Giving 100%

San Diego to go 100% renewable by 2035

Pencil in San Diego as the latest American city to adopt legislature that actively fights climate change and advocates renewable energy.

As events such as the devastating wildfire in northern Alberta this past week force authorities and cabinets alike to deal with the effects of warmer temperatures in a more immediate fashion, San Diego’s commitment is indicative of a trend gaining steam.

The city signed an official memorandum May 2; a legally-binding Climate Action Plan intended to ensure it will be using 100% renewable energy by 2035. San Diego joins San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, and Santa Barbara as major Californian cities investing in full renewable efforts. San Francisco is under a similar contract to get to 100% by 2020; while San Jose has one shooting for 2022.

Other U.S. cities of note that currently run on 100% renewable energy include Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; Greensburg, Kansas; Ithaca, New York; as well as Vancouver, BC, Canada. The country of Costa Rica reported that it ran on 99% renewable energy in 2015. As Treehugger.com’s Meagan Tracey notes, “Costa Rica is lucky to have a wealth of renewable energy sources to choose from. The bulk of its power generation comes from hydropower thanks to a large river system and heavy tropical rainfalls. The rest is made up of a mix of geothermal energy, which the country is also rich in, wind, biomass and solar power.”

San Diego’s agreement includes a stipulation of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. Achieving this goal and the overarching 100% mark in the desired time will require contributions from both solar and wind power, as well as a number of specific alterations. But recent numbers assist a convincing argument.

San Diego solar installations have grown nearly 76% in the last two years alone, led by Sunline Energy Solar and Electric Systems and Windsun Energy Systems. Wind energy has also expanded and is a point of emphasis for the future. Perhaps most impressively, the city is planning further proliferation of its urban tree canopy coverage to 35% and the promotion of alternative transportation systems to lessen carbon emission.

In addition to focusing on solar, wind, and tree canopy expansion, San Diego will also look to updating its transportation strategies. While this certainly covers an array of variables, the city will pinpoint its efforts on reducing vehicle miles traveled, improvements in mobility, and upgrading fuel efficiency in vehicles. To do this, it plans on urging its citizens to pursue alternative modes of transportation while also concentrating on revising and managing its parking standards.

Election-year tangents are mentioned next without a smirk. It was a Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, who presided over the decision by working with a predominantly Democratic city council—a bipartisan agreement aimed at addressing a sensitive political issue.

The prospect of achieving this lofty goal could bring even more merit to “America’s Finest City”.

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