Interim mayor Todd Gloria’s climate action plan is an ambitious document that could change the way we commute, the types of energy we use and the efficiency of our buildings.

Kevin Faulconer’s ascendancy as mayor and a lengthy upcoming review process could both force changes to the plan over the coming months.

But Gloria will still be Council president and wants the plan to stay a priority. Faulconer ran as a pro-environment moderate. That means the plan’s likely to change, but unlikely to go away.

Last week we looked at one piece of the plan that’s already getting some push-back, a mandate for homeowners and commercial property owners to retrofit buildings to improve water and energy efficiency.

But here are a few numbers that put the whole proposal in context. (CityBeat also put together a nice comprehensive look at the plan earlier this week).


The number of local governments in California that have adopted their own climate action plan in recent years.

San Diego’s would be perhaps the most ambitious of any of those plans, said Nicole Capretz, the plan’s primary author.

It would be a means of implementing the vision laid out in the city’s 2008-adopted general plan, a broad outline for the city’s future growth. Where that plan says the city should be developing in tight clusters so people can cut down on their daily car trips, the climate plan would document whether that’s happening. It would also hold the city responsible for meeting a series of state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction targets.


This is the amount of greenhouse gases, in metric tons, the city would produce in 2035, if the plan is implemented and proves successful.

That would be a 49 percent reduction from 2010, the plan’s baseline for comparisons. The plan hopes to cut the city’s emissions to 11.1 metric tons by 2020, a 15 percent reduction.

But it’s hard to imagine 6.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases meaning much of anything on its own.

Here’s a chart from the plan that puts its target cuts in perspective. The straight line is the 2010 baseline. The upward sloping line is the “business as usual” scenario, and the downward sloping one is what’s envisioned if the plan is fully realized.


41 percent

This is the amount of emissions cuts, by 2035, that would come just from state and federal regulations.

The reductions anticipated by 2020 are even more reliant on state and federal actions, with 66 percent of the overall reduction coming from non-local policies.

The remaining 59 percent of the plan’s GHG reductions by 2035 come down to local changes. Natural gas and electricity changes produce 33 percent of the cuts, transportation initiatives create 22 percent, and 4 percent come from waste management policies.


100 percent

This would be San Diego’s share of renewable energy in 2035.

More than 20 percent of the energy San Diego Gas & Electric delivers to consumers comes from solar power, as of 2012. The utility company is on track to reach the state-mandated 33 percent threshold by 2020.

But reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 requires going through “community choice aggregation,” said Capretz. That process would mean SDG&E would still deliver our energy, but the city would go out and purchase it, in whatever mix of sources it wants, on the open market.

The first step in that process is to conduct a feasibility study that would look at what could reasonably be achieved through community choice aggregation.

The city’s 2015 budget funds that study. That means the Council will have some hard facts on hand when the climate action plan comes before it eight-or-so months from now.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.