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Politics

Audit Faults San Diego For Poor Implementation Of Climate Action Plan

The first trolley rolls onto the Tecolote Road stop on the Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line, June 29, 2021.
SANDAG
The first trolley rolls onto the Tecolote Road stop on the Mid-Coast Extension of the UC San Diego Blue Line, June 29, 2021.
San Diego’s auditor found city departments are far behind the goals set in the 2015 Climate Action Plan, and that the city has no estimate for how much it will cost to fully implement the plan.

A report from the city of San Diego’s auditor found that the city is falling far behind in its effort to fight climate change.

The performance audit of the city's 2015 Climate Action Plan found key city departments don't have staff dedicated to implementing the plan, which requires the city to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.

Audit Faults San Diego For Poor Implementation Of Climate Action Plan
Listen to this story by Anndrew Bowen

The city still doesn’t know what it must spend to meet the plan’s obligations and the Sustainability Department lacks the authority to hold other departments accountable, according to the report, which was presented to the City Council on Monday. The obligations include dramatic increases in the share of people who walk, bike or ride public transit to work.

Environmental advocates, many of whom have been raising similar concerns for years, said at a press conference Monday that the city needs more staff dedicated exclusively to tracking and reporting progress on the climate plan.

"The city of San Diego must show its commitment to implementing the climate action plan by increasing funding to the Sustainability Department so that the city has the staff and the resources to actually make progress," said Karinna Gonzelez, the climate justice policy advisor for Hammond Climate Solutions.

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City Council members largely agreed with that assessment and officials have already pledged to implement the audit's recommendations over the next year and a half. That includes an analysis of whether the Sustainability Department has adequate staffing to fulfill its mandate.

"Our sustainability team is amazing, but we want to make sure that they're adequately resourced so that they can continue doing the amazing work that they do," Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera said.

San Diego Adopts Climate Audit Findings

Even as the city works to implement its 2015 climate plan, it is also crafting an updated plan that will set new long-term goals for greenhouse gas reductions that are more in line with the latest recommendations from climate scientists. But the audit found the city is behind schedule on that as well.

"Sustainability began the process of updating the CAP in 2020 and planned to have an initial draft complete and ready for public comment by early 2021," the audit said. "As of February 2021, Sustainability is still in the process of updating the CAP."