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More trees to hug in San Diego's future

Climate action plan approved by council committee

After more than a year of prodding from activists and planning by officials, a climate action plan for San Diego introduced by city councilmember Todd Gloria during his stint as interim mayor is moving toward adoption.

On Monday afternoon (November 30), a unanimous vote from the council's environmental committee in favor of the plan elevated the proposal to its final hurdle — a vote before the full council.

The goal of the plan is to reduce waste in the city to near-zero levels and have the city fully powered by renewable resources by 2035.

"The issue of climate change is something that is really impacting communities throughout the country and the entire world," said environmental committee chair David Alvarez at a press conference before the meeting.

"The plan lays out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by strategically focusing on five key areas," Alvarez continued, listing energy- and water-efficient buildings, clean and renewable energy, the use of cycling, walking, and mass transit, moving toward zero waste, and climate resiliency, which includes planting more shade trees to eliminate the "heat island" effect of roads and buildings.

Gloria noted that after several delays, the vote coincided with global talks on climate change currently underway in Paris.

"While world leaders get together to think globally, here in San Diego we're collectively taking action locally," said Gloria. "This plan demonstrates that San Diego is a progressive leader in addressing climate change — that we value our people and our environment enough to commit to aggressive, measurable outcomes. The plan will be the cornerstone of our city's environmental health strategy."

Nicole Capretz of Climate Action Campaign, one of several environmental activist groups petitioning in favor of the plan, said Las Vegas, San Jose, and San Fransisco have similar goals. Smaller locales such as Aspen, Colorado, have already met targets similar to San Diego's plan.

"The question, then, isn't whether we're being too ambitious, but whether we aren't being ambitious enough," Capretz said. "We're right in line with where everybody is moving, and we're remaining a leader in that space."

Capretz urged the city to develop a budget for achieving the targets outlined in the plan.

"Approving the plan is only the first step," Alvarez said. "Next, we need to produce an implementation plan that actually funds the actions required in this document in order to meet our targets."

Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition spoke about the need to direct action at historically neglected neighborhoods in poor, heavily polluted areas.

"Equity is something we really need to be talking about. Because as far behind as the city of San Diego is [in taking action on climate change], low-income communities and those of color, those that are the most impacted by climate change, are even further behind," Takvorian said. "For these communities, inaction is not just inconvenient, it's life-threatening."

The city council as is set to review and vote on the plan at its December 15 meeting.

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After more than a year of prodding from activists and planning by officials, a climate action plan for San Diego introduced by city councilmember Todd Gloria during his stint as interim mayor is moving toward adoption.

On Monday afternoon (November 30), a unanimous vote from the council's environmental committee in favor of the plan elevated the proposal to its final hurdle — a vote before the full council.

The goal of the plan is to reduce waste in the city to near-zero levels and have the city fully powered by renewable resources by 2035.

"The issue of climate change is something that is really impacting communities throughout the country and the entire world," said environmental committee chair David Alvarez at a press conference before the meeting.

"The plan lays out a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by strategically focusing on five key areas," Alvarez continued, listing energy- and water-efficient buildings, clean and renewable energy, the use of cycling, walking, and mass transit, moving toward zero waste, and climate resiliency, which includes planting more shade trees to eliminate the "heat island" effect of roads and buildings.

Gloria noted that after several delays, the vote coincided with global talks on climate change currently underway in Paris.

"While world leaders get together to think globally, here in San Diego we're collectively taking action locally," said Gloria. "This plan demonstrates that San Diego is a progressive leader in addressing climate change — that we value our people and our environment enough to commit to aggressive, measurable outcomes. The plan will be the cornerstone of our city's environmental health strategy."

Nicole Capretz of Climate Action Campaign, one of several environmental activist groups petitioning in favor of the plan, said Las Vegas, San Jose, and San Fransisco have similar goals. Smaller locales such as Aspen, Colorado, have already met targets similar to San Diego's plan.

"The question, then, isn't whether we're being too ambitious, but whether we aren't being ambitious enough," Capretz said. "We're right in line with where everybody is moving, and we're remaining a leader in that space."

Capretz urged the city to develop a budget for achieving the targets outlined in the plan.

"Approving the plan is only the first step," Alvarez said. "Next, we need to produce an implementation plan that actually funds the actions required in this document in order to meet our targets."

Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coalition spoke about the need to direct action at historically neglected neighborhoods in poor, heavily polluted areas.

"Equity is something we really need to be talking about. Because as far behind as the city of San Diego is [in taking action on climate change], low-income communities and those of color, those that are the most impacted by climate change, are even further behind," Takvorian said. "For these communities, inaction is not just inconvenient, it's life-threatening."

The city council as is set to review and vote on the plan at its December 15 meeting.

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