December 7, 2016

2016 Climate Action Plan Report Card

2016 Climate Action Plan Report Card

Published December 7, 2016

About The Report

Climate Action Campaign has a simple mission: stop the climate crisis. Our purpose is to protect the people and places we love from the ravages of a warming world. We believe change happens from the bottom up. That is why we are focused on working with civic leaders and policymakers at the local level to enact legally binding policies to cut carbon pollution and stop the climate crisis.

Our work in the City of San Diego resulted in the adoption of the City’s groundbreaking 2015 Climate Action Plan, which made San Diego the largest city in the United States with a legal commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2035. We are now working with local governments and agencies throughout San Diego County to help them adopt and implement similar 100% clean energy climate plans and other important climate policies.

This Report Card highlights our Four Fights—key climate policies we encourage every municipality to adopt as part of a comprehensive climate plan: 100% Clean Energy; 50% non-car transit, walking and biking in the urban core; 35% urban tree cover; and Zero Waste.

Why Local Climate Action Matters

Climate change poses a serious risk to our quality of life in San Diego, with effects including rising seas, more frequent coastal storms, and increased risk of drought and wild fires. Public health and safety are at risk from increasing heat waves and worsening air quality. Climate science overwhelmingly demonstrates that previous actions by local, national, and global actors are not enough to solve this problem.

California is a world leader in the fight to reduce the impacts of climate change. Our state will only succeed at meeting its climate goals, however, if local governments take action, making cities and counties essential partners in achieving California’s goals. In order to stop the climate crisis, we need ambitious and legally binding climate policies at the local, state, and national levels.

What is a Climate Action Plan?

Climate Action Plans (CAPs) are the most comprehensive, transparent way for local governments to mitigate climate change—detailing steps municipalities can take to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prepare for impacts from a changing climate. CAPs can also quantify and outline strategies to address the emissions “gap”—the remaining emissions reductions needed to meet local and state emissions targets after accounting for state and federal policies.

Summary of Findings

Climate plans in our region vary widely. Some are national leaders, while others need improvement.

Highlights from this Report:


Only nine (9) out of 19 San Diego region municipalities have adopted a CAP. We have graded seven (7) CAPs in this report. We have not graded the CAPs of Encinitas and Chula Vista, as those cities are in the process of updating their CAPs. Below are statistics on the seven (7) CAPs graded in this report.

 CAP Structural Elements:

  • 6 are legally binding (San Diego, San Marcos, Carlsbad, National City, Vista & Escondido)
  • 4 meet state GHG targets to 2030 (San Diego, San Marcos, Del Mar & Carlsbad)
  • 3 address social equity (San Diego, San Marcos & National City)
  • 2 address jobs (San Diego & National City)
  • 7 assign implementation responsibility to staff/department & have a timeline of strategies
  • 2 call for a public taskforce (San Diego & Del Mar)
  • 5 analyze costs of strategies (Del Mar, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Vista & Escondido)
  • 4 require annual monitoring (San Diego, San Marcos, Carlsbad & Vista)
  • 4 require GHG reporting at least every 3 yrs (San Diego, Carlsbad, National City & Escondido) 

Key CAP Strategies:

  • 2 include 100% clean energy goals & Community Choice Energy (CCE) (San Diego & Del Mar)
  • 3 have energy & water reduction goals and ordinances (San Diego, Del Mar & Carlsbad)
  • 4 have municipal & citywide ZEV policies (San Diego, Del Mar, Carlsbad & National City) 
  • 5 have commuter mode shift goals (San Diego, Del Mar, San Marcos, Carlsbad & Vista)
  • 3 have actionable smart growth strategies (San Diego, San Marcos & Vista)
  • 2 call for Zero Waste (San Diego & Del Mar)
  • 2 have tree canopy goals (San Diego & Del Mar) 

Breakdown of Scores