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City keeps residents clued in on emissions plan

ENCINITAS — A few dozen residents joined city staff and consultants to discuss the city’s draft climate action plan on Jan. 13.
The lengthy document delves into the impacts of climate change and the role that cities play in “transition to a low-carbon economy.” The document will be reviewed in conjunction with the general plan update according to city officials but is not on the same approval timeline.
“We intend for this to be a living document,” Diane Langager, a principal planner with the city, said. “The document will be in a state of constant refinement.”
Public workshops were held in September and November of 2009 with various stakeholder groups to gather input on the plan that will ultimately guide the city through the maze of options that lower emissions.
Federal funds from energy efficiency grants have funded the study in part. Langager said that public input was crucial to the success of the plan. In fact, residents are encouraged to submit comments until the Feb. 10 deadline.
Consultants from Irvine-based CTG Energetics, Inc. gave a presentation outlining the plan, known as CAP. Heather Rosenberg, a principal at the company, gave a brief history of the reason for developing a plan to reduce emissions.
The nebulous state law AB 32, the global warming solutions act, passed in 2006 and calls for a reduction in emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Transportation, housing, agriculture, building, land use and many other issues are included within one regulatory framework Rosenberg said.
“The law recommends that municipalities reduce emissions by 15 percent,” she told the audience. However, the law gives little guidance on how to proceed with such reductions nor does it contain an enforcement mechanism.
The consultants chose emissions from 2005 as the base year. Most of the emissions came from transportation — a not-so surprising 70 percent as compared to the second highest sector of emissions, residential, which came in at 15 percent.
Furthermore, traffic emissions from Interstate 5 accounted for 59 percent of the 70 percent in transportation emissions.
A projection showed that if no reduction policies are implemented, then an 18 percent growth in emissions
each year was calculated, according to consultant Kristen Lence.
However, if the draft CAP is adopted then emissions will be 12 percent below the 2005 baseline. “This is just an initial look at what could be feasible,” Lence said.
Almost 70 percent of reduction in emissions will come from state and federal mandates such as improved fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.
“Reduction strategies will continue to be reviewed, approved then implemented,” Langager said.
“A lot of the work is going to be education and getting out to the public,” Langager said. The next step is to go to council in the spring of this year to present the plan.
The city’s environmental advisory commission chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor said the plan could go further in setting standards to limit emissions. “My overall comments on the CAP are that I would like to see more aggressive target dates and mandatory rather than voluntary actions when it comes to things like green building and other actions the city has control over,” she said in an e-mail after attending the meeting.
The draft plan does not contain consequences for nonconformity, but rather it incentivizes emission reduction measures. No enforcement mechanism exists except exposure to lawsuits, as has been the history with projects that do not conform to AB 32, Rosenberg said.
To view the draft climate action plan, visit the city’s website.
To submit comments, e-mail planner Michael Strong (, Langager ( or Scott Vurbeff (