Solana Beach residents attend workshop to discuss ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions

By Kristina Houck

When State Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, the law established a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 emission levels by 2020. To help California reach its goal, Solana Beach residents discussed how the community could do its part at a Climate Action Plan Public Workshop held Aug. 6.

A Climate Action Plan would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy in order to meet state requirements. Still in the planning stage, consultants from San Diego-based RECON Environmental, Inc. presented four scenarios for the plan, known as CAP, and welcomed input from the public.

The four scenarios proposed a combination of some or all of the following greenhouse gas reduction measures:

– a commercial benchmark program;

– low-income weatherization program;

– residential and commercial efficiency retrofits;

– residential and commercial photovoltaic solar systems;

– solar water heaters;

– energy efficiency education.

All the options would comply with AB 32, also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act. California’s Air Resources Board, the agency responsible for overseeing the law, has recommended that cities set their target at 15 percent below 2005 levels to help meet the state’s goal.

“It’s a way to establish a baseline and have some targets for where we need to be at the city level, regional level and state level,” said Lisa Lind of RECON.

Using ClearPath, a software for inventories and climate action planning in California, RECON looked at the city and overall community’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and mobile sources, residential energy, commercial energy, water and wastewater, and solid waste.

Although Solana Beach has implemented energy-efficient changes, RECON found that the city’s greenhouse gas emissions increased from 589 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2005 to 616 metric tons in 2012. The greenhouse gas emissions of Solana Beach as a whole went up from 136,322 metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2005 to 166,012 metric tons in 2012.

The cause of the increase is unknown, said Bill Maddux of RECON, but he speculated it could be because of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station going offline.

Still, he praised Solana Beach for upgrading its public streetlights, retrofitting city facilities, implementing green building incentives, banning plastic bags, purchasing an electric fleet vehicle and more.

“The government is actually doing a very good job of meeting the percentage of reductions and getting down to the targets it needs to get to by itself,” Maddux said. “However, the community’s not.”

He noted that the community faces a variety of challenges in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, one of the biggest being Interstate 5, which runs though Solana Beach. The highway’s emissions account for 49 percent of the total citywide emissions, he said.

Nevertheless, Solana Beach needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 114,510 metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

“I realize it’s incumbent on all of us as individual residents to be as environmentally sensitive as we can,” said resident Carol Childs. “Each of us should do whatever it is we can, but it’s almost funny listening to the setup you described — what the state is putting on us — really, unfairly.”

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