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State Mandates Carry San Diego Through 2020 Climate Goals

Traffic on a San Diego freeway is shown in this file photo, Nov. 22, 2011.

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Traffic on a San Diego freeway is shown in this file photo, Nov. 22, 2011.

San Diego Reports Progress Towards Climate Action Plan Goals

GUEST:

Andrew Bowen, reporter, KPBS News

Transcript

San Diego has already met its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction goals outlined in the city's year-old Climate Action Plan. But most of the progress was due to state actions, and little progress has been made on the city's biggest source of emissions: transportation.

State mandates on fuel efficient vehicles and renewable energy allowed the city of San Diego to exceed its short-term goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the mayor's office Thursday.

The report is the first of what will become an annual monitoring effort. It measured the city's greenhouse gas emissions in calendar year 2015, finding overall emissions were 17 percent below the 2010 baseline year.

The city's Climate Action Plan, passed last December, expects a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The report attributed most of the progress to actions at the state level, and to improvements in data collection.

"We've made significant progress to create a cleaner San Diego, and we're just getting started," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "This is a long-range plan, and there are many steps that will need to be taken along the way."

The Climate Action Plan sets a legally binding target of a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The plan lays out a variety of strategies to achieve that goal, including switching to 100 percent renewable energy, reducing waste in landfills and getting half of all San Diegans living near public transit stops to commute to work without a car.

While the report found progress with renewable energy and waste diversion, things actually got worse for transportation. The distances people drove in cars and trucks has steadily increased year by year, and public transit ridership has been falling, largely because of cheap gas prices.

RELATED: San Diego Predicts Shortcomings In Climate Plan’s Transit Goals

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, said she was pleased to see the reductions, but that the city is not providing leadership in the areas of sustainable growth and mobility.

"We're benefiting from those actions that were done because of state leadership — but now we need local leadership," she said. "What local leadership means is that it actually changes the way we grow and changes the way we move people around the city. And unfortunately we just aren't seeing that yet."

Capretz added that the election of Donald Trump, who has denied the existence of climate change (he later said it was a joke), underscores the need for local governments to take the lead in acting on the threats posed by climate change.

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