan Report Card

February 20, 2019 1:13 p.m.

GUEST: Maleeka Marsden, author of report card, Climate Action Campaign

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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.

It's one thing for a city to have a climate action plan it's another to live up to it. The Climate Action Campaign has released its third report card on how the San Diego region is living up to its various climate action plans. None of the cities got a gold star for compliance in San Diego County government came in for some harsh criticism. Joining me is Bill Leak emerged and of the Climate Action Campaign. Author of The Climate Action Report Card and Mallika welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me.

Now overall it looks like the city of San Diego tied for first place with Encinitas in working toward achieving climate action goals. What criteria did you look at to come up with these scores.

We have five key strategies. The first key strategy is 100 percent renewable energy. The second is biking walking and transit. The third is urban forest. We also look at social equity and zero waste.

So San Diego and Anthony List did better in all of those categories than the other cities.

So it's an average between their climate action plan score and their implementation score. So it's a very complex breakdown. But yes overall those two are leading in climate action.

Which cities are pulling up the rear in fulfilling their climate action plans.

So we have four cities that achieved a bronze standard and that's Del Mar Carlsbad Chula Vista and La Mesa. We also had National City score needs improvement award and then power has no intention to cut emissions and draft a climate action plan.

No climate action plan there at all. Are there any common reasons why cities across the county are finding it difficult to meet these goals. I mean is it because of transit plans or housing or is there any overarching reason that cities are having a hard time implementing these goals.

Yes so I think cities have these very siloed approaches and are implementing piecemeal solutions with insufficient funding. And what we're finding is that we need something bigger. We need a regional approach. We need to transcend boundaries and address this in a more comprehensive way.

Well that brings me to the county of San Diego which does not fare well in this assessment. The Board of Supervisors recently voted to appeal a court decision rejecting its climate action plan according to your evaluation. What's wrong with their plan.

Two things they emphasize sprawl and also have pay to pollute schemes. They are blatantly disregarding real climate solutions.

How would you like to see them change it.

We'd like to see them go back to the drawing board and use the criteria that we think make a really good climate action plan. So 100 percent renewable energy biking walking and transit. Zero waste. Urban Forest and importantly making sure that there is a mechanism to prioritize low income communities of color that are on the frontlines of climate change and already suffer disproportionately from environmental pollution.

I want to talk to you more about that because this Climate Action Campaign report card includes a Green New Deal it says the region needs its own green new deal. Talk to us about that right.

So even though there are some genuine efforts from cities to move on climate what we're finding is that it's just not enough collectively when we zoom out we are not on target to meet our local and state goals which means we are not on target to secure a safe and livable future which is why we think we need to do something bigger and bolder. We need to transcend boundaries we need to align goals and we need to maximize resources which is why we are proposing a San Diego Green New Deal. This is the time to unite to come together and we think this is a really great opportunity to not only fight pollution but to make our communities more just more equitable and more prosperous.

This is a time where we can invest in tons of green new jobs that will help us transition to a climate safe community but also fight poverty and make an economy that works for all.

The idea of having a regional look at the climate and climate action plan the head of Sandy gets new director recently proposed just getting rid of sand eggs long range regional plan because it won't meet the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals but that may mean the region will miss out on state and federal funds and see delays in current transportation projects. How does your organization say that we should balance those two ideas right.

So that's why we're having this conversation. We need to move at the scale that the threat of the climate crisis poses to us and that's why we appreciate that sandbag is acknowledging that we're not doing enough and that we need to think bigger. Speed is an important factor in all of this and we need to move forward so that we don't miss out on on funding but it is important that we we take an approach that has our greenhouse gas emission targets in mind.

Now I saw on the report card a call for climate adaptation acknowledging that the effects of climate change are now happening. Is this in a way a sign that it's already too late.

It's definitely not too late. It is true that we are seeing the climate crisis here and now in our own backyard between the deadliest wildfire last fall and record breaking heat waves and the Del Mar cliffs falling into the sea. We are seeing that it is here and now. But we also know that it's not too late that we just need to come together we need to unite and together we can figure this out.

I've been speaking with Blake Marsden author of The Climate Action Report Card and where can people see this report. Yes so on our website Climate Action Campaign dot org.