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Solana Beach residents encouraged to participate in online survey at Climate Action Plan workshop

Community members gathered Nov. 17 to learn more about the Solana Beach city’s efforts toward crafting a Climate Action Plan during a public workshop at Solana Beach City Hall.

The Climate Action Plan Workshop was held during a special meeting of the Climate Action Commission, an advisory group that was established last November to assist in developing a Climate Action Plan for the city.

“Developing a Climate Action Plan is not easy work,” Deputy Mayor Peter Zahn said at the start of the meeting. He and Councilwoman Lesa Heebner serve on the committee.

“There are a lot of tough choices that need to be made and we all need to live with these choices,” added Zahn, who encouraged the public to provide feedback on the plan.

California Assembly Bill 32, adopted in 2006, compels the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Subsequent California legislation established additional requirements for setting more long-term greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Since then, several cities in San Diego County, including neighboring Del Mar, have adopted Climate Action Plans to identify projected future emissions. The plans also set specific greenhouse gas reduction targets and strategies to achieve those targets.

To assist with developing a Climate Action Plan, Solana Beach’s nine-member Climate Action Commission is helping update the city’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory, set reduction targets, implement mitigation measures and perform periodic monitoring, verification and evaluations.

“Fortunately, our city has done a lot of groundwork, going back to the Clean and Green Committee,” Zahn said. “A lot of good work has been done so far and the commission has been able to build on that.”

About 50 people attended the workshop, where Dr. Jeffrey Severinghaus, Solana Beach resident and professor of geosciences research division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, provided a brief overview of climate change.

“We have a big problem and it’s bad,” he said. “It’s time to do something about it.”

For most of the workshop, Dr. Nilmini Silva-Send, assistant director and adjunct professor at the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at University of San Diego, discussed using mitigation measure modeling to help develop a Climate Action Plan.

According to Silva-Send’s presentation, Solana Beach emits more than 139,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The majority, 63 percent, stems from transportation.

A Climate Action Plan would serve as a comprehensive roadmap, outlining strategies the city could use to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet the state’s directives, she said the city’s plan needs to help reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2020, 40 percent below 2010 levels by 2035, and 50 percent below 2010 levels by 2035.

“This is to be consistent with everyone else,” Silva-Send said.

Various state mandates have been set to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Silva-Send explained, but the city will still need to implement strategies to meet its goals. Some of those strategies, Silva-Send said, might include implementing clean and renewable energy, rooftop solar systems, energy and water efficient buildings, alternative transportation, recycle and divert waste, and tree canopy covers.

“There’s a lot we can do,” she said.

After further discussing these options and asking attendees various interactive questions, Silva-Send showed that Solana Beach would greatly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions if these steps were taken, but there still would be a small gap, approximately 12,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, to meet the state’s 2035 target.

“There’s still a gap to meet those state targets, but it’s not bad,” she said.

To gather further input from the public, the city is currently asking people to participate in an online survey. Responses will help city officials and commissioners identify key opportunities for lowering greenhouse gas emissions in Solana Beach. Survey findings will be summarized in a report that will be available on the city’s website.

To participate in the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/HT3XDQ5