Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

What Does New State Target To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mean For San Diego?

banner_emissions.jpg
What Does New State Target To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mean For San Diego?
What Does New State Target To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Mean For San Diego?
What Does New Target To Cut Emissions Mean For San Diego? GUESTS:Nicole Capretz, executive director, Climate Action Campaign David Roland-Holst, economics professor, UC Berkeley

Our top story on Midday Edition, California's ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just got more ambitious. For several years, California has been dedicated to dedicated to a plan that would cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. That plan is still in place but now, Governor Jerry Brown wants to speeded up internally and has ordered that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. In other words, we have to get halfway to the goal in the next 15 years. That is a much faster track then we are on right now. Joining me to talk about the governor's new order might mean for San Diego is Nicole Capretz of the Climate Action campaign aimed. The call helped craft the city of San Diego's proposed Climate Action plan. Welcome to the show. Thank you. Also, is professor David Roland-Holst, of UC Berkeley. He has analyze economic impact of how California reaches the climate goals and professor, welcome to the show. Thank you. Happy to be her. The call, these greenhouse gas emission targets, actually as you heard, hard to explain. Can you tell us why the reductions are based on 1990 levels in the first place? My understanding is the 1990 levels were developed on an international stage and we first started having climate negotiations in the early 1990s. It just became the international standard that would be used as a baseline. Of the city of San Diego, we are using a 2005 baseline, a more updated baseline use now. Before Governor Brown's new order, kind of pace were be on to reach that 80% reduction goal by 2050? We were on a goal to hit the 32 target of the 2020 goals. But, we were not on a pace to hit the executive order targets of 80% reductions. That's why the governor's announcement is so critical and important and will propel us to take the actions and develop the policies we are going to need to ensure we hit the 80% 2050 goals. This new target the governor proposed, these orders, is a good thing? A necessary thing? Yeah. It's a bold, ambitious action and also critical. Earlier, you mentioned more suffering record heat. We are in the fourth year of an exceptional drought. We've had 850 wildfire -- wildfires this year alone, a 70% increased than previous years. The world is changing and we need to keep up with those changes that protect our quality of life and save our future. That's why the governor's actions -- we applaud those actions. They are also critical. Is the city of San Diego, Nicole, currently on track to meet with the governor is calling for? Yes. I'm proud to say, the city is a little bit ahead of the governor. We say that in just, but we have a goal to reduce our carbon emissions 50% by 2035. We are on the same page. We are both aiming for hitting the 80% reduction target. Give us an idea of how the Climate Action plan that has that ambitious goal by 2035, how does it actually accomplish those goals? Well, there are a number of strategies. In essence, it's figuring out new ways to move people around the city. It's about figuring out alternative modes of transportation and electrifying our transportation system. Also, powering our lifestyle with clean energy. Those are the two basic drivers for reaching those goals. Clean energy relies a great deal on solar? Absolutely. We have 100% clean energy goal by 2035, something where proud of in San Diego. David, you been studying different policy approaches to meeting the statewide admissions goals. How could Governor Brown's targets actually be achieved? You are right, Marine. There are many pathways to the 2050 target. The governor, fortunately, has chosen one of the most ambitious ones. We can either do this in a straight line way, or defer inductions until some magic bullet technology comes along. The governor has stepped forward and put California on a path to more innovation oriented solutions. That is an ambitions target that can be achieved. According to our study, and stimulate the growth of the California economy. The driver of California growth over the last two generations, clean and green technology, it's the next breakout technology. We are going to see tremendous stimulation in the energy sector and, as Nicole implied, we have to fundamentally restructure our energy system in California to achieve these reductions that will include electrifying the vehicle fleet to 100% for light vehicles. I know several years ago people work joking about electric cars. It's not a joke any longer. There is very innovative technology. Some companies who are active in this area, I think a decade ago we would have never imagined. 10 years ago, a few told me the company would be the leader in automotive robotics, I would have laughed. If you Toby five years ago that an intermittent -- Internet are protuberant or would build electric vehicles, I would've laughed. Now, as a company whose headquarters in Cupertino California, their market cap is not just larger than Ford, General Motors and Toyota combined, it's more than twice the size of those three companies that company is not only very interested in electric vehicles, but they know how to make irresistible consumer things. We can be optimistic about the vehicle fleet. It has to happen and it's symbolic of California's innovative approach to climate change. One of the things you are found, a study that the next economic report found, is the faster California gets to those goals, the faster pace is sets for itself, the better it is for the state economically. How does that work? That works through innovation. As a set, the industry has been key to our superior growth and posterity in California. New technologies for climate adaptation and mitigation are the next breakout technology sector. If we can accelerate that innovation, we are going to reap more benefits. Household is -- households and enterprises, by saving money on energy, non-partisan, nonprofit organizations -- trying to improve public awareness with these issues. One thing we need to understand about these new technologies, is that if they are adopted and we save money on energy, will have money to spend on more intensive job creation in California. If you can take $1 out of the gas pump and spend it on what consumers like, which is services, there have been significant employment dividends. We estimate that by 2050, following the pathway, there will be about 1 million extra jobs in California in the state economy and 6% higher GDP. I'd like to interject that it's really incredible. The solar industry, alone, is more jobs than all three of our private utilities in this state. The solar industry, alone. Was mentioning jobs and transportation, but also in clean energy field. Electric power -- the cost of solar panels is plummeting. It's fallen more than two thirds in the last five years. These are accessible technologies and will save households money that they can use to have job growth inside the state rather than spending on external energy sources. Nicole, you were saying that one of the things that this might do is make California a model that other states, perhaps even other countries might want to emulate as we go forward on these -- but I was calling ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's a huge point of pride. The governor, in a way, is issuing a challenge to Washington and other nations to say, we have expanded the economy. We have pursued these ambitious carbon reductions, also. You can do the same. We've also shown it's -- as was indicated -- a huge economic development motivator and job creator. We are protecting our quality of life for future generations and expanding the economy. It's kind of a win win win situation. Is an economist, I'm proud of the states accomplishments and San Diego's leadership. But be safe from a practical point of view, there's a lot to be gained in the venture community. That's why the venture community is all over Killeen -- clean energy. California can't change the economy by itself one way or another for better or for worse. We can have technology and market leadership because we want to lead the world in these innovation so we can capture the dividends of that innovation. I understand. That is one of the goals. Nicole, where does the San Diego Climate Action plan stand right now? It is in the environmental review process and we are hopeful that there will be a vote to implement and pass the implementation plan. How long will that process go on? We are in the middle of it. We hope by the end of the are the Council will take a vote. As it stands now, do you know if there will be significant changes to that proposed plan when it comes up for a vote? So far, we have not seen any significant changes, I am happy to report. Let's broaden this out to San Diego County, Nicole. The judges already ruled against the County Climate Action plan and the greenhouse gas emissions levels proposed by the regional transportation plan are being challenged at the state Supreme Court. What, in your opinion, have these agencies gotten wrong that the city of San Diego got right? City of San Diego has acknowledged the science and data that shows the threat climate change poses to our quality of life and we decided to be proactive and figure out a solution. Unfortunately, the other agencies have taken a more passive approach and are in more of a reactive mode. Now that the courts have spoken, both those agencies will take a new approach and we will work closely with them to hopefully have them model their climate programs after the city of San Diego. I would like to see 100% clean energy and our entire region. It shouldn't just before the city of San Diego, should be for everybody in the county. Hopefully, the city can be a model that can be replicated by the other agencies. David, I want to pose this question. I know it is not something included in the next 10 economic report, what we are dealing with to do problems. Give a change in climate and this crucial problem in California of lack of water. This speeding up the timeframe for reaching our climate goals comes at a time when California is in a drought and looking for alternative water supplies. One of them being the energy intensive matted, D cell that we haven't Carlsbad that is going online later this year. How do you think that we balance these competing needs, the need to find innovative water sources and at the same time, reach these important climate change goals? This is an interesting example. Without being impolite, of a fallacy we often see that is a trade-off between security and environmental objectives. What I would recommend, is to look for water, try to find water. If you need more energy, get it from renewable sources. I see the water challenge as a challenge to expand capacity from new and renewable sources. Let's face it, water already consumes 20% of the energy. If we need more energy to get more water, weather De-Sal or some other technology, it's an opportunity to intensify our investments in innovative renewable energy. There is no trade-off. Those are very compatible goals. Compatible goals, Nicole. The idea of a solar powered De-Sal plan? I am the mind that we need to focus on conservation and cost-effectiveness is really with water reuse and potentially, maybe exploring desalinization. I'd like us to first maximize what we can get out of conservation and water reuse first. You have found it -- after working on the city's climate plan, Climate Action plan, you founded a group called the Climate Action campaign. What is the goal of your organization? The goal is to build awareness, obviously, about what needs to happen so we protect our quality should of life. Want to serve as a watchdog organization to make sure that the city in the county are taking necessary action to protect our quality of life. Hopefully, we want to build support so that the elected officials know and understand they are doing what the community wants them to do. We have their back and we give confidence that when they take bold action like our Governor takes bold action, they will be rewarded by the community. There are some who look at this plan for the city of San Diego and call it unrealistic, unreachable. What is your argument? That's an unfortunate approach and obviously, we just heard from the economist and the study that has come out that, actually, what is unrealistic is the status quo. What is unrealistic as doing the same things we've been doing. That has not enabled us to figure out how to protect our quality of life for the future. What will work as innovation and change. What will work is figuring out new ways to move people around the city and the county. What will work as clean energy and that's not only going to protect our future, but expand our economy. What is real is a matter of perception. When you talk to Elon Musk or Tesla or Apple, these are creative disruptors, people who change, fundamentally, how we live. Those people would chuckle at that comment, because they are saying, that's fine. You can think that. While you are thinking that, I'm finding the solutions and bringing them forward. So, watch out. I want to thank you both. I've been speaking with Nicole Capretz of the Climate Action campaign and professor Nicole Capretz. Thank you for joining us.

California's ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just got more aggressive.

For several years now the state has been dedicated to a plan that would cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

That plan is still in place.

Now Gov. Jerry Brown wants to speed it up internally with a new executive order. It calls on the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, said the state wasn't on pace to meet the 80 percent goal by 2050.

"That's why the governor's announcement is so critical — to ensure we hit the 2050 goal," Capretz told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. "It's a bold, ambitious action but it's also critical."

Capretz said the drought and the increase in wildfires statewide show the world has changed.

Jim Waring, president of Clean Tech San Diego, said the region has already benefited from decreasing gas emissions.

So far from everything we have seen, the positives to our economy have greatly outweighed the negatives," Wang said. "I think we are now at a critical and exciting time where we will learn how to effectively incorporate the increasing amounts of renewable energy into our grid. Will there be disruptions and difficulties? Of course, but those happen with all transformational change."