San Diego is not waiting for Washington to get its act together on climate change. The southern California city is moving forward with an ambitious plan to run on 100% renewable energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035 – and it’s doing so in a bipartisan manner. Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer endorsed the Climate Action Plan that was unanimously approved by the Democrat-dominated city council in December.
Renewables, including solar and wind, would be increased to achieve the target. San Diego already places second in the nation for solar power with solar installations growing 76.6 percent in two years to 189 megawatts of installed photovoltaic capacity at the end of 2015.
The plan also includes an initiative to increase the urban tree canopy to 35 percent by 2035 – perhaps even more important than the clean energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets because trees sequester carbon. More climate scientists are recognizing the importance of restoring ecosystems to draw down atmospheric carbon in order to reverse global warming and protect biodiversity. Restoring water cycles, soil, grasslands, wetlands and forests could remove gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere, returning the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels of safety and stability, according to Biodiversity for a Livable Climate.