With the Paris talks now over, many around the country are eagerly waiting to see how the country will fulfill its emission reduction targets. While this has captured the public’s attention, across the US, city and local officials have been quietly leading the way—pushing ambitious climate action plans that will bring about green jobs, empower communities, and wean cities completely off of fossil fuels.
So how are they doing it? While the path towards 100% may seem most likely in smaller cities, San Diego is the latest to make the commitment. As the second largest city in California, and eighth in the nation, if San Diego can do it, any city can. To accomplish their goals, the city council recently voted on an ordnance that will set the wheels of climate action in motion—and these are steps that San Diego, and any city other can take:
- Commit to a goal: Leaders in the city emphasize the importance of implementing a framework from which to build upon. While plans change, having a scaffolding in place gives officials a plan to build off of and adapt to.
- Develop realistic, ambitious steps: The city has committed to cutting emissions in half by 2035, and to fully renewable in 20 years. Set the goals high, but make sure they are achievable in obtainable steps.
- Transfer control of power: By transferring some control of the energy supply from the utility to the city, municipal leaders have a greater say over where the energy comes from, and which sources are responsible for the generation.
- Change the fleet: San Diego will transition half of its fleet to all-electric vehicles, getting away from costly and dirty old vehicles.
- Manage and mitigate resource use: City officials will invest in technologies to recycle, capture and mitigate waste.
Perhaps the most important step is communicating with residents and the community the benefits of climate solutions. San Diego leaders have been working with businesses to stress how the transition will bring about clean, stable, high paying jobs that the plan will bring. The plan has bipartisan support, and is framed as beneficial to all of those living in or near the city. Implementing these steps puts cities on the path to climate solutions. Find out more by visiting Path to Positive Communities.
Last weekend, representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark accord in Paris to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday, local leaders in San Diego committed to making a city-size dent in the problem.
With a unanimous City Council vote, San Diego, the country’s eighth-largest city, became the largest American municipality to transition to using 100 percent renewable energy, including wind and solar power. In the wake of the Paris accord, environmental groups hailed the move as both substantive and symbolic.
Other big cities, including New York and San Francisco, have said they intend to use more renewable energy, but San Diego is the first of them to make the pledge legally binding. Under the ordinance, it has committed to completing its transition and cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.
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