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Climate Action Plan Report Card has mixed reviews for cities in San Diego County

Climate advocates are giving the region mixed reviews when it comes to developing climate action plans. KPBS Environment Reporter Erik Anderson says that may cost the region access to state and federal funding.

Climate advocates are giving the San Diego region mixed reviews when it comes to developing climate action plans.

Those plans are considered vital roadmaps to slowing the warming of the planet’s climate and steering state and federal climate funding to the region.

More than half of the region’s municipalities have climate action plans (CAPs), and the latest report card singles out three examples of good ones.


Escondido, Encinitas and La Mesa all got high marks for efforts to shrink the region’s carbon footprint.

Escondido’s top score of 97.5 is based on its direction to increase climate equity, green infrastructure and food availability. Since the revised plan was only adopted in March, it was not possible to see how the planning document is working.

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Encinitas scored an 82, for work on clean energy and zero waste.

La Mesa’s 79.5 mark noted the city’s efforts to work with partners on regional transportation issues and to promote clean energy.


San Diego ceded the top stop on the list for the first time. The actual climate plan was ranked third on the scorecard but implementation lagged, pushing the city’s grade to fifth among the 13 plans that were rated.

“For many cities, the struggle is the implementation and funding aspect,” said Brenda Garcia Millan, a research and policy analyst at the Climate Action Campaign. “This is why we say we don’t want a climate action plan that is just an aspirational document. We want a climate action plan that includes feasible measures. That includes a funding plan,”

San Diego’s plan, like the one in National City, is currently under review by city officials.

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Coronado’s plan was criticized for not creating change quickly enough and the County of San Diego is still in a long process to develop a plan after previous efforts were repeatedly challenged and rejected by the courts.

The report card gave poor marks to Santee and El Cajon, saying those planning documents were vague and unenforceable.

Poway was the only San Diego County municipality that had no blueprint to even develop a climate action plan.

The Climate Action Plan Report Card acknowledged that vulnerable communities like Black, Latino, Native American, elderly and low-income populations will be hit the hardest from rising urban temperatures, polluted air, flooding and wildfires.

“San Ysidro is one of the communities that has to endure the exposure to higher levels of air pollution caused by freeways that surround and intersect our community,” Alejandro Almador, of Casa Familiar.

The report’s recommendations include asking regional leaders to commit to a zero carbon future, the creation of a regional climate network, and a push to electrify everything. The study said the latest United Nations climate report called for rapid changes to protect people from dramatic climate change.

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The report’s eight recommendations are:

Commit to zero carbon CAPs: While nearly all cities in the San Diego region have adopted Climate Action Plans, these are not ambitious enough to meet the scope and scale of the climate crisis.

Get serious about funding and implementation: To reach a Zero Carbon future, local governments must complement legally binding CAPs with robust funding and implementation plans that identify associated costs, timelines, and leading agencies and/or point of contact in charge of decarbonization projects.

Create a regional climate network: Just as cities in our region came together to establish regional Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs to take back local control of our energy future, cities must work together in regional collaboration on a broader scale to achieve broader climate goals.

Electrify everything: As the third-largest source of GHG emissions in the region, cities must adopt strategies to transition off of natural (methane) gas and electrify building and transportation sectors as soon as possible.

Build affordable homes near world-class transit: Transportation accounts for more emissions than any other sector in the region. The only way to slash emissions is to stop car-dependent, dangerous, and unsustainable sprawl development in high fire risk areas.

Promote nature-based solutions and green infrastructure: Beyond urban tree planting, cities should expand actions to protect, manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems via Nature-based solutions. Specifically, cities should invest in green infrastructure to promote green streets, clean water, stormwater capture, and to protect and restore natural lands.

Create healthy food systems: According to the UN, food systems account for over one-third of the global GHG emissions. As the climate crisis accelerates, agricultural losses increase food insecurity risks. CAPs should incorporate local food systems measures as part of their decarbonization efforts.

Uplift communities of concern and create core good green jobs: Climate change hits hardest in communities of concern that are disproportionately burdened by multiple sources of pollution and face health and socioeconomic challenges.