What to know about the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan before City Council votes

SAN ANTONIO – After thousands of comments and several events to get the community’s input, the San Antonio City Council will vote on the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan on Thursday.

The plan was first released in January but, since that time, there have been a few drafts and changes. Among them, the plan no longer lists having only carbon-free cars by 2050 and it doesn’t come with an estimated price tag for each strategy.

The nearly 100-page report details a handful of strategies to combat climate change in San Antonio. According to the plan, the goal is to make San Antonio carbon neutral by 2050, meaning that, in three decades, the city will contribute to no net carbon into the atmosphere.

“It doesn't mean that we don't produce carbon. It means that we have carbon. As we admit it, we're also finding ways to sequester it, and that can be through a whole variety of different ways,” said David Turner, associate professor of environmental science at St. Mary’s University.

One of the ways to do that is by working with CPS Energy on implementing its Flexible Path Plan, which includes expanding solar and wind resources and closing two older coal plants, which has already been done.

In the report, there are six mitigation strategies:

  • Increase carbon-free energy.
  • Reduce building energy consumption.
  • Reduce transportation energy consumption.
  • Advance the circular economy.
  • Promote biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.
  • Educate and empower.
  • Turner said he has been interested in the report since it first came out.

    “The education piece is important to us and it's something that we work on with our students, and our students are very interested in this,” Turner said.

    From energy use by buildings to transportation, there are many topics Turner is keeping an eye on.

    “We have all manner of buildings, residences, businesses, industrial buildings, all of these City Council buildings, city buildings. These all consume electricity to heat them, cool them, you know, keep the lights on, as it were,” Turner said.

    One solution the plan offers is developing a demolition and redevelopment policy to encourage the reuse of building materials. In August, Mayor Ron Nirenberg explained what transportation improvements would look like.

    “A multimodal system is more than just mass transit. It's a better bus network that operates more efficiently and more frequently. It's safer bicycle lanes where people can feel comfortable riding their bikes,” Nirenberg said.

    There is no estimated cost for this project, which critics have attacked.

    “What this plan does is lay out a process by which there will be public input. There will be cost benefit analysis. There will be economic impact statements along the way, so we can make sure that, when we make a decision, it’s in the right interest, it’s in the best interest, of the community,” Nirenberg said.

    “I think there are real benefits from this, and I think there's going to be very real costs associated with this, as well,” Turner said.

    Turner said what attracts him to the plan is that it can change.

    “As it's presented now, it's not a static document, that, now, this is going to be the road map for the next 30 years with no changes in store, and so is it ambitious,” Turner said.

    The plan will be reassessed and updated every three to five years from the adoption date. It may, however, be updated more frequently upon direction from the City Council.

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