Climate Action

Climate Action Plan Progress

Improved more than 1 percent from
2016 to 2017

How are we doing?

Climate action planning received a thumbs-up rating because the number of cities in San Diego County that adopted, updated or are developing climate action plans (CAPs) grew from 15 jurisdictions to 18 jurisdictions in early 2018, with only one jurisdiction not yet committed to developing a CAP. Climate planning is important to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sectors such as transportation, electricity and natural gas. One climate change impact already affecting the region is sea-level rise, which has increased by 3.7 inches since 1995. See more information.

Climate Action Plan (CAP) Status

(San Diego Jurisdictions, 2017)

CAP in Place
Developing or Updating CAP
No CAP in Place

In 2017, Coronado, Santee and El Cajon began developing climate action plans (CAP) while Chula Vista and Solana Beach updated their CAPs. In early 2018, La Mesa passed a CAP and the County of San Diego adopted its own CAP, although it has faced criticism for primarily relying on achieving GHG reductions through purchasing carbon credits. Currently, eleven jurisdictions have adopted CAPs, seven jurisdictions are updating or developing their CAPs and one jurisdiction has not committed to developing a plan. For a ranking of the best CAPs, visit Climate Action Campaign’s CAP Report Card.

Data Source: Climate Action Campaign Report Card, 2018

Why is it important?

  • A key way to address climate change is through policy and planning. As more cities enact climate action plans, more data will be readily available to track and measure progress compared to past greenhouse gas emission levels and energy-use baselines.
  • Health and economic impacts of climate change can disproportionately affect already vulnerable environmental justice communities with a higher baseline of pollutants.
  • According to a report by NASA's The Earth Observatory, climate change can increase the number and severity of storms and the resulting coastal flooding, increasing threats to San Diego’s coastal bluffs, wetlands and real estate.

The largest contributors to GHG emissions in the San Diego region are on-road transportation (37.2%) and electricity (22.6%). All other sources each contributed to less than 10% of total emissions. Learn more about San Diego's greenhouse gas emissions

Data Source: Energy Policy Initiatives Center & University of San Diego School of Law, 2012 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Projections for the San Diego Region, Appendix D, August 2015

While additional regulations may be necessary to decrease San Diego’s GHG emissions over the next 20-plus years, existing regulations are forecasted to decrease annual emissions by 8.7 million metric tons (MMT), which is equivalent to taking 1,862,955 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

Data Source: Energy Policy Initiatives Center & University of San Diego School of Law, 2012 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Projections for the San Diego Region, Appendix D, 2015

Relative to the 1960 baseline, the sea level in San Diego has increased by 3.7 inches since 1995. Even though dynamic changes in sea level occur from year to year, the overall trend shows a steady increase.

Data Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sea Level Trend 9410170 San Diego, California, 2018

  Idea for Change

Several local governments in the San Diego region have developed Climate Action Plans (CAPs). Now is the time to implement those plans, and keep cities accountable to meeting climate goals. Climate Action Campaign, a local watchdog organization, released the second edition of their annual Climate Action Plan (CAP) Report Card, which is an independent assessment of local governments’ climate planning activities. Municipalities should monitor the metrics outlined in the Report Card, use the recommendations to inform decision-making, and identify best practices from other jurisdictions. This will not only help local governments track internal progress, but ensure cities in San Diego are leading the way to a sustainable future.

  Bright Spot

Aquaponics, a sustainable method of food production, decreases the climate impact of agriculture by requiring 90% less water and land compared to traditional agriculture and reducing the need for pesticides and heavy transportation. ECOLIFE Conservation spearheads a project in which aquaponics are used to teach Helix High School students about climate change, habitat restoration, conservation and how food is sourced. The organization also runs Planting Seeds of Climate Action, where students learn how agriculture affects the climate and how aquaponics can combat this problem.

  What are we measuring?

We measure climate action by tracking the number of cities and jurisdictions in San Diego County that are making progress in adopting and developing climate action plans (CAPs). In addition, we track greenhouse gas emissions estimates and forecasts and changes in local sea level. Learn more about the data.