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City Officials To Announce San Diego Ahead Of Schedule In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goal

The city of San Diego is shown in this undated photo.
Milan Kovacevic
The city of San Diego is shown in this undated photo.
City Officials To Announce San Diego Ahead Of Schedule In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goal
City Officials To Announce San Diego Ahead Of Schedule In Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goal GUEST:Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh it is Wednesday, October 25. Our top story a midday edition San Diego gets their yearly report card on the city's climate action plan today because the big reductions in carbon emissions and water use the city got high marks on last year's report card for being ahead of schedule. This year that trend seems to be holding but there are major hurdles and big decisions ahead for the city as they try to achieve the goals of cutting greenhouse emissions in half. Joining me is Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News. What were the big takeaways from this report card?The city has made small progress in the calendar year of 2016 compared to the year before. This does measure 2016 the last year's report was 2015. There's a bit of lag. Last year's greenhouse gas emissions were 2% lower than the year before. A lot of the progress has been made with low hanging fruit and there are a lot of hard choices ahead.Low hanging fruit is that the state and federal mandates that the city has to comply with?That is right. The city has not been able to demonstrate the effects of local policies on the overall carbon footprint. A lot of the progress in 2016 came from energy efficiency, water conservation. Those are not because of any policy that they have implemented. The city has led by example in some areas and bought some dump trucks that are powered by natural gas, which is more efficient than traditional vehicles. They bought hybrid cars. Those things make for a good media coverage but they don't have a impact on the footprint.It calls for the city to use 1% renewable energy by 2035. Reaching that goal may depend on the city switching to community choice energy. Remind us where we are on the effort?Committee choice would allow the city to choose where the energy comes from. The city conducted a feasibility study which found that the city could offer cheaper and greener energy if it implemented a committee choice program then SDG&E . They will make a decision on whether to move forward in January. I know the mayor is being lobbied by San Diego Gas & Electric parent company. I saw two lobbyists who were working for the marketing and lobbying district in the waiting room so there are forces at work that are calling on the city and the mayor to slow down and not make a decision next year on community choice. They've questioned the validity of this study and I asked the mayor are you comfortable and confident. He did not give me a clear answer.Another goal is to get half of all commuters that live within a half-mile of a major transit stop to bike, walk or take mass transit to work. In this report card today, was there any update on those numbers?Not exactly. The city doesn't have a way to measure how many people are biking, walking or riding public transit. Overall we know that the trend in public transit is that it's going down. We have reports from the city on the number of I clean miles on it been improved are added to the network. There is not a measure yet on how effective those policies have been. The city is fair to say that they're going to have some really big challenges meeting the transportation goals. That's very problematic because transportation is the biggest source of in house gas emissions in the city. Today the press conference was held at the city operation yard and as we were driving into the press conference, we passed this massive parking lot that was full of cars that were driven there by the employees of the city. The city has a long way to go in terms of getting out of cars.What are the other big obstacles to meeting the plan contractI think money is a big one. We were talking about the new contact with the police union worker that's going to cost $66 million over the next two years. This year was a very hard budget year. They had to fight for funding for urban forestry planting and maintaining her trees. Infrastructure lacks more than $1 billion and a lot of the questions about greenhouse gas emissions have to do with infrastructure. We have not really heard a lot of discussion today about how they will actually pay for all of the needs in the climate plan.What other thing should we be watching to see progress is being made on the climate plan?One thing is Sandag. They are kicking off their development of the long-range regional transportation plan that is supposed to be passed in 2019. The mayor has been fairly absent from Sandag board meetings. He is a member but he does not attend. I think it's -- one thing that I'm going to be looking at is how interested is the mayor and being a part of these discussions in terms of the long range transportation network of San Diego county. Will he take the lead and advocate for mass transit? Will he take a backseat? I think that is something to watch in the coming months.I've been speaking with Angie about when. Thank you.Thank you. --

City officials are scheduled to announce Wednesday that San Diego remains ahead of schedule in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A plan to cut such emissions by half by 2035 — adopted by the City Council nearly two years ago — is a key part of the city's plan to address climate change. The plan established policies in a variety of areas, set goals compared to a 2010 baseline and fixed target years for when to meet them.

RELATED: San Diego City Employees Lead On Public Transit, Lag On Bikes


Last year, the first progress report noted that the city had emitted 10.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere in 2015, already surpassing a goal of 11 million tons by 2020. The baseline set in 2010 was 12.9 million metric tons.

The goal by 2035 is 6.5 million.

The climate change plan also asked for a per-capita reduction in daily water consumption of 11 gallons, but the drop in 2015 was already 16 gallons, according to the report.

RELATED: EPA Chief Announces Reversal Of Obama-Era Curbs On Coal Plants

Among other findings in the initial report are the following:


–Annual greenhouse gas emissions per capita decreased from 10 metric tons in 2010 to 7.9 five years later.

–35 percent of electricity used citywide was generated from renewable sources, with a 2035 target of 100 percent.

–64 percent of waste was diverted from the Miramar Landfill, 12 percentage points higher than 2010 and on the way to a 2020 goal of 75 percent.

–75 percent of gas emitted from the landfill was captured, with a 2020 target of 80 percent; and

–93 percent of methane from the wastewater treatment process was captured, compared to a hoped-for 98 percent in 2020.

The plan also called for a 15 percent cut in energy use by the city government by 2020. In 2015, the drop was 6 percent.