Report: City of San Diego ahead of schedule to meet clean air goal
Published - 01/01/20 - 12:00 PM | 2631 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City of San Diego has slashed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 24 percent over the past decade – far surpassing the 2020 goal of 15 percent – and conducted a first-ever analysis on climate equity, according to the Climate Action Plan 2019 Annual Report released last week.

The City’s landmark Climate Action Plan calls for slashing GHGs in half by 2035 compared to emissions from 2010. This year marks the fourth consecutive year of reductions with 24 percent, compared to 21 percent a year ago.

“Climate action isn’t just a phrase in San Diego – it’s a way of life. The investments we’re making now to protect the environment will pay huge dividends going forward,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “We’re making solid progress on leaving behind a cleaner San Diego, but we know there is much more work to do and it’s going to take all of us being part of the solution to get where we need to go.”

The analysis outlined in the report attributed much of the changes to a decrease in natural gas emissions and an increase in water use emissions. In 2018, natural gas emissions decreased by 12 percent. Less rain in 2017 and 2018 meant the City imported more water, which led to a 19 percent increase in emissions in the water category.

The GHG goal in the Climate Action Plan – unanimously approved by a bipartisan City Council in 2015 – was established based on San Diego’s level in 2010. The plan also requires annual monitoring of greenhouse gas levels.

Other key findings in the report:

• 15 percent reduction in residential energy use;

• 14 gallon reduction in daily per capita water use;

• 2.5 percent reduction in municipal energy use;

• 43 percent use of renewable electricity citywide;

• 8,800 linear feet of improved sidewalks;

• 64 electric vehicle charging stations;

• 100 hybrids in municipal fleet.

“San Diego is demonstrating to the world that we can be a resilient, thriving community in an uncertain climate while improving the quality of life for residents,” said Cody Hooven, the City’s chief sustainability officer. “We are using solar, installing bike lanes and planting trees all in an effort to reach our climate goals. Together, as a community, we are creating a city of the future.”

Additionally, the report finds that sustainability efforts have helped spur the local economy and create jobs. For example, jobs related to sustainability have grown 17.6 percent since 2010, with the largest increase in the clean and renewable energy sector. San Diego’s clean tech job concentration is also double the national average for overall job growth. To date, all 17 actions called for in the Climate Action Plan are in progress or complete.

The report also includes the country’s first in-depth analysis of climate equity across the city. The Climate Equity Index looks at environmental and socioeconomic factors that need attention when addressing access to opportunities for communities that have been historically underserved. The index uses 35 indicators to measure equity impacts, including flood risk, poverty, transportation, and traffic, among others. The goal is to better identify vulnerable communities and inform decision-making for neighborhood investments while providing a data-driven approach to measure progress.

“The Climate Equity Index was developed in partnership with organizations throughout the city to better understand and serve our communities that face barriers to opportunity,” said Climate Equity Specialist Roberto C. Torres. “It’s the first time a city has done an assessment like this to help address climate equity and San Diego is one of only a handful of cities in the country with staff dedicated to bringing climate equity to our neighborhoods.”

The Climate Action Plan is a landmark package of policies that benefits San Diego’s environment and economy. It has helped create new jobs in the renewable energy industry, improved public health and air quality, conserved water, more efficiently used existing resources, increased clean energy production, improved quality of life and saved taxpayer money. It includes one of the most ambitious renewable energy goals in the world. San Diego’s 100 percent renewable goal is for 2035 – 10 years earlier than California’s goal of 2045 set earlier this year.

The City also continues to be a national leader in several categories, including:

• Becoming the largest city in the country to pursue a clean energy community choice program, setting a new standard for the rest of the country.

• Ranking second nationally in overall solar installations behind Los Angeles, according to the Environment California’s 2019 annual report. 

• Linking San Diego’s ambitious climate goals with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to show how our actions fit within a global context. San Diego is one of three cities to join the U.N. in this effort. 

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