When I was in elementary school, a report card filled with good grades scored me a comic book. The Climate Action Campaign, San Diego’s environmental group aimed at addressing the climate crisis through effective policy action, assigned Del Mar a frail 62.5% for its Climate Action Plan (CAP) and 65% for implementation.
Since 2016, the Campaign has been grading the CAP of each of San Diego’s 18 cities, in five areas: world-class transit, 100% clean energy, bikeable/walkable neighborhoods, resiliency and all-electric homes. While Del Mar’s grade declined from 73%, in 2016, this year’s winner is Escondido, with an impressive 97.5% (for its all-new legally binding CAP). Specifically, Escondido committed to 100% clean energy by 2030, organic waste diversion, and an ordinance requiring that new commercial developments achieve net-zero energy.
Why is Del Mar so far behind? Along with eight other cities, our CAP is not legally binding, meaning there is no legal accountability from our city officials to meet the goals expressed in our CAP. Secondly, our CAP omits a strong commitment to meeting Zero Carbon by 2045, in accordance with State climate goals. Next, developing a walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible city should be a top priority, per the report. Finally, the development of vacant sites into affordable housing near current infrastructure, jobs, and transit is recommended.
However, our barely passing grades herald a very dire prospect.
“In August 2021, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres deemed as “a code red for humanity.” The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, makes it clear that policymakers worldwide must take swift, decisive action to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Only 100 days after the UN climate summit in Glasgow, COP26, the IPCC released a second assessment warning of the dire effects of climate inaction and failing global leadership, which has now placed nearly half of humankind in very vulnerable climate situations.” Delay causes death,” the UN Secretary-General has said.” (Climate Action Plan Report Card, April 2022, p.6)
On the positive side, Del Mar is working towards 100% clean energy by 2035, through Clean Energy Alliance, which it co-created. Del Mar’s CAP also includes a social equity perspective, along with strategies for tree canopy coverage and nature conservation of its coast and wetlands. Del Mar should gain a few extra points by implementing curbside food waste recycling starting in July 2022, in accordance to SB1383. The comic book for good grades remains elusive.