Five years following the adoption of a Climate Action Plan, the City of San Diego has been ranked sixth in the country for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a national scientific study by The Brookings Institution.
Examining climate action progress in the 100 largest U.S. cities, the “Pledges and Progress” report provides a thorough analysis of climate policy and actions at the city level, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The City of San Diego has long served as a model for other cities when it comes to taking climate action and leaving behind a better planet than we inherited,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “This national ranking shows our city continues to lead the way and is a testament to the collective commitment we made as a community five years ago to significantly cut pollution citywide.”
In order to create the ranking, The Brookings Institution looked closely at the most recent GHG inventory and baseline emissions levels for each city. In San Diego, the comparison was between 2010 and 2017 with a 21% reduction. Using more recent data from 2018, the City of San Diego has recorded a 24% decrease in GHG emissions since 2010.
“San Diego has set some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country and, while we’ve done a lot to move the City toward achieving those goals, we still have a long way to go,” said Chief Sustainability Officer Cody Hooven. “The key to reaching our emissions reduction targets is ensuring that we’re working in partnership with our residents and businesses to create equity, providing for our communities to collectively benefit from climate action.”
Described as a pioneer in the fight against climate change, the City of San Diego adopted its landmark Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2015, calling for the City to cut half of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Earlier this year, the City launched Our Climate, Our Future – an expanded vision for climate action in San Diego. Our Climate, Our Future will be a five-year update to the CAP, incorporating changes in state laws and advances in technology, and including the viewpoints of San Diegans through a public survey.
Despite the work being done in San Diego and other cities, the “Pledges and Progress” report shows less than half of the large U.S. cities have established GHG reduction targets.
Meanwhile, San Diego maintains a concentration of clean technology jobs that is twice as high as the national job concentration. From 2010 to 2018, San Diego marked 17.6% growth in clean technology jobs, with a majority of those in the building industry.
“The cleantech industry was born out of a desire to do things differently, and here in San Diego we are fortunate to have city leaders who value innovation, sustainability, and who are willing to make bold action to support those values for all members of our community,” said Jason Anderson, president and CEO of Cleantech San Diego. “The City of San Diego's pioneering and unwavering commitment to climate action is a shining example of that bold leadership, and we are proud to support their pursuit of environmental change alongside economic and social prosperity.”
Although the report only considered data up until 2017, The Brookings Institution also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest recorded decline in GHG emissions worldwide. The transportation sector is the largest source of GHG emissions in San Diego.
One strategy of the City of San Diego’s CAP calls for reducing vehicle miles traveled and improving mobility options. Earlier this year, Mayor Faulconer announced the Complete Communities initiative, aimed at creating incentives to build more affordable homes near transit and provide more mobility choices. The City Council is expected to consider major components of the Complete Communities initiative next month.