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San Diego County Sets Plan For Zero Carbon Emissions By 2035

Speaker 1: 00:00 Cutting carbon emissions is one of the tools local communities are hoping to use to make inroads in slowing the effects of climate change. The County board of supervisors voted last week to make San Diego the largest us County to commit to zero carbon emissions by 2035 supervisors, Terra Lawson, reamer, and Nora Vargas spearheaded the effort and supervisor Lawson reamer joins me now with more welcome to the show. Speaker 2: 00:26 Hi, great to be here. So this Speaker 1: 00:28 Effort is in response to a petition. Tell me about that. Speaker 2: 00:31 Frankly, climate is the existential crisis that we face in our lifetimes. If we cannot mobilize to take action now on climate, then there will be no future for our children and everything we think about gay and day out in terms of, you know, making sure that our kids have school opportunities. And, um, you know, we're, we're fighting for their futures. All is completely irrelevant if there's not a healthy planet for them to grow up on it. If their planet is consumed by floods and wildfires and, um, you know, devastation. So this is a huge issue. It's a huge issue for voters. It's a huge issue for people across San Diego. 1500 people came together to demand that the County take urgent action. Uh, and I'm just really proud to be part of that movement and part of that movement for, for climate action and for climate justice here in San Diego, because the leadership is coming from, from everywhere. I mean, I know it was myself and supervisor Vargas who put the, the board letter forward, but honestly we're only gonna make progress on this. If we all continue to fight day in and day out, we all continue to demand action. And I'm just, I'm so impressed and so honored to be able to be part of the movement that, uh, people have been building for a long time. Speaker 1: 01:45 The County is teaming up with UCS D to create the zero carbon plan. How will that partnership work? Speaker 2: 01:51 So actually as you CST is, um, done a lot of work looking at other countries, our federal government, you know, just going back to basics on science and saying, what would it really mean to think outside the box and think about all the things that we need to do to reduce and eliminate our carbon footprint here in San Diego. I mean, the fact is, is for the last 40 years, uh, there's been various conversations about climate, but it's always been about what's the least we can do. What's the least we can get away with just to be barely in compliance with state law. And this turns the question on its head. This is what do we need to do? What does the science say where? And so you assist is going to be drawing on a team of researchers from across the country. That's looked at these questions and other contexts and able to say, you know, this is what the science says. Speaker 2: 02:40 This is what the evidence says that we need to do to reduce and eliminate our carbon footprint here in San Diego County. I also want to note that they're going to be working really closely with another team at USD, uh, a group called Epic who has a lot of local expertise. And it's going to be looking at how you translate some of these, uh, big, uh, scientific breakthroughs into actual policy initiatives here in our own community. Um, so it's, it's really a partnership that draws in the best of our local leadership, the best of our, our, uh, local expertise, uh, through Epic and through USD, as well as global expertise in global, a global knowledge base that, that looks at the science and what's possible and what's necessary from around the world. Speaker 1: 03:20 So tell me what kinds of things exactly will be included in this plan. Speaker 2: 03:24 I mean, I'll be honest. We don't know yet, right? I mean, and I think that's why we really wanted, uh, the researchers at USD and Epic and UCS and the, and the GPS, which is where I used to be on faculty, uh, to take a look and take fresh eyes because our whole goal here is to say nothing is off the table. Everything is on the table. We need to look at anything that might be a possible strategy to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions. So honestly, you know, we are letting them just take, take it over from here to come back with, uh, as many thoughtful and creative suggestions that come from the best evidence-based research from around the world. So we can figure out how to make that happen here in San Diego County, Speaker 1: 04:10 The plan will focus on decreasing emissions from certain sectors. What are some of those sectors? Are we talking transportation, energy, Speaker 2: 04:18 Everything, absolutely transportation vehicles, mile traveled, um, energy looking at how do we make our buildings much more energy efficient, the power sector, uh, water, you know, you name it, everything that's, uh, consuming carbon. We're looking at, you know, what are, what are the, what are some of the alternatives that, that we should be exploring? I also want to note one of the core commitments of this work is that it has to also be about good jobs and growing the San Diego economy. I'm not to, that's baked into what we're looking at doing. That's part of the DNA of this proposal is that we're, we're looking at how good jobs and growing our economy and creating a new green economy goes hand in hand with reducing our carbon footprint. So we're absolutely looking from the outset about how you build the future economy and the green economy in the process of decarbonizing, uh, because the, the research is pretty clear that there's really extraordinary, um, growth opportunities in this process of moving to a green economy, that we can have good green jobs. We can have jobs that pay a middle-class income that allow folks that to support their families. And we can do that while building a green future for our children. Speaker 1: 05:39 And tell me the board voted to rehaul its climate action plan a few weeks ago. How does this zero carbon plan fit into the county's climate action plan? Or is it separate? Speaker 2: 05:48 Think about these as two ships moving the same direction, um, but they're not the same ship. So the climate action plan is a legally mandated plan that we have to produce per state law to reduce carbon emissions, mostly in our unincorporated areas. And there's a lot of sort of basic minimums that this plan needs to meet, that it hasn't met so far, which is why we've been sued three times and it keeps getting thrown out because the old board wouldn't take any action on climate. So the climate action plan is looking at a number of pretty diverse range of policy interventions that can happen in the near to medium term to mitigate our carbon emissions in our unincorporated areas. The regional sustainability plan has a much bigger lens instead of looking sort of backwards about how do we reduce carbon that we have already been mandated to produce the regional sustainability plan is how do we restructure our economy from the bottom up so that it's not a carbon based economy and opens up the box of what all the different sectors and all the different measures are that we should be looking at, not just the narrow ones that are already policy tools in the county's toolkit in the unincorporated areas. Speaker 2: 07:07 Uh, so it asks a much wider set of questions. We certainly need both. We need a much more ambitious climate action plan and we're going to be working and pushing to make that happen. At the same time that we ask the bigger and deeper questions about how do we build a regional sustainability plan that doesn't only look at the townie counties toolkit, but looks at policies that can be pursued in tandem with other jurisdictions, with other cities, um, with waterboards with, uh, the private sector. So the kinds of policies that we're going to need a regional partnerships to make happen. Those are the kinds of things that are going to be on the table with the regional sustainability plan that are not on the table with the climate action. Speaker 1: 07:45 Okay. So what does all this mean to the average resident? What changes will they see as a result? I think it's gonna be Speaker 2: 07:51 Pretty exciting. Um, I mean, I think the first thing that we will see is just like a much clear focus on how do we improve the ability for people to live close to where they work, uh, spend less time in their cars because cars are obviously a huge contributor to carbon emissions. And if they can't, you know, live that close to work, then how do we ensure that they're not stuck idling in traffic? Because I don't think the traffic is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions either. There's going to be a lot more opportunities for electric vehicles and electrical vehicle charging. Uh, we're definitely looking at energy efficiency and energy efficiency, retrofits, and how can we support businesses and homeowners to move towards greater efficiency. So that'll be a lot of cost savings for homeowners and for businesses, you know, down the line. And once those energy efficiency, retrofits, uh, are able to move forward, you know, looking at more support for solar, more support for wind power. Speaker 2: 08:51 So there's going to be a lot of those changes. I do also think it's important to note that this is the beginning of a journey. You know, that's why it was so incredibly heartening to see 1500 people sign that petition because this is not going to happen overnight. Right. What we've done now is kind of put the framework together to begin figuring out what these different measures are going to look like and what these different policies are going to be. But it's going to be at least a year until we get that analysis completed from our friends at, at Epic and USD and UCLA. And they come back with a set of recommendations and analysis. And so it won't really be until after that, that we'll begin to be able to begin to start to implement some of these policies. And, uh, the other thing I just want to flag for folks, uh, not only is it going to take us a while to, to see those changes, it's definitely a long process. Speaker 2: 09:40 It's also going to take everyone's input. So we're structuring a process. That's really community driven. There's going to be a lot of need for communities to raise their voices, make sure their voices are heard in this process. Uh, UCS D is going to be conducting a lot of stakeholder workshops. The County is going to be conducting a lot of stakeholder workshops. We're going to have an advisory committee on the regional sustainability plan and a lot of space for, for communities to have input. So, uh, this is going to be, um, a process over the next year to figure out what this is gonna look like. Uh, and it's going to be a process that's going to ask really ask communities to step forward participate. Speaker 1: 10:14 I've been speaking with San Diego County supervisor, Terra, Lawson, reamer, supervisor loss, and reamer. Thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 10:21 Thank you so much. It's really a pleasure to be here. Speaker 3: 10:31 [inaudible].

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