By Peter Sloan, Campaign Coordinator
Climate policy is complex, affecting every area of society. After all, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said for years that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
That’s what SanDiego350’s policy teams work on. Volunteer activists are moving climate justice forward in several key areas, at the local and state level. As we head into the winter holiday season, here are some highlights of where the policy teams made the most progress in 2022.
Climate Action Plans (CAP)
The City of San Diego updated its Climate Action Plan (CAP) in August, after years of campaigning by SanDiego350 and other climate groups, and the resulting document sets ambitious goals to decarbonize the City’s energy, transportation, land use, and other systems. Dozens of SD350 members provided input on the CAP, spoke at City Council meetings, met with councilmembers and staff, and attended public workshops. The CAP and Youth4Climate teams helped organize and spoke at a coalition press conference around the CAP’s final adoption by the City Council.
Disappointingly, the previous version of the City’s CAP, from 2014, went 90% unimplemented. SanDiego350 and our allies are campaigning for a robust implementation plan, which the City has said it will provide by February, including adequate funding and accountability mechanisms, to ensure this CAP fulfills its promise.
Further, SanDiego350 has been actively involved with envisioning a new Climate Advisory Board to the City Council, a body of technical experts who can advise the Council on all areas of CAP implementation.
And Coronado also adopted its first CAP this year. SD350 members provided feedback and commentary at their City Council meetings, and will continue advocating for implementation, accountability, and funding. SanDiego350 is also engaging with County’s CAP drafting process.
The Transportation Team has focused on microtransit, which refers to publicly-owned and operated, neighborhood-scale shared rides in small vans, connecting riders to transit stops, grocery stores and other necessities. Microtransit complements traditional transit by connecting riders who live more than half a mile away from a bus or trolley stop, and it can significantly reduce vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental injustice outcomes.
The Team hosted a Climate Chat on the topic in October, produced a research paper (with executive summary), and held meetings with elected officials and transportation planners. Microtransit is on the agenda for an upcoming MTS board meeting, following conversations with Transportation Team members and board members. And in Escondido, City staff are developing plans to implement microtransit.
As a founding member of the San Diego Building Electrification Coalition, SanDiego350 has been advocating for electrification ordinances for new construction in city councils throughout San Diego County.
Last year, Encinitas and Solana Beach both adopted all-electric building codes for new construction and major remodels after advocacy by the coalition. The team held a press conference to celebrate Encinitas, the first city in San Diego county to adopt such a building code and the 50th city in the state to do so.
Following San Diego’s update to its CAP, the coalition has been meeting with City staff and Councilmembers, keeping the pressure on to achieve the CAP’s goals.
SDBEC also campaigns for the decarbonization of existing buildings, against the blending of hydrogen with natural gas, and in support of induction cooking.
Food and Soil
The Food and Soil Team comprises three working groups: Plant-based Eating, Zero Waste, and Carbon Farming.
The Plant-based Eating Working Group participates in the San Diego Food Systems Alliance’s Good Food Purchasing Program Coalition, which met with County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, seeking the adoption of the Good Food Purchasing Program which includes the purchasing of more plant-based and local foods. The County did not sign up for the Good Food Purchasing Program, but they did commit to adopt more of these purchasing strategies into their food procurement for County employees.
The Food Waste Working Group collaborated with a coalition of local nonprofits and other stakeholders to advocate for the amendment of the so-called “People’s Ordinance.” The coalition sent a letter to the City Council and provided public comment at Committee hearings. The initiative was successfully included on the November 2022 ballot as Measure B. The Working Group also canvassed and distributed yard signs in support of the Measure.
And in August, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a measure for its CAP team to work with regional partners to develop a pilot carbon farming program to incentivize the use of climate-friendly practices in local agriculture, as advocated for by the Carbon Farming Working Group in a proposal submitted in 2021.
The Renewable Energy Team is campaigning to increase consumer participation in San Diego Community Power’s “Power 100” program, which offers customers 100% renewable energy for a comparable price. The Renewable Energy Team had previously campaigned for the creation of San Diego Community Power, a “community-choice aggregation” (CCA) program, as an alternative to SDG&E.
The team is also campaigning for city councils in the region to automatically opt their residents into the Power-100 program, as Encinitas has done. Additionally, the team provided input on priority programs and communities for the new SDCP Community Power Plan currently under development, and sent petition signatures to Governor Newsom in opposition to the new net metering program proposed by the CPUC because it would undermine the incentives for homeowners to invest in rooftop solar.
For a recap of how SanDiego350’s priority bills fared in the California State Legislature this year, see our blog post by our intern, Augusta Lewis. The biggest highlight is the passage and signing into law of SB 1137, which creates a minimum health and safety distance of 3,200 feet between sensitive receptors, such as residences, schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, hospitals, or nursing homes, and new or reworked oil and gas wells. This is something SanDiego350 has long campaigned for. Already the fossil fuel industry is petitioning to repeal this law on the 2024 ballot, and SanDiego350 is preparing to respond.
Other legislative successes include the passage of SB 1203, which sets a goal of net-zero emissions from California government agencies by 2035, SB 1314, which bans a dangerous oil extraction practice, and AB 1857, which strengthens waste-reduction standards in the state.
Regional Decarbonization Framework
In San Diego County, SanDiego350 members sit on all of the advisory working groups for the Regional Decarbonization Framework (RDF), for which the County is in the process of drafting an implementation plan. SanDiego350 is engaging fully in the process, seeking a strong implementation plan with funding and accountability. The RDF is a sweeping framework that, if implemented, will achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
Of course, one of SanDiego350’s biggest accomplishments is supporting a community of hundreds of climate activists and thousands of supporters, for over 10 years and counting. Fill out a Volunteer Interest Form today to get involved with one of our 15 volunteer-led teams, and help us organize for more policy wins in 2023!