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.

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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.

    This article relates to: Climate Action Plan, Environmental Regulation, Kevin Faulconer, News, Pollution in Public Places, Science/Environment, Share

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at or 619.325.0529.

    Joan Raphael
    Joan Raphael subscriber

    Our usage of water in San Diego has dropped dramatically in the last couple of decades. We are using less water than back then, even with a large increase in population. As I recall, naysayers said that wasn't possible and screamed about the cost to business and individuals. Maybe naysayers are wrong this time too! Instead of shooting down the idea, how about exploring it and seeing what can be improved on the original plan over time. We have to bring down greenhouse emissions for a couple of reasons: we are required to do so in this plan by state law and we need to do our best to leave our descendants a decent planet to live on after we played a large part in destroying it. The extreme weather we've seen lately in this country and around the world are to a large degree the result of climate change which comes from increased carbon pollution. Besides if we do this, our city will be much more attractive to visitors and tourists because it also, as a byproduct, will be even more beautiful.

    Angela Deegan
    Angela Deegan subscriber

    Thanks Andrew for reporting on this important plan.  I hope the council and the new Mayor keep this plan strong on it's greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.  The younger generation and future generations are depending on the people currently in power to do the right thing in stabilizing the climate.

    James Weber
    James Weber subscriber

    @Angela Deegan  San Diego's efforts will be like the child trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, but many progressives will feel good about themselves.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    “...100 percent renewable energy by 2035....”.  Let’s see, that’s 21 years away.  I won’t be around to see it, but this is not going to happen.  Remember, e.g., we are in the process of dismantling our only reliable 24/7 clean energy source, the nuclear plant at San Onofre.  Even if they began today, design, permitting and construction of a replacement would likely take more than 21 years.  Plus, technically, nuclear is clean but it's not "renewable", so doesn't meet the enviro-whacko standard.  

    Someone was smoking funny cigarettes, sans tobacco I'm sure, while drafting that goal, and the only thing that could make it conceivably come true is a huge breakthrough in energy storage.  The only problem is that scientists have been trying to solve this one for over a hundred years.  There’s been some improvement, but the very limited mileage of current electric cars is testimony to how little progress has actually been made.

    “The sun don’t shine at night and the wind often don’t blow”.  Duh.  We’ll see if this provision survives the new mayor and city council.  If it does, we’ll know we have a bunch of politicians divorced from reality.

    jeff scott
    jeff scott subscriber

    Nice chart, in another 15 years the whole global warming theory will have blown apart, and the tipping point theory will have crumbled a long time before then. There is no stopping radical environmental  activist-extremists-turned-politician  these days....

    jeff scott
    jeff scott subscriber

    @Jim Jones  

    Not sure what your point is.  The G.W. issue cannot be compared to that. 

     A full generation has been indoctrinated to believe something that is still being debated, discussed, and as of late, hasnt panned out exactly the way they confidently predicted it 20 years ago.  World governments are passing massive regs ,  people are paying a big price and making sacrifices all the while the media picked a side decades ago and simply refuses to report AGW without a strong bias,  keeping the public further in the dark about what is happening. 

     I will not adopt a " its just another silly movement that will eventually pass" attitude. Its much much bigger than that.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    "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."

    Amateurs buying power on the open market. ROFLMAO.

    The Market is going to eat these people alive.

    Andrew, Please start asking these folks how much all of these initiatives are going to cost the city and residences.

    Andrew Keatts
    Andrew Keatts author

    @Mark Giffin  There's a feasibility study for CCA that's currently ongoing. It should give some indication of the program's potential costs or savings. The retrofit mandate hasn't been written yet.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    @Andrew Keatts @Mark Giffin 

    Thank you Andrew. I certainly hope there are other independent experts that weigh in on this.

    The suggestion by Ms. Capretz that the city should be involved in the purchasing of our energy is quite frankly asinine imho.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    "but the city would go out and purchase it, in whatever mix of sources it wants, on the open market."

    amateurs buying energy. The Market will eat these "progressives" for lunch.

    Notice Capretz nor Gloria comment on costs of any of this stuff to the city or its residences.

    This will blow up in our faces but Capretz and Gloria will of already bailed with their Golden Parachutes

    jeff scott
    jeff scott subscriber

    Ah yes, the democrats helping to protect the poor and middle class-wealth as usual

    ""...a mandate for homeowners and commercial property owners to retrofit buildings to improve water and energy efficiency.""

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Instead of creating new regulations to combat climate change, governments should fix the negative externalities (a type of market failure) and then step out of the way.