Why do we need this framework?
The global climate is changing, and we directly feel and see the effects of that change locally, in our communities, daily. This includes a higher frequency and intensity of extreme heat events, droughts, wildfires, storms and sea-level rise. Furthermore, a changing climate is causing immediate and long-term damage to our ecosystem, food production, health, safety, jobs, businesses, and our overall quality of life in the San Diego region. We need a coordinated response in our region to climate change.
Why is the County of San Diego leading this effort?
The County’s Board of Supervisors directed staff to develop a framework for a regional zero carbon sustainability plan in partnership with the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy which includes strategies and initiatives to achieve zero carbon emissions in the region. The Board acknowledged the adverse impacts of climate change across the region and recognized the leadership role that the County should take in climate planning.
Who will be preparing this framework?
The County has retained the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego and the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at the University of San Diego School of Law (USD - EPIC). UC San Diego will utilize 6 consultants with technical expertise in energy, transportation and buildings systems to chart the pathways that reduce carbon. To ensure equity is upheld in the Framework and the local government policies that follow, USD - EPIC will compare recommended RDF policies to existing policies and identify gaps that should be addressed so underserved communities are included.
What is “decarbonization”?
Simply put, decarbonization is about reducing the gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. The goal is to achieve a balance of the carbon cycle in nature, so that the planet stops warming.
We would be utilizing a three-pronged strategy: reducing emissions of carbon dioxide to zero; reducing “super-pollutants” such as soot and smog; and carbon storage and capture through natural and technological means. Decarbonization also has a number of co-benefits, such as the investments and employment opportunities created in the carbon-free economy.
How will we know we have reached our goal in reducing carbon?
Our goal is to reduce heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, which is measured by scientists around the globe. USD’s Energy Policy Initiatives Center has computed the regional baseline of these gases in 2016 to be equivalent to 26 million tons of carbon dioxide. We can establish regional benchmarks to track our progress in decreasing this amount over time.
Why would other jurisdictions get involved in the decarbonization framework?
There are several regional sustainability efforts underway, including those by the San Diego Association of Governments. However, this is a unique effort to chart out the pathways in reducing carbon across the region. We anticipate participation by other jurisdictions because this will help us all reach our climate action goals. It will also foster collaboration among various municipalities and position our region to attract state and federal resources.
What are the key sectors that will be studied?
Some of the key sectors considered in this study are energy, transportation and land-use, and buildings and industries.
How is this different from the Climate Action Plan (CAP) the County is updating?
The CAP mitigates greenhouse gas emissions associated with existing and new development governed by the County’s 2011 General Plan. The Regional Decarbonization Framework is not linked to any specific land-use, transportation or energy plan. It will be a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors.
How will businesses be impacted by the framework?
The framework is a vision document being developed in partnership between the public and private sectors. It will identify the pathways to decarbonize the economy and consider the impacts of such pathways on existing businesses and workers. It will also identify new business opportunities in the less-polluting pathways. The adoption of regulations to implement the framework, by any local government would be within their authority.
How can I provide input in the framework?
We welcome your input and have provided several opportunities throughout the different stages of our work. Public input is organized into two phases. During the initial phase, as our consultants are doing the modeling, we will be conducting a public workshop and receive input through our website and email firstname.lastname@example.org. All input will be factored into the final report presented to the Board of Supervisors in 2022.