June 17 – SDUT Editorial Board comments – California has been a global leader in heading off global warming, enacting laws to slash the state’s greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. To do so, local governments must draft formal Climate Action Plans that document how to meet their own mandates.
Some are better than others. Last Friday, for the sixth time in less than 10 years, state courts ruled San Diego County’s plan insufficient. Specifically, the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego rejected its use of “carbon-offset” programs. Under this approach, housing projects that increase vehicle pollution are allowed because developers buy offset credits online from organizations that are allegedly reducing carbon production with land conservation and/or responsible agricultural and logging policies around the world. Groups such as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Climate Action Campaign sued the county, calling the plan inadequate. Now they’ve won again.
The need for more housing locally is obvious. But given the evidence that many carbon-offset programs are either fraudulent or problematic — and the evidence that the county’s plan included no rigorous attempt to ensure the programs it used were even legit — the latest court decision was utterly predictable. Instead of appealing this ruling, county supervisors should heed the message and finally do the hard work of coming up with a plan that won’t be thrown out for not following state laws.
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