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San Diego County working to become net zero by 2045

San Diego County supervisors are moving the county closer to dramatic changes that will allow the region to meet the state’s goal of decarbonization by 2045.

San Diego County Supervisors are pushing forward with a sweeping blueprint for a climate-friendly plan that could reshape life in the county.

The Regional Decarbonization Framework outlines the path for cities to drastically reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.

The goal is to reach state-mandated net-zero conditions, where all the carbon emitted could be absorbed by 2045.


The framework calls for dramatic changes to the region’s power supply, transportation and agriculture.

“I think we’re looking at a healthier and really more enjoyable way of life for San Diego if we move forward,” said Steve Gelb of the climate advocacy organization San Diego 350.

The framework makes it clear that fossil fuels in cars and trucks and in homes are not part of San Diego’s future as the region copes with climate change.

“The regional decarbonization framework is the boldest and most comprehensive plan that we’ve seen,” Gelb said. “It is potentially a model for other areas, other regions in the nation.”

The county emphasizes that the plan is a science-based data-driven approach.


The idea is to align with state and national pathways to reach net zero, which is a goal roundly supported by environmental groups, although some want that to happen much quicker than 2045.

The blueprint calls for more electric vehicles, electrifying buildings, including people’s homes, and changing the way people get around.

“We need to seriously invest in active transportation programs, like cycling, walking and taking public transit,” said Corrina Contreras, a council member from Vista.

Essentially the county wants to reduce how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, eliminate super pollutants like soot, and develop natural systems that can capture and store carbon.

County staff also want to boost local agriculture because eating locally-grown food means it is not shipped into the region.

And county officials are determined to make the changes without wrecking the economy.

“We cannot simultaneously try to save the planet and destroy the middle class,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said. “We have to figure out how we do both of those things. We also spend a lot of time on this board addressing issues that at their root are about poverty and people not being paid enough.”

And local builders made it clear they do not want to trade one crisis for another.

“I want to ensure that the actions that we take, that you take,” said Mike Adams of the San Diego Building Industry Association. “They also include some robust incentives to try to offset the negative impacts that this will have on housing costs and housing productions.”

Adams said limiting development and putting additional climate-friendly requirements on home builders could add $50,000 to the price of a new home in a market where affordable housing is already in short supply.

The county has already met with more than 1,500 local stakeholders as planners work to finalize the framework.

It could be complete by early next year and a vote on adoption could happen in spring 2023.