The San Diego City Council Tuesday declared a climate emergency in the city, reaffirming a commitment to a rapid transition and mobilization effort to reverse global warming.
The council approved the non-binding declaration on a vote of 7-1. Councilman Scott Sherman cast the dissenting vote, and Councilman Chris Cate was absent.
Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell sponsored the declaration, stating that San Diego has already made progress on climate change, but needs to do more.
“Climate change in San Diego is not a what-if, it’s a what-now,” she said. “Sea levels are already nine inches higher in San Diego in the last 100 years of record. It’s well past time to sound the alarm.”
The resolution has a vague “outreach” action attached, but approving the declaration it is the first step toward getting more meaningful ordinances in front of the full city council. San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento have all declared climate emergencies.
The declaration commits San Diego “to work and partner with residents, businesses and community groups to educate our community about the climate crisis, and to work to catalyze a just transition and a climate emergency mobilization effort at the local, state, national and global levels, to provide maximum protection to our residents.”
Sherman conceded there was an emergency, but said he didn’t support the lack of action on the declaration.
“I don’t vote for non-binding resolutions,” he said. “We should be doing things with tangible, measurable goals.”
A report released earlier Tuesday by the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign gave San Diego a silver award for its climate change efforts, but stated the city had more to do.
“While we are winning some battles, we are losing the war against the climate crisis,” said the report’s lead author, Maleeka Marsden. “The path to a zero-carbon future will not be easy, but we will emerge on the other side with cleaner air, cleaner water, better health and livable neighborhoods.”
Councilman Chris Ward pointed out that as a city on the coast surrounded by desert and an international border, San Diego is uniquely poised to feel the effects of climate change, including increase wildfires, sea levels rising and impact to commerce.
Councilman Mark Kersey approved the declaration, but wanted to focus on transportation.
“There are parts of town, including many of the communities I represent, for which transit is not an option,” he said. “Electric vehicles are a far more realistic way to address (greenhouse gas).”
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