San Diego releases plan to address climate change

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SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego’s long-awaited plan to address climate change became available Friday, and it offers five broad strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Among other things, the plan created by city staff over the past couple of years includes a goal of reducing San Diego’s emissions recorded in 2010 by 20 percent in 2020 and half in 2035.

The strategic focus areas are:

— energy and water efficient buildings, with the city providing a mix of regulatory mandates and incentives;

— clean and renewable energy, with the city facilitating the installation of local renewable energy projects;

— bicycling, walking and transit, in which land use decisions can promote alternative means of travel;

— reducing waste, promoting recycling and capturing landfill gases; and

— climate resiliency, to create programs and policies that will help city officials respond to potential impacts.

The plan is scheduled to be considered by the City Council’s Environment Committee at a Nov. 30 special meeting.

“I was proud to dedicate significant effort when I was mayor to developing the climate action plan, and I’m anxious for the City Council’s consideration of it,” said Councilman Todd Gloria, a committee member who filled in as mayor after Bob Filner resigned in 2013.

“San Diego has the opportunity to implement an aggressive plan that safeguards and preserves our environment through greater energy efficiency and water supply independence, and other measurable means,” Gloria said.

The document incorporates more specific goals — some of which were adopted separately by the City Council — like generating 100 percent renewable electricity citywide by 2035, reducing energy consumption at municipal facilities by 15 percent by 2020 and an additional 25 percent by 2035, and diverting 75 percent of solid waste by 2020 and 90 percent by 2035.

Of the numerous ways cited in the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest projected short-term bang would take place at the Miramar Landfill, with the recycling of waste products and capturing of gases, to the tune of 154,467 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2020 and 344,213 by 2035.

The report also suggests that optimizing the use of mass transit would also have a major impact, lowering carbon output by 119,234 metric tons by 2020 and by 213,573 metric tons by 2035.

Longer term, a method of procuring energy from alternative sources called “Community Choice Aggregation” could reduce emissions by 531,254 metric tons in 2030 and almost 1.6 million metric tons five years later.

Actions called for in the climate plan would require the City Council to approve separate implementation ordinances in the future. Before such votes are taken, the city would conduct a cost-benefit analysis of each proposed action.

The plan’s provisions, some of which would go before the council as early as next year, might also need to be modified over time as circumstances warrant, according to the document.


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