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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego Moves Into Least Restrictive Tier

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PHOTO BY KPBS STAFF

Above: A sign outside the entrance of Kobey's Swap Meet at the Sports Arena encourages guests to social distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. April 10, 2021.

San Diego County is officially in the yellow tier as of today, thanks to big drops in the rate of new COVID-19 infections. Plus, a San Diego-based FBI-led operation was centered around the creation of an encrypted phone company. And Breakfast Block, a grassroots San Diego group founded early this year, works to feed, clothe and provide other essential items to San Diego's growing unsheltered population. Then, the city council approves changes to the city’s housing plan after the state asks for tweaks. Also, while most climate news is bleak, UC San Diego scientists point to niches like electric vehicles, batteries and the solar and wind industries that are seeding a decarbonization revolution. Finally, a story about a plus-size model who’s proud of her body, but has health issues that lead her to undergo weight-loss surgery in Tijuana, where it's more affordable.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego County enters the yellow tier just ahead of the big reopening day-to-day

Speaker 2: 00:05 Life will revert to as close to normal as we've been in more than a year and a half.

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Andrew Bowen with Jade Heinemann Maureen Kavanaugh is off. This is KPBS midday edition, a massive sting operation with roots in San Diego catches hundreds of suspected drug traffickers.

Speaker 3: 00:30 They were sending pictures to each other about drug loads and they were talking about prices. And we're going to put it on this ship, but this time it's going to arrive at this port. I think they were just very shocked at how much the criminal organizations trusted the platform to do their business.

Speaker 1: 00:45 A black led mutual aid group in San Diego, aims to fight homelessness and injustice through solidarity and a plus size models decision to get weight loss surgery in Tijuana that's ahead on midday. Addition, San Diego County is officially in the yellow tier as of today. Thanks to big drops in the rate of new COVID-19 infections. That's good news for businesses. Yellow is the least restrictive tier here to tell us what being in the yellow tier means for San Diego County is KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, Matt. Welcome. Hey Andrew. So how do we get into the yellow tier? And what changes does it make to the COVID-19 restrictions? Basically, we got in the yellow tier by having a low case rate. You know, we wouldn't, you know, Dr. Wooten said that we need to be averaging about a hundred cases per day to get here.

Speaker 1: 01:33 And that's what we're averaging about a hundred cases per day. Um, so that drops us into the States at least restrictive tier. And with that basically, you know, capacity increases not, not fully increases, um, but you know, for gyms we're at 50% capacity bars, indoor 25% capacity restaurants up to 50% family entertainment centers, 50% even amusement parks get to go up more outdoor events, indoor events, also big news for like the events industry. When we talk about weddings, um, they can have a lot more people now, um, at their outdoor and indoor gatherings, our vaccination rates have been credited for getting us this far and into the least restrictive tier. Where are we currently in terms of vaccinations? Right? So officials have a goal of getting 75% of those 12 and older vaccinated. And we are about 80% toward that goal. So almost there, but officials think that we are on a good path to reaching herd immunity, but not we're only going to be in the yellow tier for about a week, right? Tell us what happens on June 15th, right? So on June 15th, you know, the state's blueprint for a safer economy that, that tier system, the color-coded tier system we've hit every single tier from purple all the way to orange, all the way to yellow. Um, and basically that whole thing is going away. Now, there will be some restrictions that stay in place, but, you know, County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher basically said, you know, for the first time in more than a year, we're going to see, uh, basically a return to normalcy, June 15th,

Speaker 2: 02:50 San Diego County, we will align with the state, uh, the tears will be gone. Uh, they will be putting out, uh, some guidance for, for a handful of scenarios and situations, uh, but to day life, uh, for, uh, San Diego, we'll revert to, uh, as close to normal as we've been, uh, in more than a year and a half,

Speaker 1: 03:06 But you know, some experts like our County, public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten caution that we are still seeing cases. We are still seeing some hospitalizations and deaths and the pandemic is just simply not going away right away.

Speaker 4: 03:17 The pandemic is not over June 15th is, uh, not the magic date or bullet for, uh, declaring that the pandemic is over. It is not, we are still seeing cases, but things are slowing down and that's, what's important. So

Speaker 1: 03:33 Things are slowing down and that is certainly good. But what restrictions, if any, will remain in place after June 15th? Yeah. So there are going to be some restrictions that remain in place, but a lot of that is for like big, you know, a big gathering. So we're talking about conventions, conferences and expos, um, and, and basically, you know, uh, large scale indoor events and even some outdoor events will have vaccination or negative test requirements for attendees through at least October 1st. And we know that there's a number of events coming to the San Diego convention center, but that also impacts things like fairs. You know, we have the, the smaller scale down version of the fair coming up. Um, and also, um, for theme parks, amusement parks and water parks and some sporting events too. It seems like a lot of businesses have been really eager to reopen as quickly as possible.

Speaker 1: 04:17 And, and of course, they're looking ahead to that June 15th date and maybe jumping the gun a bit. Is this something you've noticed that businesses are kind of relaxing their restrictions, even though it might not be meeting the letter of the law in terms of what they're allowed to do? Right. I can say just anecdotally myself, you know, I've seen, you know, packed bars that definitely are not at 50% capacity that you know, that they're not serving food. So not necessarily following the guidelines to a T, you know, but they are trying to keep people to have their masks on. Now I will say just even going to some sporting events here, um, it's a lot lattes with the masks. You know, they say that you have to have them on, but nobody's walking around saying, Hey, you must have this on, what are you doing?

Speaker 1: 04:54 So I think a lot of people, you know, when they heard sort of the CDC make that announcement in terms of people who are vaccinated, a lot of people kind of took their foot off the gas pedal there a little bit. But I think a lot of people, you know, now that we're less than one week away from this June 15th opening, um, some businesses are already thinking that we are there. There was some other COVID-19 news that broke yesterday. A woman who had received the COVID-19 vaccine died from the disease. Can you put this in context for us? We know it's pretty uncommon, right? Yeah. It definitely is pretty uncommon. Although we have seen some other, you know, people who have been vaccinated dying, but we know that this was a woman, an elderly woman who was in her seventies, who had some underlying conditions.

Speaker 1: 05:32 So, so that may have contributed to her, her death as well. Although it is very unfortunate that she did pass away, um, County officials, we don't know yet, obviously there's a number of strains of concern that the CDC is looking at, you know, maybe, um, uh, these, some of these mutations that are less receptive to the vaccine. Um, and that's a possibility that she may be had one of those stronger strains. Um, they don't know that yet. So we're waiting to see, you know, if that might be the case, Andrew, you know, the CDC defines rare instances as breakthrough cases, and those are infections or death after a person has completed everything. And when I say everything, I mean all their vaccinations. And we do know, you know, the CDC says on their website that no vaccine is a hundred percent effective. Now these vaccines just compare it to the flu vaccines, you know, which are maybe 60% effective. You know, we're talking 94, 92% effective, so extremely effective. But the CDC does say that there will be a small percentage of fully vaccinated. People who still get sick and are hospitalized are who die from COVID-19. But we know that in general, the COVID-19 vaccines are very, very, very effective. And officials want people to get vaccinated. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Matt Hoffman, and Matt. Thanks for joining us. Thanks Andrew.

Speaker 4: 06:49 Hey global crime steam that was made possible by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in San Diego has led to the arrest of hundreds of criminals across Europe and Australia. For years, organized crime members were utilizing the services of an encrypted phone service that they believed, allowed them to conduct their illicit business away from prying eyes. In reality, the supposed technology was the secret project of federal agents who use the tech to monitor everything from money laundering and drug trafficking to murder. Here's acting U S attorney for the Southern district of California, Brandy Grossman,

Speaker 2: 07:27 The criminals using these devices believe they were secretly planning crimes far beneath the radar of law enforcement. But in reality, the criminals were not underneath the radar. They were on

Speaker 4: 07:38 It. Joining me with more on this global story is Christina Davis, a federal court and criminal justice reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Christina, welcome. Thanks for having several hundred arrests were made yesterday by authorities across Europe and Australia. How did they know? It was time to,

Speaker 3: 07:58 We did ask that at the press conference at the us attorney's office yesterday, and they just said that it was a kind of mutually agreed upon by all of the different countries that were involved, that it was, it was time to, to bring it down. I think the countries involved, they had their own legal authorities, you know, to, to work on the case. And I think those legal authorities, you know, had to renew every so often. So I think that was also taken into consideration that when it was time to bring it down,

Speaker 4: 08:27 Is there any reason to believe that these efforts will lead to a number of arrest within the United States?

Speaker 3: 08:32 I don't think so. Basically this, the steam was designed to surveil, I guess, right? The electronic communications, the messages of non us citizens who are not operating in the United States. So for the U S part of the case, there is actually a prosecution that's happening now. Um, 17 people have been indicted in San Diego, they are all foreign nationals and that half of them were already arrested in the S in part of the sting. Um, in other countries, I think nine of them are still fugitives. So I think, you know, over the next several months, maybe we'll start seeing some of those people extradited to San Diego and they, they will face charges here,

Speaker 4: 09:11 Give us the brief overview of this operation, who were they targeting here and how many agencies were involved in getting it off the ground? They

Speaker 3: 09:19 Were targeting really criminal syndicates across the world, which SI it seems like such a huge target, right. But, you know, as, as we see it actually worked. So basically there were, there were targeting all of the organized crime groups that really rely on encrypted communications to conduct their business, you know, just over regular cell phones or, you know, even some of the platforms that we might use, like WhatsApp and things like that. Uh, law enforcement is able to tap into those communications, you know, legally to some degree, which has led to the explosion of these encrypted phone companies that really are designed for criminal activity mind, according to FBI. So they basically said let's destroy confidence in all of these encrypted platforms that the criminals are using by just creating

Speaker 4: 10:04 Our own. We'll tell us about that this, um, fake communications company that you, you mentioned that authorities use to essentially Trojan horse their way back into, uh, into the back pocket of organized crime.

Speaker 3: 10:16 These cases have kind of led investigators kind of into this encryption communications world. And at one point FBI agents and, um, us attorneys kind of sat around and they'd already been working with Australian authorities on some of these cases. And they said, you know, what, if we could actually do this ourselves and we could actually start the company from the ground up without anyone knowing. And so that's basically what they did. And it was, it was a pretty big effort. Um, Australia helped a lot with the technology. I'm told basically to be able to put into these devices, the ability to decrypt the messages and send them to law enforcement in real time. And so once they really had their arms, I think around the technology, then it was just a matter of, you know, figuring out how they were going to run a business, how they were going to make it look legitimate in the eyes of the criminal underworld. And I think they use some confidential sources and some undercover techniques to make that happen. The company was named a nom and I saw the website before it was taken offline and it looked, it looked pretty slick. How

Speaker 4: 11:16 Come one place are these encrypted phone companies in global criminal operations?

Speaker 3: 11:20 I think they're very commonplace at this point, but the interesting thing is a lot of them have been taken offline by Europe and Australia and, and the San Diego FBI was involved in some of these too, you know, Phantom secure was one of them sky global and CRO chat. So they've been going down and as these big companies go down, the users are looking for just to go into the next company to continue their business. So it'll be really interesting to see what the fallout is in the encrypted communications industry. As a result of this,

Speaker 4: 11:49 It's originated in San Diego with a figure that might be familiar to some drug kingpin, Owen Hanson, where does he fit into this thing?

Speaker 3: 11:57 So Owen Hanson was a Southern California guy. He played football for USC. He had some pretty high profile friends. He was kind of charismatic. He came from this background of privilege instead of really using like his degree and all of those kind of things he had going for him. He actually started, um, a sports gambling operation that was based off shore. And from there he got into drug trafficking. So the San Diego FBI started investigating him on that case. And right near the end of the operation, they actually got an undercover agent infiltrated into Hanson's inner circle and Hanson trusting. This guy gave him a F uh, an encrypted phone. And that phone ended up being, um, a Phantom secure phone and Phantom secure was a encrypted communications company running out of Canada. So having that phone really allowed the San Diego FBI to go after Phantom secure in a related case. And they worked with Canada and Australia basically to do a really big operation and to shut down Phantom secure, which they were about 10,000 users. And the FBI says that pretty much all those users were using it for criminal activity. So that's kind of where this case started. You know, from there, they kind of just kept getting deeper and deeper into, into the encrypted communications business, to where we are today. It

Speaker 4: 13:18 Seems hard to believe that, you know, even on an encrypted service criminals involved in global drug rings would be talking so openly about their operations. I mean, was there no attempt by these criminals to use any kind of coded language to hide their crimes?

Speaker 3: 13:33 Yeah. So I asked the special agent in charge of San Diego, Suzanne Turner, this at the press conference yesterday, I asked, you know, Hey, you guys had this kind of unfettered access to all of these communications. You know, what surprised you in looking at all this? And her answer was, we were just surprised at how like bold faced and unfiltered all of their communications were. I mean, they were talking, they were sending pictures to each other about, you know, drug loads and packages, and they were talking about prices. And we're gonna, we're gonna put it on this ship, but this time it's gonna arrive at this port. I think they were just very shocked at how much they, the criminal organizations trusted the platform to do their business.

Speaker 4: 14:10 I've been speaking with Christina Davis, a federal court and criminal justice reporter for the San Diego union Tribune. Christina, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Andrew Bowen. Maureen is off mutual aid groups. Run by volunteers have sprung up across San Diego County to fill in where social services fall, short race and equity reporter. Christina Kim tells us how one local group is working to feed the homeless.

Speaker 5: 14:51 It's 6:00 AM Sunday and Athena buzz Alaki and her boyfriend fed Nundah table are already brewing a second giant craft of coffee and assembling over 40 sandwiches. As music plays in the background, Buzzle Lockie dances around the kitchen, but she moves with the methodical purpose of someone that's done this routine a few times. She's the founder of breakfast block, a mutual aid volunteer run group that provides hot meals, tents, clothing, and anything else. People donate to San Diego's unsheltered population. This is her 10th event.

Speaker 6: 15:21 The other day, when I got home from work, there was just like boxes, uh, at the front of just donations of clothes. And I was like, Oh my goodness. Like, you know, we worry and we need stuff. And then people are like, boom,

Speaker 5: 15:34 Lucky says mutual aid, which has become increasingly popular during the pandemic is a simple concept rooted in community.

Speaker 6: 15:40 I mean, it's for all of us, cause the idea is if you needed help, I'm going to help you. And then if I need help, you're going to help me. And that's just how it works.

Speaker 5: 15:48 Basel Lockie first came up with the idea for breakfast block in February, after seeing a video, showing a group of San Diego police officers surrounding a homeless woman, one officer pointed a gun at her in that moment, something clicked. I

Speaker 6: 16:01 Realized that I have definitely, um, been guilty of looking past unsheltered people feeling guilty about what I have feeling guilty that I'm not doing enough, but this time I was like, you know what? Let's do

Speaker 5: 16:11 This by 8:00 AM, buzzer Lockie and over 20 volunteers are unloading two pickup trucks full of items. They set up on the bridge at the intersection of 17th and Island over the constant din of the I five. When they arrive, there's already alignment. People eager to see them, including Terry Young, who helps them unload boxes from the, yeah, he has been unsheltered for two years. He came early to help out and to grab some food and socks. He says, breakfast block feels like community.

Speaker 7: 16:43 You feel pretty comfortable. You know, people are really friendly. It's like family, no offense towards people. Pretty professional. The

Speaker 5: 16:51 Number of people that entered homelessness for the first time doubled last year in San Diego County, according to the regional task force on the homeless, finding a home is especially hard here where the median home price Rose to over $800,000 this past April and the rental market is equally tough with more than 130,000 low-income renters locked out of affordable housing. At one point during breakfast block Buzzle AKI is driving around the area with a megaphone in hand to let people know what's happening as a black woman and mother to two black sons, Basel Lockie is also deeply involved in the racial justice movement. She was on the front lines of the local protest last year, following the police violence that killed George Floyd and Brianna Taylor,

Speaker 6: 17:38 I felt like I was at my wit's end. And the only way to kind of express myself was to get out and protest in the streets.

Speaker 5: 17:45 She sees breakfast block as an extension of her racial justice work.

Speaker 6: 17:49 You know, the fact that it's disproportionately people of color, it's like, you know, there's something there, there are things that, that are adding up and it's these systems were put in place on purpose

Speaker 5: 18:01 Decades of racist policies like redlining over pay discrimination and unequal access to credit have made black Americans more vulnerable to housing insecurity. One in three homeless people in San Diego are black, even though black people only make up 5.5% of the general population Basel Lockie sees these struggles as interconnected.

Speaker 6: 18:22 It's not an individual issue. None of these issues are individual issues. These are, these are community problems and we have to be here for each other

Speaker 5: 18:30 By 10:30 AM. It's time to wrap up the breakfast block. We'll be back in a couple of weeks trying to make San Diego a more just place. One cup of coffee at a time. Christina Kim KPBS news

Speaker 1: 18:50 Politics largely agree that building more housing is a key factor to addressing the affordable housing crisis here. A crisis that forces many, including a disproportionate number of people of color into homelessness. As we just heard in an effort to boost home building the San Diego city council yesterday approved some finishing touches on the city's updated housing element. Joining me to break down what this means is Andy Keats, assistant editor and senior investigative reporter for voice of San Diego. Andy, welcome. Hello, Andrew, let's start with a basic, what is San Diego's housing element?

Speaker 8: 19:24 So every eight years, the city of San Diego and every other city in California has to spell out basically how they're going to make way for all of the housing that the state of California projects they're going to need in this. So the state of California projects that based on its population forecasts and its jobs forecasts, and those, those sorts of mandates kind of flow downhill from the state of California to each region in the state. And then each region kind of parses out however much housing they're going to need to each of the cities within them. So, so every eight years, every city has to go through this process and basically just say, state of California, you told us how much housing we need. We're going to need. Here's how we think we can do that.

Speaker 1: 20:08 No, in the past this state housing element law has been around for a half a century. It hasn't really done a lot to ensure that the homes, that cities plan for actually get built, of course, we're in this housing shortage in California. So what are the changes that state lawmakers have made recently to this process that try and make it a little bit more meaningful?

Speaker 8: 20:28 Yeah, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that this law has, has just really been a failure. If the goal is to get housing built or more importantly, to make housing more affordable, the state legislature has come at at trying to fix this problem. In two ways. One is by taking a couple steps to make cities do a little bit more in there. Uh, housing elements such as by actively identifying how they're going to combat, uh, segregation or discrimination in housing or how they're going to identify or forcing them to identify where specifically they think housing may be viable and might occur. Uh, the other thing that they've tried to do, that's been a little bit less successful is to attach some teeth with it. I think that's one of the big problems with this law is cities have been out of compliance with it, or they didn't comply with the spirit of it and nothing has happened. And so there's a bit of a movement in the last few years to make the law more meaningful by putting some repercussions on any cities that don't take it seriously or don't follow it at all.

Speaker 1: 21:30 So yesterday the city council unanimously approved a few amendments to this housing element. What were those amendments and why were they necessary?

Speaker 8: 21:39 The amendments were very modest. I think you could maybe make the case that they weren't really amendments at all as much as, uh, sort of articulating why they did the things that they did in hopes that the state would accept that as, and the reason that they did those things was because the state, when they got, when they received the city of San Diego's housing element law, they said, looks good. We're on we're we're with you here, but we need you to do two more things for us. One is to help us understand your document that you've put together where you think that housing is really viable, which of these specific properties you think housing might be built. Tell us a little bit more about that and spell out a little bit more specifically, uh, how you think you're going to actively combat segregation and discrimination. And so they really had to kind of just flesh out those ideas. And I would say that they didn't make many changes to the law per se, as much as they, they sort of just explained themselves more fully San

Speaker 1: 22:38 Diego is housing element update was getting attention from all over California. We heard some people calling in from Sacramento yesterday. Why are housing activists around the state concerned with local zoning here in San Diego?

Speaker 8: 22:50 Yeah. So every eight year cycle, everyone in the state has to go through this. We happened to be the first city to go through it, this cycle. And so, uh, housing advocates across the state have jumped on San Diego because they think that this might set a precedent for what all the other cities are gonna have to do. And so I think they're, they're hoping that the state takes a hard line with San Diego forces, the city to do more, not so much because of what they're worried about in San Diego, but because they're worried about what it will mean for other cities.

Speaker 1: 23:21 Some of the folks who called into the meeting yesterday raised questions about some of the sites where the city said, sure, new housing could reasonably be built here in the next eight years. Tell us about that.

Speaker 8: 23:34 Yeah, there were some, some groups, um, even some, some local nonprofits that there really has been much more advocacy around this from the state level than the local level, but there were some, some local equity nonprofits that put together some demands to the city where they, they called out specific sites that the city said might be reasonable locations for new housing and said, eh, these don't seem that reasonable to us that that list included a cemetery. It included the Copley price. Why MCA a multi-million dollar project that is quite new that I don't think anyone thinks is going to be redeveloped in the next eight years and sort of, uh, you know, they were poking holes in the city's plan by identifying some of these high profile locations where the city said, it's, it's likely that, uh, housing will be built in the next eight years. And common sense tells you that that's not likely at all.

Speaker 1: 24:24 San Diego was tasked with zoning for about 108,000 new homes in this housing element update. And the city says it has that. And then some even more capacity, but how likely is it that all of those homes that the state says San Diego needs will actually get built?

Speaker 8: 24:42 If history is any indicator, not likely at all in the last cycle. For instance, the city of San Diego was given a target of 88,000 homes and it actually issued permits for about 39,000. So it didn't even come halfway to a number that is smaller than the number assigned to it right now, if you took the single best year from the last housing cycle, which was 2016, just over 6,000 units and assume that the city would do that every single year during the next cycle, they still wouldn't even be halfway to the number that's been assigned to tend to. And this year we're not even in the same neighborhood of these numbers in any city, really in the state, in San Diego, specifically, we're talking about orders of magnitude more homebuilding needed to even get in the territory of these targets.

Speaker 1: 25:33 So now that the city council has approved these minor amendments to the housing element, what happens next?

Speaker 8: 25:39 Uh, so the, the state will take a look at it and decide whether it is, uh, up to standard. And if it is, then it will sign off on it. And, uh, other cities will start following in the city's path. And, uh, you know, I think we don't really know how that's going to go. Uh, the city of San Diego has certainly placed its bet on the fact that the state will be fine with this. And maybe that's the case, in which case, uh, we'll start to see other cities, uh, put their plans together. And they'll probably look a lot like the city of San Diego's.

Speaker 1: 26:09 I've been speaking with Andy Keats, assistant editor and senior investigative reporter for voice of San Diego. Andy, thanks for following the story with us. And thanks Andrew.

Speaker 4: 26:28 Do you remember when the pandemic started, everyone parked their cars, the world seemingly stopped and there were reports that the earth was healing, that there was cleaner air. Well, even with that reduction in emissions, the climate has actually reached another grim milestone. The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere hit its highest ever recorded level in may 419 parts per million, according to data released by the national oceans and atmospheric administration. But while most climate news is bleak, there are glimmers of hope as David Victor, a professor of industrial innovation at UC San Diego school of global policy and strategy writes in an article published in the journal nature. He points to niches like electric vehicles, batteries, and solar and wind industries that are seeding a decarbonisation revolution. And David Victor joins me to talk about why this is so important now, David welcome. It's terrific to be with you. You co-wrote this article with Ryan Hannah and assistant research scientist at UC San Diego who studies energy, who were you talking to and what do you want them to do with this information?

Speaker 8: 27:40 Well, we're speaking really to policymakers who were getting together later this week at the [inaudible] meetings to talk about climate change and other topics they're getting together again, the end of this year at a big meeting on climate change to take stock of progress on the Paris agreement and they're trying to set goals. And so we wrote this article to try and make those goals realistic and connected to what's really happening in the energy system and in part, because there's a lot of pessimism out there. The overall picture is that emissions are still very high. They went down and only 7% last year during the pandemic they're roaring back right now. Um, but then we see these areas. You mentioned electric vehicles, batteries, solar, wind, there's all these areas. These niches, where a lot of progress is being made and we're are arguing. The policymakers should focus more on those niches and on accelerating them so that we can create the kinds of energy revolutions needed to stop global warming.

Speaker 4: 28:31 Let's talk about those niches. You use the examples of electric vehicles, solar panels, and batteries. You say they are moving at a stunning pace. How do these industries illustrate the possibility of change?

Speaker 8: 28:44 Well, these industries are the place where we should have hope because when you look at the overall global picture changes very, very slow. Uh, overall emissions are still going up globally. The overall energy system is decarbonized, as we say just a little bit over time, but then when you look closely at individual niches, the rates of change are truly extraordinary. So for example, in electric vehicles, we are going to see over the next 10 to 15 years in a few markets like California, essentially the elimination of the internal combustion engine and a switch completely to a new kind of technology. Norway is doing something similar. Korea is now doing something similar. So it's in these places where we can see a lot more hope. And if we invest more in those, then we have the capability of building and creating these revolutions in technology that are going to be needed ultimately to spread around the world and cause big global reductions in emissions.

Speaker 4: 29:37 So are these niches, just a technological phenomenon?

Speaker 8: 29:40 That's good question. The niches are both technological and political. So technologically you have new devices come into place that then get better with experience and investment. Think about electric vehicles as each new generation of electric vehicles gets better. But then also politically what happens is you build new interest groups that want those technologies to be successful and adopted more widely. And those interest groups then organize to change policy. And so it's the interaction between technology and politics. It really explains why these niches then, uh, gather and gain a much greater, ultimately global impact.

Speaker 4: 30:16 More and more. We are hearing companies and countries and the state of California make net zero pledges and the goal of carbon neutrality. But you have a caution about this, how realistic is net zero? Yeah, so

Speaker 8: 30:30 That's one of the other reasons we wrote this article is that it's very easy given all the political pressure for action on climate change to make bold promises that you then can't live up to. And zero is a good example. About 70% of global emissions come from countries that have net zero pledges by mid mid-century here in California. We have a net zero pledge by the year 2045. Zero is a really, really small number. And for all the progress we're making an individual niches, for example, electric cars, there are other kinds of energy uses buildings, heavy trucks, where we don't really have the solutions at hand. And we're a little concerned that the race to net zero while well-meaning is going to result in companies and governments investing a lot in accounting tricks that gets you to zero, as opposed to the real reductions in emissions that that will ultimately be needed to heal the planet.

Speaker 4: 31:18 And you also point out, we have to be vigilant about auditing the promises made, right?

Speaker 8: 31:23 Yeah, I think that's crucially important. And California's a great example of that. Part of our system of emission controls here in California is to allow companies to get credit for, uh, offset. So for example, if you invest in a forest in protecting a forest, you can get credit for the carbon. That's kept in the forest as opposed to release dove in the atmosphere. And some very careful research has been done over the last few years, looking at the quality of these credits. And most of them are just terrible. So you've got companies getting credit that helps them get to net zero. When in reality, they're not actually making reductions in emissions and that kind of vigilance is needed if we're really going to, to, to fix the climate problem as opposed to shuffle a bunch of money around and pretend that we're fixing it.

Speaker 4: 32:05 The group of seven nations, as you mentioned, is, is meeting this weekend in the UK. What are you going to be looking for coming out of those talks on climate change?

Speaker 8: 32:15 Well, I'm going to be looking for two things. At least the first is how much attention climate change really gets that the British government is investing very heavily in action on climate change. They've made that the center of their hosting of the G seven meeting, but the G seven meetings happen in the context of whatever's going on in the world. And we have cyber attacks. We have the ongoing pandemic, we have all kinds of other problems. And so, um, the first thing gonna be looking for is to what degree to real promises come out of these meetings about climate change. And the other thing I'll be looking at is what's called climate finance. It's been a lot of progress made with finance ministers, uh, trying to re rewrite the rules around finance, the disclosure rules around finance so that the capital markets know more about the, their exposures to climate change. And so that the incentives are there for money. Ultimately, trillions of dollars. We're talking about to move into the kinds of investments we need for reduction of emissions. And there's been a lot of progress, uh, in small working groups. And I'm going to be looking for a big announcements around client climate finance, the G seven meeting later this week,

Speaker 4: 33:18 The G seven meeting this weekend is a bit of a preview of the UN climate change conference. Also known as cop or conference of parties, 26 happening this fall. What are you hoping will come from that conference?

Speaker 8: 33:32 Well, what we know is going to happen at the conference is that every country that goes is going to go with a new pledge, a new promise to the rest of the world, about the reduction in emissions, that it will be making the Biden administration is going to promise to reduce its emissions 50 to 52%. Um, by the year 2030, for example, a lot of these pledges are just not anchored in any reality. So what I'm going to be looking for at the cop 26 meetings later this year is which are the countries and ultimately firms and individual sectors of the economy, which are going to come with the plans that we can really measure the impact and then demonstrate. Here's how we make big reductions in this sector, whether it's steel or cement or electric power, here's how we make the reductions. Then here's how those emission reductions will scale up over time. And that's, that's going to be the ultimate measure of progress is sector by sector, niche by niche. As we argue in this new article in nature energy, uh, that's how we're going to solve the decarbonization problem. And, and I'm hoping that there will be a lot of big pledges around that at the meetings later this year,

Speaker 4: 34:38 I've been speaking with David Victor, professor of industrial innovation at UC San Diego school of global policy and strategy. David, thank you so much for joining us Jayda. It's always a pleasure. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 34:58 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Andrew Bowen with Jade Heinemann Tanzania Brown is a plus size model and body positivity influencer on Instagram, but just as the San Diego model's career started taking off, she started experiencing serious medical issues related to her weight. Extreme bouts of sleep apnea had her scared and the solution, her doctors told her was to lose weight quickly in a new episode of KPBS, his border podcast, port of entry hosts, Alan Lillian Thall and producer Kinsey Morlin continue their series on medical tourism. They follow Brown's weight loss journey, which takes her across the U S Mexico border and into Tijuana where she undergoes more affordable bariatric surgery,

Speaker 9: 35:43 The full cost for the surgery and all the checkups Tanzania has done is about $3,400. And she says, she feels like that low price did not come with low quality

Speaker 10: 35:54 Care. They were like, checking on me constantly. They were walking with me. They were checking my hydration. They were asking me if I was okay. Like it was, it was a lot of kids. Um, they did a really great job here. I love it here.

Speaker 9: 36:11 After about a half hour, wait, Tanzania got called back to meet with her nutrition. As she walked back to the office, her pants actually started sort of falling off because of all the weight she's lost and how quickly she's lost it. Yeah.

Speaker 10: 36:30 And this is crazy because this is one of my newer, I'm not spending that much money on clothes. Cause I keep having to like buy new one, but I knew one like the Walmart $2 leggings section, probably what you should do seriously. Thank you. Thank you so much. This is the moment of truth. Are you nervous or just excited? I'm scared. Okay. One to seven and five pounds is like two 79. Yeah. Oh wow. Why? What are you thinking right now that I'm close to the a hundred, like three pounds. That's amazing. Yeah, no, just keep working out.

Speaker 9: 37:36 So yeah, Tanzania has lost nearly 100 pounds since she started her weight loss journey. After weighing in the nutritionist, gave Tanzania a new diet plan. Then a few minutes later, she and Kenzie were headed back to the car then to the sentence, either a port of entry to cross back to the U S as they walked outside, they saw a bus parked in front of the clinic. A bunch of older white folks with their suitcases were getting off of it. They were clearly medical tourists there to get their own procedures done. They're

Speaker 10: 38:08 Probably all flown in from somewhere out of the United States and they came and they're all getting their surgeries like today or tomorrow.

Speaker 9: 38:19 Once they cross the street and Tanzania tip the water, the coach a few bucks for watching her car. It was time to head back across the border and home to San Diego.

Speaker 10: 38:32 Yeah, I guess we'll see how far back the line is. I hope it's not far. I want to be back already. I'm tired. Yeah. That's the worst part about crossing the border exactly right to the borderline, you know, your way around a little bit. Yeah. Here we go. So you get in the borderline right here. Still legit. Just break through this light. They really plan their location strategically. Yeah. So convenient. Oh my gosh. No. So the line is far back. Good. Dang it. See, I'm never doing an appointment this late. I don't know.

Speaker 9: 39:23 So yeah. The line to cross back from Tijuana to San Diego that day was super long. And as soon as they stopped, they got bombarded with border vendors. One offering fresh churros and another really persistent guy who really, really wanted to clean her windows. Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Nope.

Speaker 10: 39:47 Mom, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Nope. I don't even want to guess in jinx myself. No grass. Yes. I mean, I'm up to go around maybe two hours. I hope not.

Speaker 9: 40:18 So Tanzania did eventually make it back to San Diego and she says, she's feeling great, but she still has one pretty big problem. She's dropping weight like crazy. And a few of her Instagram followers have started noticing. So now Tanzania, the body positivity influencer is worried that the one corner of the internet that really celebrates her body could turn on her as her body continues to change.

Speaker 11: 40:49 I like reached out to one of the mods of the group and I was just like, Hey, like I wanted to let you know that I am getting surgery, but you know, as for health reasons, like in no way, am I trying to like promote surgery or anything, but she was just immediately like I'm against it. You know, one of my friends actually did it and they died from it during the surgery and stuff. And she was just like, you know, people on this community, don't like diet culture. And that's what this is. And I was just like, wow. Okay.

Speaker 11: 41:27 So I pretty much have kept quiet about it since then. I just am not putting it out there publicly right now. But I do want to eventually just because I feel like even though, like I am a part of that community, it still is a part of my journey and it's who I am. It's crazy. Cause like, even like a lot of the girls in the group, they have health issues, like big health issues and they won't do it for themselves. And I'm just like, okay, well if that's what you choose, that's you. But if I want to, you know, better my health for me and for my family and stuff, then that's me. And you should respect that if someone wants to fix something that they are internally dealing with, then they should be able to do that. So it's really difficult. I honestly feel like if the body positive community, you know, has an issue with that, are they really body positive?

Speaker 1: 42:37 It was plus sized model, Tanzania Brown talking with port of entries, Kinsey Morlin and Alan Deleon thought.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.