March 10 – SDUT – Joshua Emerson Smith reports – Cities throughout the San Diego region are struggling to rein in tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks — throwing into question whether elected leaders will make good on long-term pledges to dramatically cut greenhouse gases.
That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the local advocacy group Climate Action Campaign. The nonprofit’s fourth annual Climate Action Plan Report Card analyzes efforts by the region’s 18 cities and the county of San Diego to limit climate pollution within their jurisdictions.
While the report praised a number of cities for developing climate plans to ramp up the use of renewable energy, it also found that municipalities across the board were struggling to get people out of their cars and onto sidewalks, bikes and public transit.
Much like California overall, cities will likely fall short of hitting their climate targets without widespread electrification of their transportation sectors, the document found.
“While we are winning some battles, we are losing the war against the climate crisis,” said Maleeka Marsden, lead author of the report. “We must double down on creating walkable and transit rich neighborhoods and electrify everything.”
In many cases, elected officials aren’t even tracking progress on the issue, the report found.
The city of San Diego’s climate plan, for example, calls for roughly 22 percent of commuters in “transit priority areas” — streets within a half-mile of major transit stops — to bike, walk or ride transit to work by 2020. That goal jumps to 50 percent by 2035.
However, the nonprofit says the city has yet to even start tracking the share of these commuters who drive versus using cleaner modes of transportation.
The nonprofit’s report found that the most significant efforts to reduce climate pollution have been focused on creating a government-run electricity program to provide 100 percent clean power by 2035. A so-called community choice aggregation, or CCA, program is now being spearheaded by Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, and the city of San Diego.
Elected officials hope to launch a regional CCA by next year dubbed San Diego Community Power.
The cities of San Diego, Encinitas and La Mesa had the region’s most aggressive plans to fight climate change, according to the report. Solana Beach, Del Mar, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach were trailing in their efforts.
The nonprofit labeled the plans of San Diego County, El Cajon and Santee as “fatally flawed.” Poway has so far resisted calls to create a plan.
Escondido, San Marcos and Vista are updating their climate plans, while Coronado and Lemon Grove are drafting their first such documents.
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