San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Calls for 100% Renewable Energy Power by 2035

San Diego Climate Action Plan

With the goal of creating a cleaner San Diego for future generations, Mayor Faulconer’s Climate Action Plan for the City of San Diego won unanimous approval Tuesday from a bipartisan City Council.

The Climate Action Plan calls for eliminating half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the City and aims for all electricity used in the city to be from renewable energy by 2035.

“Today San Diego took a landmark step toward securing a greener and more prosperous future,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We’ve done something remarkable, bringing business and environmental interests together in a bipartisan manner to support a cleaner community and a stronger economy. We’ve struck the right balance with this plan, and San Diegans can look forward to more clean technology, renewable energy and economic growth.”

The Climate Action Plan is a package of policies that will benefit San Diego’s environment and economy. It will help create new jobs in the renewable energy industry, improve public health and air quality, conserve water, more efficiently use existing resources, increase clean energy production, improve quality of life and save taxpayer money.

The plan also clearly identifies steps the City of San Diego can take to achieve the 2035 targets. That list includes creating a renewable energy program; implementing a zero waste plan; and changing policy to have a majority of the City’s fleet be electric vehicles.

Strategy 1: Energy & Water Efficient Buildings

Both non-residential and residential buildings offer opportunities for emissions reductions in new development as well as existing structures. Generally, building strategies focus on site-specific design and innovation, and technological improvements that increase energy efficiency and provide renewable energy generation. Because both nonresidential and residential property owners, as well as their respective tenants, have different needs and demands, reduction strategies will consist of a mixture of regulatory mandates and incentives to improve building performance.

Strategy 2: Clean & Renewable Energy

Clean, renewable energy is essential to achieving the GHG reduction targets. A combination of on-site generation and large-scale renewables will assist the City in meeting its GHG reduction targets in the most efficient way. The City aims to facilitate installation of renewable energy locally, and suport local job creation as part of this strategy.

Strategy 3: Bicycling, Walking, Transit & Land Use

Transportation strategies cover a broad range of activities that aim to reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMTs), improve mobility, and enhance vehicle fuel efficiency. Specific implementation measures involve changing land uses, adopting a new perspective on community design, promoting alternative modes of travel, revising parking standards, and managing parking.

Strategy 4: Zero Waste (Gas & Waste Management)

There are several different options for managing waste including source reduction, increased recycling, and gas capture.  Methane gas is a by-product from the decomposition of organic material, and it is a GHG that has 20 times the warming impact as carbon dioxide. For this reason, landfills and wastewater treatment plants were among the first facilities required to report emissions under AB 32. As reduction of waste entering the landfill greatly reduces GHG emissions, the goal for the City is to achieve a 75 percent waste diversion rate by 2020. The City also has a goal to strive for Zero Waste disposal by 2040.

Strategy 5: Climate Resiliency

Climate Resiliency can be defined as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change and still retain essentially the same function, structure and feedbacks, and therefore identity. The intent is to develop programs, policies, and processes that are not rigid or static, but rather flexible allowing change to accommodate unexpected events and shocks and continue to function effectively. This document illustrates the path forward by providing next steps and recommendations for areas of further analysis

The Climate Action Plan helps achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets set forth by the state of California. The City’s first Climate Action Plan was approved in 2005 and a commitment to update the plan was included in the City’s 2008 General Plan update.

The Climate Action Plan can be viewed here on the City’s website.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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