Jul 27, 2023 - Climate

Climate activists tell San Diego to speed up progress

Data: Brookings; Note: Includes all biking, walking, transit and vehicle miles; Map: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

San Diego is behind schedule to meet some big climate goals, and activists are trying to instill urgency as the city prepares its new transportation plan.

Driving the news: A report released Wednesday highlights San Diego's slow progress in changing how residents get around.

  • San Diego's 2022 Climate Action Plan said the city would reach net zero emissions by 2035 — and 46% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the county come from transportation, by far the largest contributor.

Why it matters: As part of achieving net zero, the city's plan envisions 36% of residents commuting by bike, transit or walking by 2030 — and 50% by 2035. But just 13% do so today, according to the Climate Action Campaign's new report.

By the numbers: As of 2021, 8% of San Diego commuters used transit, 3% walked and 2% biked. By 2035, city plans call for those numbers to tick up to 15%, 25% and 10% respectively.

Zoom in: A Brookings Institution study released last month on the country's 110 largest metros linked travel choices to how close households are to "activity centers," or neighborhoods with jobs, consumer and tourist destinations, or community institutions.

  • A typical San Diego household near multiple activity centers travels 15,251 fewer miles per year than those further out, researchers found.
  • Those miles amount to an extra $833 to $1,091 in annual travel expenses, and between 2,217 and 2,726 extra pounds of CO2 emissions per year.
  • San Diego households traveled the 23rd most miles of the metros studied.

Yes, but: San Diego is making some strides. The typical household traveled 34,467 miles in 2019, compared to 33,756 miles last year, Brookings found.


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