Environmental activists want more from San Diego's Climate Action Implementation Plan
In August 2022 the City of San Diego adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP). A new version has now been released with greater detail on how to put climate change goals into action.
The draft of San Diego's Climate Action Implementation Plan includes six strategies to reach the net zero goal.
Those include cutting natural gas emissions from buildings across the city, providing public access to clean and renewable energy, improving transit options that don't involve cars and waste reduction.
The plan also calls for restoring green spaces, and pursuing further technological advancements to improve the climate.
“So we are cautiously optimistic because even though the plan is finally out it is still missing important deadlines and benchmarks as well as costs for many of its actions,” said Climate Action Campaign’s Brenda Garcia Millan.
Her organization is suing the city over its lack of climate action deadlines. The researcher and policy advocate said specific steps in the plan are crucial for the city, "to show its residents that it's actually committed to not only fight the climate crisis but to actually address the most pressing needs of communities.”
She said some of those pressing needs include addressing pollution and the impacts of more extreme weather events.
But Mayor Todd Gloria pushed back on the notion that the implementation plan doesn't provide detail.
“The implementation plan becomes very specific. And you get to the department and office level of how we're going to take those lofty goals and make them real,” Gloria told KPBS Midday Edition.
Garcia Millan said the city needs hard deadlines and funding to implement its climate goals or it won't make its 2035 target for net zero emissions.
“The cost of inaction will be much higher than whatever the plan ends up costing the city,” she said.
Gloria said San Diego has already added electric vehicles to its fleet, rolled out organic waste recycling and transitioned city accounts to renewable energy — which are part of the Climate Action Plan.
He also said the implementation plan will continue to be updated and he hopes other communities will follow suit.
“When innovation occurs we want to immediately thread that into our plan so we can take advantage of that,” Gloria said. “When we find roadblocks that are going to slow things down we need to be dynamic and respond to that as well. So this document will continue to be refined throughout its life.”
The city’s Environment Committee will discuss the implementation plan on March 9.
Garcia Millan said her organization will be rallying at city hall that day to make sure tangible steps are being taken to meet San Diego’s 2035 net zero goal.