SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council on Thursday received a briefing regarding updates to SA Climate Ready's Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.
With a commitment to climate equity, the plan includes strategies for reducing San Antonio's greenhouse gas emissions and building the city's resilience.
The plan serves as a pathway to meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement that the City Council supported with a resolution in June 2017.
"Climate change is a reality, and we must act to improve prospects for public health, to make our community more resilient, to deal with all impacts of our changing environment," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. "The plan is a giant step forward for San Antonio, but frankly, it is the easy part. The plan is a framework that will guide our community in the coming years as we make the difficult policy decisions necessary to implement the plan."
In January 2019, the first draft of the CAAP was released for public review. Since then, the plan has been revised to reflect stakeholder input. Throughout the public engagement period, SA Climate Ready hosted 288 events with 9,677 total attendees, received 5,731 completed surveys and 4,569 written comments. More than 70% of survey responses were positive, while 14% were negative and 8% were neutral.
"Our residents expect responsible leadership from their elected officials. Inaction and hopeful thinking are not options," said District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval. "Climate change threatens to harm the people and places we love. This plan outlines practical options and common-sense steps we can take to protect our community."
But District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry isn't sold on the plan.
"The CAAP is being pushed as a 'framework' for climate action. While I agree that we all have a stake in protecting the environment, I cannot support a plan with no financial parameters. The city and our surrounding region have a strong track record of investing and responding to climate change to the tune of over $2 billion since 2000," he said. "In this version of CAAP, they've taken away all projected monetary values for implementing this plan. This framework will inevitably lead to more dollars spent. It's hard to believe that the CAAP assigns monetary values to 'the cost of doing nothing, yet the cost of action is unknown. City Council cannot expect our neighbors to write a blank check for the CAAP without knowing what it will take away from our pocketbooks."
While the goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050 and the majority of the content is preserved from the original draft, updates to the draft plan include:
- Specific costs removed due to uncertainty of future technologies and implementation options
- A clear process by which future costs will be identified prior to implementation
- Sections streamlined and rearranged for better context and readability
- New images and language to better reflect the San Antonio community
- Added "Constraints" and "In Current City Plan" to mitigation strategies
- Greenhouse gas reduction goals by sector now listed for 2030 and 2040
"While the plan is grounded in available climate science and best practices, it is not just about climate. Every strategy in the plan will improve the quality of life for San Antonio residents while supporting market transitions and consumer options," said Chief Sustainability Officer Douglas Melnick. "We don't want a plan that is sitting on a shelf. It needs to be a living document that continuously reflects new science and technology."
City Council is expected to consider the CAAP on Oct. 17.
SA Climate Ready plans to reassess and update the CAAP every three to five years from the adoption date and complete a full greenhouse gas inventory assessment every two years.