Climate Action Plan for Sustainable Development

Cody Hooven, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of San Diego
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Cody Hooven, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of San Diego

Cody Hooven, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of San Diego

To achieve the goal of creating a cleaner San Diego for future generations, the City of San Diego calls for eliminating half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 2035. The two biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in San Diego are energy and transportation. These are also sectors where a tremendous amount of market disruption and innovation has been occurring in recent years. The resulting new technologies and business models are allowing cities like ours to achieve several goals at once: creating jobs, supporting growth in technology sectors, and saving family’s money by using resources like water and energy more efficiently.

As our chief sustainability officer, I focus on measures and strategies that will help us achieve San Diego’s sustainability goals. As a representative of San Diego’s economic development team, I focus on how those actions are good for the economy and inclusive of all San Diegans.

In San Diego, we are thinking about thebetter use of resources to not only protect the environment but also to explore climate action that will promote social equity and create jobs in the city. We are focused on creating opportunities for everybody that is beneficial not only from the environmental sustainability standpoint but is also advantageous for economic development. We cannot sacrifice environmental benefits for economic development and we do not believe that we need to choose one over the other. San Diego has set an example for green city initiatives all over the world, with a legally binding climate action plan.

In 2015, the City Council approved San Diego’s Climate Action Plan as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to implement policies and practices that support a more sustainable future. The Climate Action Plan will help create new jobs in the renewable energy industry, improve public health and air quality, conserve water, increase clean energy production, improve quality of life and save taxpayers money.

 We are leading on innovation and sustainability by embracing both protection of our environment and growing our economy. 

One of the most exciting goals we’ve set is in energy. We have established a goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy citywide by 2035. Currently, we are analyzing strategies and opportunities that can help us become a 100 percent renewable city.

We are looking at two different pathways to increase the use of renewable energy to reach 100 percent citywide. One is through Community Choice Aggregation (CCA)—a program that permits cities, counties and other authorized entities to purchase and generate power for residents and businesses located within their jurisdictional boundaries. This allows the city control the quality of power that is delivered (e.g., how much is renewable) and other opportunities such as incentivizing smart technology for energy savings, electric vehicles, etc. Besides CCA, we are exploring other pathways as well,that can help us achieve the goal and provide similar benefits of supporting a smart energy market transformation. More and more cities are setting renewable energy targets and there is a lot of national and international attention about it. We believe that it is one thing to have that goal but it is another to create a pathway and strategy for how to reach it.

We believe that the private sector is a critical partner in achieving our climate goals. Our relationship with businesses in sectors such as biotechnology and clean technology is really important to us. The Cleantech industry cluster in San Diego is comprised of a number of industries that are engaged in the development, manufacturing, distribution, and installation of products producing renewable energy, clean energy,biofuels, or other products that reduce pollution and natural resource depletion worldwide. The successful collaboration between government and industry on Cleantech initiatives has spurred growth in this industry cluster.

San Diego is also creating a process for making the city’s data available online using open data standards. This is also a new approach to business from a government perspective. San Diego recognizes that making data transparent and available online will promote civic engagement, improve service delivery, and allow for more effective communication with the public. Recently, San Diego co-hosted a hackathon as part of San Diego startup week to explore how applications can use real-time data from 3,400 smart streetlight sensors throughout the City of San Diego will help solve problems with traffic, parking, public safety, urban planning, and environmental challenges.

We also recognize that technology is advancing and market disruption is happening so quickly that we have to be nimble enough to embrace these as opportunities to help achieve our goals. Embracing the future of technology and innovation, like autonomous vehicles, will allow us to better reach our sustainability goals. And while technology is important in attaining our goals, the purpose of our efforts should always be to make our city a better play for San Diegans to live, work, and play.

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