Our Power, Our Choice

Encinitas Passes Climate Action Plan "With Teeth"

In a strong showing of unity on the need and determination to “think globally, act locally” on climate change, the Encinitas City Council adopted an updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) at the Council meeting on January 17. The plan was lauded by all Council members as one that will seriously reduce local greenhouse gas emissions and address adaptation strategies. Encinitas became the fifth city in San Diego County to commit to 100% clean electricity, while also transitioning their municipal fleet to zero-emission vehicles, promoting clean and efficient transportation, improving building and water efficiency, moving toward zero waste, and addressing social equity.

Program Administrator Crystal Najera’s presentation to the Council made a deep dive into the many goals and implementation strategies in the plan, with emphasis on the monitoring efforts that will be made to ensure the goals are achieved. Some highlights from her presentation:

  • The baseline inventory of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions is from year 2012, in which 54% of emissions were due to the transportation sector and 23% from electricity.
  • The plan goes out to year 2030 with an overall goal of 41% emissions reduction; the electricity sector would go to 100% clean energy largely due to the planned local Community Choice Energy district.
  • The Community Choice Energy implementation strategy produces the single largest emissions reduction, a factor of more that three times the next largest single strategy.

The Encinitas Climate Action Plan calls for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 13% by year 2020 and 41% by 2030, referred to the baseline inventory from 2012. (Graph from the City of Encinitas, available online here)

Additionally, the CAP explicitly carves out a role in the city’s holistic approach to social equity. In chapter 4, it is stated: “Local actions such as the Community Choice Energy (CCE) program and residential and commercial photovoltaic programs would create and promote jobs for the local workforce. The City will provide climate action related resources and knowledge-sharing opportunities for small-business owners at workshops and outreach events. The City will also consider low-income areas when locating and installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Needs of underserved communities, such as low-income and seniors, would be considered when siting local transit shuttle routes and stops. Active transportation-related actions would be implemented to provide benefits to low-income populations, students, children, and other groups that do not have access to other transportation choices.”

Mayor Catherine Blakespear was the first of the Council to commend Ms. Najera on the quality of the CAP document. She said, “This is a milestone moment for us. Adopting this ambitious Climate Action Plan is a reflection of our environmental commitment. We take our stewardship seriously.” Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca stated, “This is an innovative document. I’m proud we’re doing our local part … to reduce our greenhouse gases and prepare for whatever effects that will be from climate change.” Council Member Tasha Boerner Horvath noted the plans to track and quantify progress, saying “This is a plan with teeth, this is a plan that will get done. Monitoring is great, measurement makes it better. We’re doing that to leave the planet better for tomorrow.”

Council Member Mark Muir complemented Ms. Najera, saying, “ You’ve just set the bar high, we have a gold star performance.” He went on to address skeptics by saying, “To some of those people who question climate change, I tell them, as a fire chief, I’ve always hoped for the best and planned for the worst, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t embrace a plan like this.” Closing out comments before the vote, Council Member Tony Kranz focused on the transportation sector, stating that he wanted to “look at ways that we can engage our residents more directly, call their attention to ways they can impact their carbon footprint.”

The vote for adopting the CAP was unanimous. Subsequent to the meeting, Mayor Blakespear described the plan as “clearly organized and easy to monitor” in her website blog. She went on to say, “It involves the city moving to Community Choice Energy, which is energy that is 100% renewable instead of fossil-fuel based. We'll also substantially reduce our waste stream – there'll be more recycling and composting, and less trash in landfills. …The plan involves more biking and walking infrastructure; more electric cars, including 100% zero emission vehicles for the city fleet; more recycled water; more shuttles to places such as Mira Costa; and a bigger tree canopy.”

News reports about the Encinitas CAP may be found in the Union Tribune and Encinitas Patch.