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San Diego County Criticized In Climate Action Plan Report Card

Community activists discuss the region's climate action plans and their hopes...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Community activists discuss the region's climate action plans and their hopes for the future in City Heights, Feb. 20, 2019.

San Diego County gets some blistering criticism in a new review of the region’s climate action plans.

The Climate Action Campaign’s third annual report card did not award a gold medal to any of the county’s municipalities.

Community advocates say they would much rather see the county leading with a solid regional version of the "Green New Deal."

The city of San Diego, Encinitas, and Solana Beach got the highest marks or silver medals as reviewers evaluated the plans and how they are being implemented.

Four more communities, La Mesa, Del Mar, Carlsbad, and Chula Vista got positive marks in the bronze category.

“Cities are making big promises but they’re really struggling to fulfill those promises. We’re seeing limited staff resources and insufficient funding so that is why we are proposing something bigger. We need a big bold region that aligns efforts and maximizes resources,” Maleeka Marsden, lead author of the report for CAC, said.

Nine communities are updating or developing plans and they include Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, Oceanside and Santee.

National City’s plan was called out as one that needs improvement.

Poway was criticized for failing to commit to developing a plan.

But the harshest criticism was served out to San Diego County. The report called the county’s strategy reckless, based on sprawl and pay-to-pollute schemes. The latest county version was rejected by the courts late last year.

“We have a long way to go to implement all the strategies needed to meet the local, state climate targets in many of our communities. That means workforce opportunities. A way to put food on the table and be a part of the solution to the biggest crisis facing us all, which is climate change,” community advocate Maria Mohammed said.

The solution, the CAC suggests, is a "Green New Deal" tailored to San Diego County. The concept, first proposed nationally by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, would bring sweeping changes to energy use, economic activity and public policy to achieve swift reductions in greenhouse gas emissions before the effects of climate change are unavoidable.

"Key to the effort will be ensuring the process is transparent and inclusive and centers the perspectives of communities on the front lines of climate change," Marsden said.

CAC representatives plan to begin developing the idea later this year, meeting with local leaders and officials to lay the framework for a "Green New Deal."

According to Marsden, the process will involve taking input from the county's vulnerable communities and ensuring a smooth transition for workers who would be affected by changing energy needs.

"We are committed to creating catalytic change here in our own backyard and modeling success for the rest of the nation," Marsden said. "We have already proven we can model success for the nation with our landmark goal to achieve 100 percent renewables by 2035. Now we can model bigger scale solutions on the path to a climate-safe future."

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

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The Climate Action Campaign released its 2018 Climate Action Plan Report Card Wednesday, which calls for a localized "Green New Deal" for San Diego County.

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