Report: San Diego Region Gets Mixed Grades On Climate Action
Speaker 1: 00:00 When it comes to fighting climate change, the San Diego region is making progress, but there's still a lot more that could be done. The San Diego based nonprofit climate action campaign is out with its 2020 climate action plan report card. It grades cities and the County with bronze, silver and gold ratings. And so far the grades are mixed. Joining us to talk more about the findings of the report card is Muleeka Marsden. She's a climate justice advocate and organizer with the climate action campaign. Muleeka welcome. Thank you so much for having me. So let's start with the big picture. This is the fourth edition of the report card. No cities in the region received a gold medal for climate action, but generally speaking, how much progress is the region making toward carbon neutrality and other climate action goals? Right. Um, so I do want to start by saying that there are some really great wins that we want to celebrate, especially around clean energy. Speaker 1: 00:56 We now have eight cities in the region that are committed to 100% clean energy and eight cities that are moving forward with community choice energy programs, which will provide residents with cleaner energy and lower rates. So that is really, really wonderful. Um, we also have seen some cities move forward to make sure that equity is centered in their climate solutions, which is great. So overall, um, while we are winning some battles, we are losing the fight against the climate crisis and no cities were received the gold standard because cities are primarily failing to address our largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which is transportation. Um, and that's for a few reasons. That's because we are continuing to build sprawl, uh, rather than density. So we need to start building affordable housing near jobs and transit. And it's also because, uh, cities are really feeling to, to provide residents with real transportation choices, uh, that help residents move around the region without a car. Speaker 1: 02:01 And as you were saying, the implementation of community choice energy in the city of San Diego and a number of other municipalities seems to be the biggest success story to come out of the report. Why is that important? Yeah, so community choice is really great for a lot of reasons. Um, it allows us to dramatically slash emissions in the regions in the region by providing more clean energy at lower rates. Um, and uh, putting the community in charge. Um, this is a public nonprofit, uh, power agency. So we really have control as residents, uh, to how we, how we reinvest the revenue that we make from these agencies, how and where we get clean energy. Uh, so it's really, really exciting for the region and the report points out that housing needs to be built near public transit and closer to where jobs are. What do you take from the results, the recent election where as things stand now, voters turned down both housing related measures a and B? Speaker 1: 03:06 Yeah. So I think the results from that show that, um, there is a strong response that, uh, residents do not want sprawl and residents are ready to see us build, um, affordable housing near jobs and transits to start building smart growth. What other areas do cities need to make improvements on? Uh, so cities are also falling behind on their goals to implement their urban tree canopy targets. So I'm essentially planting shade trees to help remove carbon of the air as well as achieve their zero waste goals. And although we've seen a Imperial beach and city of San Diego elevate equity and climate solutions, most of the region is also failing to center equity in their climate solutions as well. You know, the climate action campaigns, primary focus is working with local governments throughout the County. The report card points out some cities though, like Poway aren't making a commitment to fight climate change. Speaker 1: 04:06 Why do you think that is and how do you overcome that barrier? I think that there is, um, a lot of climate denial going on and delay and, um, we are about building the people power and the political will, um, and helping people realize how climate solutions actually lead to quality in life, quality of life improvements for people. The example is CCEE, which will not only provide cleaner energy but lower rates for residents. The County was also called out in the report for having a fatally flawed climate action plan. Why is that? So the County is going against a, what we know are the necessary strategies to fight the climate crisis and they are, uh, continuing to build sprawl, which increases transportation emissions and, um, threatens all regional progress. A consistent argument for not taking certain actions to mitigate climate change is the cost. How do you make the case to cities dealing with tight budgets that they need to make these investments now? Speaker 1: 05:16 So what is the cost of not taking action? There are a lot of reports out there showing that the costs will actually be a lot higher to our infrastructure, um, and other things. Um, but also we want to point out that, uh, we are calling for a regional climate authority. This would be a place where, uh, cities could come together, break down silos, uh, collaborate, strategize, and also, um, come together to apply for regional funding to implement their climate strategies. You know, how do you craft your message so that people don't end up feeling overwhelmed and just tune out when we look at all of the climate issues before us, right? So, um, we tell people that while the climate crisis is our greatest threat, it's also our grape greatest opportunity. Uh, we know now from climate science that we need to be on the path to achieve zero carbon. So get off fossil fuels entirely. And to do that, we are going to have to change everything about the way our economy works, the way we live. And so this is an opportunity tunity to change who it works for. Um, this is an opportunity to make our, our communities more just more equitable and more prosperous. I've been speaking with Muleeka Marsden with the climate action campaign. Malika, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me.