San Antonio’s proposed climate plan has some bold goals to reach by 2050.
San Antonio Climate Ready, released Jan. 25, is an initiative that falls in line with the city’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, which the City Council signed onto in 2017.
The plan includes stopping the use of coal power plants in San Antonio, reducing energy consumption by buildings and increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road.
The city’s Chief Sustainability Officer Doug Melnick says the plan is designed to ensure it’s on the right track to curb emissions as the city adds new residents.
“We acknowledge that we’re not going to do all of them right out of the gate, he said. “I think we need to be really pragmatic going forward. I think the big things are continuing to work with CPS to clean our energy supply.”
The city is expected to add nearly a million residents by 2040. The plan hopes to end use of CPS Energy’s coal-fired plants within 30 years and decarbonize the electric grid. At the end of last year, CPS Energy decommissioned the J.T. Deely coal power plant.
The plan is designed to work with multiple sectors that produce greenhouse gasses, including transportation and waste treatment.
“What this plan does is it puts a very specific metric on it — our greenhouse gas emissions — and every two years the plan is adopted we’ll update that inventory so we’ll very clearly know which policies and programs are working and which sectors are we doing better than others,” he said.
It calls for a 50 percent reduction of commercial waste in landfills by 2035, and 25 percent cut in residential landfill waste by 2030 — and a 90 percent reduction by 2050.
The climate plan warns that without actions, San Antonio could see between 55 and 100 days per year above 100 degrees by the end of the century.
“San Antonio’s total community emissions in 2016 were 17.4 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent,” the draft plan states.
READ | San Antonio Climate Ready
Greg Harmon, a member on the steering committee that helped draft the initial plan and an organizer with the local Sierra Club, said San Antonio has needed a plan like this for many years.
“We know campaigning and we hope to see in this plan in the months ahead of a commitment — a firm commitment — for near-term reduction such as shutting down our second coal plant, Spruce,” he said, adding that the plant produces several million tons of greenhouse gasses.
The city is also getting some outside help. Businessman Michael Bloomberg announced San Antonio would be the latest among five cities to win the American Cities Climate Challenge.
It’s about $2.5 million of support that will come in the form of contract workers for the sustainability office. These are positions that will help the city in its sustainability plans.
While the initial plan has been released, there will now be a public comment period for the next 30 days. There’s also a public meeting at the main library Feb 19. There is also a comment area on the climate plans website.
Once the public comment period has ended, it will be up for approval from the San Antonio City Council. The council will likely take it up in April.
Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules