A view of the San Diego skyline from Centennial Park in Coronado back in May 2020. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The San Diego City Council passed Tuesday a new version of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which commits the city to reaching “net zero” carbon emissions by 2035. What’s net zero? Voice of San Diego reporter MacKenzie Elmer broke that down earlier this year, but basically it means the city will produce the amount of emissions that can be sequestered, either by the natural environment or to-be-developed technological means.

The city’s new plan is a meaningfully grander commitment than its last one, nearly doubling the greenhouse gas reductions it commits the city to making by 2035. 

Among the most significant of the new actions: The plan says the city must eliminate 90 percent of natural gas usage from all existing buildings in the city.

Doing that alone is how the city plans to get nearly half of all the emission reductions in the plan. Alternatively, that means failing to eliminate natural gas usage from nearly all buildings in the city would wipe out a substantial chunk of the carbon emissions they’re counting on by 2035.

As Elmer outlined last year, labor unions have had concerns about the city’s push to electrify nearly all buildings, and it’s not yet clear how the city will ensure such a dramatic shift within private properties.

City staffers said at the meeting that by February, they’d come back to the Council with another plan to implement all the goals and policies in this plan. That’s a nod to the extent to which the city has largely ignored significant chunks of the last plan, while implementing other major components, such as the creation of San Diego Community Power, a public energy provider that the city created after committing to do so in the first plan.

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

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  1. The city should stay out of this. The fact that they want “natural” gas out, and replaced with something more expensive and not natural. The city proves they cant even do basic business deals or buy a hotel without shadiness or corruption. Dont force these political agengas, just cost taxpayers more. Fix streets, fix homelessness, bolster public safety! Those are needed today!

  2. Most folks agree that it is good to use fossil fuels less. However, in the case of natural gas, we cannot go to zero. At least not yet. Oil and gas wells, cattle ranches and dumps, human flatulence, all generate amounts of methane, the primary constituent of natural gas. Methane is a much worse green house gas than CO2. It needs to be burnt to turn it into CO2. If we are to dispose of methane we ought to get some ‘work’ out of it since we are generating heat and CO2 by burning it. We will need to keep using some of it as a fuel for a long time, just to clean up the mess we’ve already made.

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